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Drywall screws have a countersunk head with a flat top, external spaced threads and a sharp or drill point. Designed to attach drywall (also known as gypsum board, plasterboard, Sheetrock® and wallboard) to cold-formed steel and wood framing, they pierce or drill through the material without a pilot hole then form or cut mating threads as they are installed. Compared to nails, fewer screws are usually required; electric screw guns reduce installation time; incorrect nail dimpling (the indentation created by the hammer) doesn't occur; and pullout resistance is said to be 350% greater than GWB-54 nails which prevents dreaded "nail pops" (nail heads that later "pop" above the surface of the drywall creating an unsightly bump as friction between the nail and wood decreases due to wood shrinkage). Drywall screws are also known as:
gypsum board screws.
There are three different types, which are optimized for different applications: S, W and G. Type S has fine threads and a sharp point and is intended to fasten drywall to steel studs less than 0.033" thick. Drill point screws are self drilling and used with thick gauge metal from 0.033 to 0.112". Type W has coarse threads and is used to attach drywall to wood studs. The alternating high and low threads of high-low thread drywall screws have better holding power than coarse thread in wood and can also be used with steel studs. Coarse pitch, high thread Type G screws are designed to attach drywall to drywall.
Sizes (diameters) are listed as whole numbers and there are four that are common: #6, 7, 8 and 10. Lengths range from about 3/4" to 6" but only small sizes are available in short lengths and large sizes in long lengths. Short lengths are fully threaded and long lengths are partially threaded. Length is measured from the top of the head to the tip of the screw for both sharp and drill points.
Phillips is the standard drive style. Also, bugle head is standard for drywall screws, so named because it resembles the bell end of a bugle (the end opposite the mouthpiece), which curves outward from the screw's shank to the largest diameter point of the head. It differs from flat heads found on other screws where the shank to head transition is cone shaped. As it is described "The bugle head spins the face paper into the cavity under the screw head for greater holding power and helps prevent damage to the gypsum core and face paper."
Low carbon steel is the standard material and is case hardened for Type S and W screws; Type G is not required to be case hardened. Gray or black phosphate, sometimes coated with a dry-to-touch oil type compound, is the typical finish and provides minimal corrosion protection but is usually adequate to prevent the formation of rust caused by joint compound and water-based paint before they dry.
Although drywall installation guides and other resources often refer to drywall screws as Type S and Type W, you will usually find them identified instead by their thread type, such as coarse or fine. To make sure you use the correct screw for the job, refer to Table 1 below…
Drywall Screw Types
|S||Phillips||Bugle||Fine||Drywall to Steel|
|W||Phillips||Bugle||Coarse||Drywall to Wood|
|G||Phillips||Bugle||Coarse, High||Drywall to Drywall|
Bugle head drywall screws are installed using a screw gun and a #2 Phillips drywall screw setter. The top of the head should be slightly below the surface of the drywall. Setting the screw too deep may break the face paper or possibly fracture the gypsum core, which will compromise holding power. Be cautious when using a drill motor because it's easy to overdrive drywall screws.
Related screws and different uses include…
- Trim head drywall screws are used to attach wood trim to drywall and studs. The diameter of their flat head is about 1/3 smaller than a bugle head and has a conical bearing surface. They have a sharp or drill point and are available in Phillips and square drive (use a #1 Phillips or #1 square drive bit).
- Coarse thread, Type W, and high-low thread drywall screws are popular for other applications like wood to wood, especially soft wood (since the shank adjacent to the head is a smaller diameter than a like-sized wood screw, the drywall screw head can twist off when used with hard woods).
- Type A is a tapping screw with coarse threads that is used to secure metal plaster bases to steel studs and wood (#2 Phillips drive is typical).
Refer to American Society for Testing and Materials ASTM C1002, Steel Self-Piercing Tapping Screws for the Application of Gypsum Panel Products or Metal Plaster Bases to Wood Studs or Steel Studs, for specifications relating to Types S, W, G and A drywall screws. Also see ASTM C954, Steel Drill Screws for the Application of Gypsum Panel Products or Metal Plaster Bases to Steel Studs from 0.033 in. (0.84 mm) to 0.112 in. (2.84 mm) in Thickness, for self drilling drywall screw details.
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