Nails or Screws for Hanging Drywall: Which Works Better?

By HomeAdvisor

Updated December 28, 2022

woman drilling screws into drywall
Photo: triocean / Adobe Stock

When hanging drywall throughout the home and keeping it in place, nails and screws are the most common options. One significant difference between the two is cost, as drywall nails are more budget-friendly than drywall screws. Beyond that, each fastener has its own advantages, disadvantages, and preferred use case scenarios. Here are more contrasts between these two popular drywall installation techniques.

On This Page:

  1. What Are Drywall Nails?
  2. What Are Drywall Screws?
  3. Appearance
  4. Cost
  5. Durability
  6. Installation
  7. Removal Difficulty
  8. Are Drywall Nails or Screws Better for Your Home?
  9. Nails and Screws vs. Drywall Glue

What Are Drywall Nails?

Drywall nails are nails specifically used to hang up drywall, though the design isn’t that different from nails used in other renovation projects. Drywall nails are available in multiple gauges to indicate the diameter of the shank and vary in length from around 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches. These nails boast ringed shanks to help hold them in place after being driven through the drywall and into a stud. This fastener also typically includes a cupped and concave head to help hide the nail to create a smooth surface after you complete the drywall finishing process.

What Are Drywall Screws?

Drywall screws, also known as sheetrock screws, are specialized fasteners with a bugle-shaped head to create a stable grip when attached to a stud, though you find standard trim head screws on occasion. These screws are available with a coarse thread, fine thread, or a high-low pattern thread, just like regular screws. Drywall screws are thin, so they won’t split the wood stud when attached. Though drywall nails were the de facto standard for decades, drywall screws have steadily increased in popularity in recent years due to the many reasons we’ll cover below.


The actual appearance of the screws and nails doesn’t matter here, but the look of the finished drywall does matter, and each fastener impacts the aesthetics in different ways. Drywall nails with a concave head disappear easily into the drywall once finished, though nails encounter more pop-outs when compared to screws. Both have benefits and risks when it comes to the aesthetics of your finished drywall project.

Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Take well to finishing materials Require more care to cover up
Move and pop out in various scenarios Sturdy and rarely pop out for a clean look

Drywall Nails

Drywall nails typically feature a concave head designed to disappear into drywall, especially after the finishing process. Nails are also smaller, further aiding in their retreat from view. However, drywall nails pop out in certain circumstances, especially when exposed to heat or humidity.

Drywall Screws

Drywall screws are larger and slightly harder to cover up, as these screws aren’t always concave. But with a little care during the installation, the finished look will be seamless. Just go slowly and don’t overtighten or undertighten. This allows any finishing products applied later to cover the screws fully. As a bonus, drywall screws rarely pop out.

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If you’re looking to cut costs, go for drywall nails, as they’re extremely budget-friendly, saving around $2 per pound compared to screws. However, though it’s more economical to purchase nails, they require some specialized tools. Here’s how these cost factors break down for homeowners.

Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Lower purchase cost Higher purchase cost
Require specialized tools like nail guns Require common household tools

Drywall Nails

When sussing out the cost to hang drywall, you’ll save a few bucks by going with nails. However, no matter which fastener you choose, the overall purchase price pales in comparison to the drywall itself and the finishing materials. The cost adds up if you’re hanging drywall in an enormous property, but otherwise, the cost difference is minor. If you’re completing a large renovation project, a dedicated nail gun comes in handy, and this tool costs around $100 to $300.

Drywall Screws

person screwing in screw into wall
Photo: zlikovec / Adobe Stock

Drywall screws boast a slightly more expensive upfront cost when compared to nails, but these are fastened with a simple screwdriver or power drill. Purchasing a new power drill costs about $50 to $200, though most homeowners already have one. In other words, screws come out on top when it comes to saving money on additional tools.


Both nails and screws last a long time, but nails are susceptible to moisture-related issues, leading to movement and pop-outs. Screws boast greater grip strength for added stability, though they’re easier to break than nails during the installation process.

Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Rarely break during installation Break during installation in some cases
Move and pop out over time Increased grip strength and rarely pop out

Drywall Nails

Nails are relatively strong when installed, but they can break during the installation process if you aren’t careful. Also, drywall nails are thinner than screws and, as such, are prone to pop-outs when exposed to extreme temperatures, humid conditions, or simple structural movement. Once enough nails pop out, learning how to patch drywall is on the horizon. Finally, drywall requires more nails than screws to assist with overall stability in the long term.

Drywall Screws

Screws break when twisted too hard or pulled from the side hard enough, so practice caution during installation. Drywall screws boast an increased grip strength compared to nails with rarer pop-outs, even when exposed to moisture and heat.


man fixing ceiling drywall
Photo: bilanol / Adobe Stock

If you require speed and a nail gun, drywall nails are the best bet for an easy and quick installation. Even manual hammers are fast here. Screws can break if you aren’t careful and are difficult to remove. In other words, screws necessitate a slower and more thoughtful installation process.

Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Quick installation process  Require more caution during the installation
Hammers run a risk of breaking drywall paper No chance to break drywall paper

Drywall Nails

Nails provide for an extremely speedy installation process, whether you go it alone or hire a local drywall contractor. It doesn’t take long to hammer in nails by hand, and it’s even faster to use a nail gun. Unfortunately, hammering in nails runs a risk of breaking the exterior drywall paper if you apply too much force. Nail guns reduce this risk.

Drywall Screws

Screws require a slightly more delicate touch to avoid mistakes, and turning a screwdriver or even using a power drill takes longer than a hammer or nail gun. However, you don’t need as many screws as nails to hang drywall, so consider that before making a final decision.

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Removal Difficulty

If you find yourself removing drywall, separating the nails or screws from the studs is particularly important. Both these options have their issues, though removing screws is slightly quicker due to the reverse function on drills and the fact that drywall requires fewer screws than nails to hang.

Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Time-consuming to remove with back of hammer Quicker to remove with reverse function on drill
Large amount of nails to remove Fewer screws to remove

Drywall Nails

The most common way to remove nails is to use the back end of a hammer, so you have to go slowly, one by one. Additionally, you’re more likely to damage the drywall when removing nails, though this is likely not a huge concern if you’re renovating the space. Nails are weaker than screws, so your studs are likely to be littered with them, and each one requires removal.

Drywall Screws

Before power drills, removing nails was the quicker and easier option. However, modern power tools give screws the edge. Another reason screws are easier to remove than nails is their sheer numbers. Drywall requires fewer screws than nails to hang successfully so you have fewer screws to remove later on.

Are Drywall Nails or Screws Better for Your Home?

Screws are likely the better option for most homeowners conducting DIY drywall installation. Drywall screws provide a sturdier grip than nails, are less likely to pop out over time, and are easier to remove. Nails cost less, but the difference is minor. However, nails are quicker to fasten, which is an important consideration. Though screws slightly edge out nails in most cases, two scenarios absolutely call for screws over nails.

Factors Drywall Nails Drywall Screws
Appearance Easier to hide but can pop out Slightly tougher to hide but rarely pop out
Cost $3 per pound $5 per pound
Durability Weak grip so more are needed Provide a better grip
Installation Quick installation Slower installation
Removal Difficulty Slow removal Quicker removal


When affixing drywall to a ceiling as part of a home renovation project, use screws. They provide a firmer grip than nails, so going with screws minimizes the chance of pop-outs from above. The somewhat reduced gripping power of nails mixed with gravity is a recipe for annoyance down the road. The average cost to install a ceiling is between $940 and $2,660.

Walls With Metal Studs

Nails are great for wooden studs but are useless for metal studs and metal frames. If your home has metal reinforcements, attach drywall with specialized drywall screws designed for this type of stud or frame. The average cost to frame a wall is between $970 and $2,970.

Nails and Screws vs. Drywall Glue

Nails and screws are the gold standards for attaching drywall to studs, but there’s another option. Drywall adhesive is budget-friendly and easy to apply. Just add glue to the studs and joists directly before placing a sheet of drywall. However, this option isn’t as secure as nails or screws and is best used in conjunction with one or the other to reduce pop-outs issues down the line.

Still Have Questions About Drywall?


  1. Ray, June 27:

    I like installing with screws but when doing drywall removal nails make the removal easier and removing the nails is easier also. IMO. Going with nails.

  2. Danee Cunningham, April 16:

    I much prefer nails. Much easier to put in and out

  3. frank williams, July 7:

    I ‘ve never seen 3/4 inch drywall (5/8″yes) and don’t recall any !-3/8″ d.w. screws, but wish they were available.

  4. Raymond Kristjan Poteet, November 14:

    I have been building, remodeling homes for over 40 years. Never use ring-shank nails for drywall. Obviously, they are NOT. One, they are not plated against corrosion. That will cause corrosion and later staining through of any painted surface work. Two, the heads are not cupped to accept drywall compound and prevent paper tearing of the drywall as they are being driven in. Three, the day anyone has to work on that wall, they will hunt you down.

  5. Keith, October 8:

    Another option, after considering the length of the screw and nail, is install a few nails where the tape will go to quickly get the sheet to hang, then run the screws in the field (middle of the sheet) and other areas for the better holding power.

  6. Tim Corcoran, November 3:

    Nails are for contractors because the job takes less time. Screws are for home owners because you won’t have any nail pops. Nail pops are not due to gravity, as the wood dries out it sometimes pushes the nail out. There are nail pops so bad on roofs that they sometimes push through the shingle and cause your roof to leak. Now tell me that a nail pop is due to gravity.

  7. Vox Pbx, April 23:

    Careful driving of drywall screws at the edges has less chance of bursting out the drywall than hammering away on it to install ring shanked nails. I can say this with over 40 years of drywall installation experience where at one time nails were really the only choice. Do get the proper installation tool for the screws if you are continuing to have screw breakout near the edges. It can help a whole lot. Michael Karas Oct 19 ’12 at 10:50

  8. Joe Goodell, April 25:

    I used to own a drywall contracting company that worked primarily in new custom homes.

    We used screws for everything.

    For interior walls: non insulated — caulked construction glue on the studs, place sheet, screw sheet around edges on studs, then 1 or 2 in the field of the sheet to hold it to the studs.

    Ceilings — obviously screws.

    Insulted Walls – Place sheet and screw 4 screws vertically on each stud across sheet

    Again within reason (depending on sheet size, stud material, etc)

    As article mentions Drywall gun is the difference

    Either way though, if you are going to use nails you want a Drywall Hammer… so might as well go the extra mile and get a driver.

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