View Full Version : Nails, screews, or glue

Todd Chapman
02-13-2004, 07:52 PM
What is the most widely accepted method to achieve the best quality drywall job. The drywall sub I use does a wonderful job but I was surprised to see him nailing up the board. His method is to glue all the studs, nail the perimiter, and a few nails in the field. On the ceiling he doesn't use glue, nails the perimtier, and screws the field. Personally I glue everything, use a few nails to hold the board up, then screw.

02-13-2004, 10:26 PM
I screw and glue it all, walls and ceilings, less screws on walls

02-14-2004, 02:34 AM
I use nails and glue on walls, glue and screws on ceilings.

The manufacturers of the stuff here recommend nailing/screwing the perimeter of wall sheets and letting the glue alone handle the rest of it.
Not quite good enough for me, despite what they say. As I make sure my walls are flat I figgure the "extra" fixing can only help.

02-14-2004, 03:44 AM
>>What is the most widely accepted method to achieve the best quality drywall job.

Far more important than nails vs screws vs glue is shimming, fixing bad framing, butmaster. Using all screws puts a larger burden on the rocker. If the angles are screwed, I make certain none of them are proud (or the blade on the angle tool is shot). Proud nails are a problem too, but at least you can quickly pound them in with the 6Ē youíve got in your back pocket.

One problem with nails on the perimeter - if the nail glances off the stud and doesn't drive adequately, it will eventually work out and look bad. Screws have a much lower tendency of backing out on a bad hit.

I'm with Adam - as I've stated before - all polymer/copolymer glues break down. Every time I do some work on a 150 year old house, I wonder how drywall glue will do in 150 years.

So the short answer is, you can get top results with nailing the perimeter. Jims approach (all screws) is probably the best, but I usually follow Adams formula (depending on how much Iím charging :)


Dap DryBoard Glue (http://www.dap.com/retail/retail_detail.cfm?catid=4&subcatid=10&prodhdrid=54)

02-15-2004, 05:18 AM
I wasnt aware that some glues could break down. In any case I figgure that they only get a bond on the paper. A nail or screw has a strong mechanical grab on the entire thickness. Has to be better.

If sheets are not already dead flat before installation, then a lack of fixing in the centre of the sheet will leave it curved or "bulging". Hardly conducive to a quality finish.
If the plaster guy wants to gripe about the number of nails etc I use, well, too bad. At least its solid.

I dont know about you guys, but our nails are "passivated". A large head,gold coloured finish and a ring shank for better hold. seems to work.

Bill P
02-15-2004, 11:18 AM

Please try this. Install two sheets of drywall, one with as many screws or nails as you like, another with panel adhesive and only enough screws to bed the panel in the adhesive. Wait a couple of days and tear off the two sheets. Let us know which sheet is more solid.

Another thing to consider, Iíve never seen glue push through the drywall after the framing shrinks.

02-15-2004, 07:03 PM
glues break down, but if it takes 300 years, not many people will care. I just wonder what the life is. I'm not saying don't use glue because they break down. I'm sure they are fine for 50 years, I just wonder what happens after 100 years.

And Adam, we've already had the paper/vs. glue holding power debate. It's a matter (area of paper) * (holding power of paper per area). This applies to glue and screws. (paper on the front of the board is stronger than on the back) When you multipe them, you get holding power. Because the glue has such a massive area advantage, it stomps the nail/screw on total holding power. I've tried to pull one off the wall before (try it your self as Bill says). It's easier to pull off a nailed or glued panel.
Even the pure mechanical bond on nail/screw is limited by the strength of the outside paper. Poped nails don't count.
Hang a sheet with 3 nails and pull it off. Hang 1/2 plywood with the same 3 fastners and try to pull it off.
Nailing requires more skill(than screws). Overdriven or even breaking the paper on one side of the nail head greatly weakens the holding power (because the paper is where it gets virtuall all it's strength.

Glue forms a chemical bond between the paper/glue boundry and the glue/stud boundry; but this is also a mechanical bond.

>> ring shanked nail
Good idea. I'm going to try that for my perimeters.

Another good test is given by Bedros in the post I list here. Search (start) where Bedros writes to Wes : "Lets do an experiment:"

Nails/Screws vs glue (http://www.jlconline.com/cgi-bin/jlconline.storefront/403014a4005ad50f271a401e1d2905d9/Catalog/1132?read=3657)

02-16-2004, 04:05 AM

I agree totally. Trying to rip off a glued sheet is a frustrating job. Nails only is a breeze.

Fortunately most of the stuff I have to remove is pre glue. The odd occaision where I have to tackle a glued one I end up chiseling lumps of glue and plaster off the wall. No way they come off otherwise.
I cant recall ever having a problem with nail popping. As I make sure the walls are flat, I assume that the sheet isnt under any undue stress in one area, and as the framing shrinks ( has to be a small amount cos its all kiln dried ) it will do so at the same rate. so, no popping.
My theory anyway.

The ring shanked nails do seem to hold better. The common ones prior to these were hot dipped zinc coated flat heads. The hot dipped holds better than "smooth" coatings, presumably cos its slightly rough.

As for glue, the recommended here is a water based tub of blue coloured stuff. Grab a blob with a stick and splat it on.
My favourite is Fuller MaxBond. Comes in tubes, costs more but is universal cos it doesnt hurt plastic/acrylic. Grabs like nothing else. Wood to wood..........there forever.

02-17-2004, 07:36 AM

Actually nails hold the sheetrock better than screws, but screws hold onto the wood better. The nail has a larger head and smaller shank, thus it holds the rock better. The screw has a smaller difference between the head and the shank..thus more area to hold the rock with the nail.

The problem comes into being on where the nail or screw is placed on the stud. If a nail is on the edge of a stud it will split wood and not hold while a screw may not split the wood. Thus if a nail is placed in the middle of a stud, it will hold well and as the stud shrinks (and they all do) it will hold the nail well ..the same is true for the screw. That's why on the perimeter of the board if the nail is placed in the middle which you can see on the tapered seam -no problem. Same is true on the upper and lower portions of the walls. On the upper portion, the tape should cover it and on the lower the wood base will hide it..that's why you never see those pop..same is true on the taped middle seam.

Best way is to glue the dickens out of it, nail the perimeter and use screws in the interior as much as you like..but the less screws the better.

Adam, I cannot believe you never had nail pops in the interior of a board as the main cause of pops and drywall failure is wood shrinkage and when the wood shinks it will pop a screw or a nail.

02-18-2004, 01:50 AM

I may have had nail pops, but nobody has ever complained or so much as mentioned it.
The most common finish method is paint, so pops would be very obvious.
The kiln dried timber we use it pretty stable. Some shrinkage occurs when it is exposed for an extended period during baking hot summer days. Otherwise..........nope.

02-18-2004, 03:06 AM
I'll have to disagree with Steve (holding power). As I've mentioned several times previously, unless youíre an exceptionally skilled nailer- a non-trivial percent of the nails will break the paper. Just the act of dimpling the core weakens the paper. Screw drive depth is critical to maximum holding power. You donít want to over-drive the screws.

I tend to nail the perimeters and screw off the fields. ( I wish I had time to use 100% screws). Glue is a no-brainer.

The place I used to always get pooped nails - inside stairwells. When you pound nails on the opposite side of the wall (stud), it pops the nail.

I'm doing a remodel right now, 70's house, and there are far more popped nails in the upper angle. The stair well and a few concave studs had pops, but the upper angle was the clear winner.

Adam is just an exceptional nailer, that's why he doesn't have popped nails. I can almost guarantee if he did, he'd hear about it. A rookie won't have such good results, they usually have trouble judging the center of the stud, bend nails, etc. Screws are easier for them. ( But they get dependent on missiles (from the movie "Top Gun") ). When I do a habitat house, I have them use a T square to pencil the stud center, measure the field location. Almost any volunteer can produce nice looking results with a screw gun (slower than hell tho).

02-18-2004, 05:02 AM

I dont think I am an exceptional nailer. Believe me I have my share of misses,bends etc.
However I pull out the ones that dont get a proper bite or bend.
I find nailing easier to do with consistency. For some reason screws like to go that wee bit too far and break the paper. Practice maybe........

After reading this thread, today it was running through my head as I screwed off some ceiling sheets. Instead of my usual amount I used way less.

You guys are getting to me.

02-18-2004, 04:35 PM
As an apprentice I was taught to *toenail* misses (faster than pulling the missed nail - axes have no good puller) ( Hay, we should have a religous debate on Round head (for wimps) vrs Square head axes (for real men :))

Maybe I'm completely wrong about nails vs screws then. I've never done an objective test. This would be difficut to do, but maybe steve is right. (did anyone read the building professor who tested toenailing trusses vs using metal hangers? He had to drill the toeNail path before driving the nail - but the hanger still proved to be far superior (for hurricane))


02-18-2004, 05:53 PM

Those of you who are quality oriented drywallers should read this link...and I'm going to give a quiz on Sunday..you fail..you will be called a typical drywaller as in "that's how we all do it now where's my check".


and keep on reading the link cause it gets to pops, cracks, bad seams..ya know..what they talk about when they say your work..well "stinks" ;-)

02-18-2004, 09:48 PM
Metal studs no glue all screws no shrinkage, no pops.

02-19-2004, 06:05 PM

Not true on the steel - depends a lot on the gauge. Metal expands and contracts with temperature variation..25 gauge should be outlawed as it's flimsy and the screws don't hold well.

02-20-2004, 04:08 AM
Great article steve. The UM Building Materials and Wood Tech center kicks ass and provides a much needed academic perspective to the dinosaur/apprenticeship mindset. (Never ask a question your boss can't answer. This is the way I did it, this is the way you'll do it.)

Now a quick lesson for steve. Put the URL (pronounced Earl by geeks) in the Optional Link URL box below the Message: box.

Diagonal cracks occasionally appear in drywall at the corners over windows and interior doors.
... fasten to studs only. I thought every DryWaller knew that? What the author is missing (because he's not a hanger or more likely a taper) is that for every diagonal crack, 1000 vertical cracks occur because the rocker (or builder insists) pieces out door. I always use one big butt or sheet and cut out the door (this really pissed off production builders who paid me by the foot). Piecing out a door almost guarantees a future vertical crack at the small butt above the door. Header nailing makes it worse.

Stairwells: Another reason: Studs are flimsy here, any banging on the other side of the wall will pop nails (as I've seen many times before taping starts, MC has not changed).

Buckling of plywood,
I agree with the author and have argued this with dozens of carpenters and GC's. What I don't understand is how they can usually get away with tight butts. Perhaps it's because they don't have the panels square so they don't have tight butts you see in Victorias Secrets catalogs.

I'm getting ready for the quiz.


Detailing for Wood Shrinkage (http://www.umass.edu/bmatwt/publications/articles/detailing_for_wood_shrinkage.html)

02-20-2004, 02:07 PM

Diagonal cracks.....or verticals up from a door header.
I agree that the door or window shouldn't be done in pieces, but....

I assume you guys as a standard practice use doors that then require architraves to cover the drywall and finish off the door.

We almost every time with a new door have "slimline jambs". A cheaper method where the drywall fits into a 1/2" groove running around the jamb. No need for architraves. Fitting the drywall in any way other than pieces is almost impossible without wrecking the sheet. I've tried it. Can pull it off on the odd rare occaision, but mostly not worth the trouble or the bad language.
I personally prefer the doors done the "proper" way and none of theis slimline crap, but, the customer dicatates the product. usually driven by price.

02-20-2004, 07:22 PM

Gonna have to give you an "A" and move you to the head of the class! Thanks for the link, ya know I never read everything..always think I know it all ;-)

Yes, many piece the rock above doors and on top and bottom of windows - sure to crack! What this article renders is an understanding of the relationship between wood and drywall, don't we always get blamed for drywall cracks, so printing this article out and giving it your customer does cover the drywaller's bases. Also for those drywallers interested in the long term quality of their jobs this article should be adhered to.

What I do in staircases is glue it well and then remove the screws..that eliminates all those pops.

Glad you enjoyed it..looks to me like your a guy whose #1 goal is long term quality!

02-21-2004, 03:42 PM
Back to the professors article:
The solution is to break panels between floors. For drywall this may mean using an expansion joint at the joist and a control joint at the ceiling, or applying the drywall to resilient channels. For plywood siding, it means providing a flashed gap of about 1/4 in. at panel ends.

Sounds good to me.

>>screws are shorter than nails, so there is less wood between the screw tip and framing face to shrink.

I'm moving from 1 1/2" to 1 1/4" screws.

>>And secondly, it takes higher pressure to force drywall along a threaded shank than it does to slide it along a smooth one.

BS, pure BS. The resistance screws provide is negligible.

Steve writes: >>Not true on the steel - depends a lot on the gauge. Metal expands and contracts with temperature variation..

gauge has nothing to do with the coefficient of linear expansion (CLX), it the same (assuming the same metal) regardless of gauge (on the length dimension obviously).

I'm betting the because the COX is so low compared with the changes in wood (width) due to changes in MC, it can be considered zero (at least up to 10 feet).

Also, on a conditioned environment (heat/AC), the range of temperature on the studs should be very low.

You're supposed to use glue with RC channel (for a sound barrier).

Adam: architraves ?
I had to look that up. Is that what the english call casement on trim?

Sound barrier

The hotlink below lists the CLX of drywall at 9^-6 (which sounds right to me). He then states this produces .54" expansion in drywall with a 50 degree change on 100' of board. He then states that steel is only 3/8" ( I find this hard to believe, rock expands > 25% more than steel). He doesn't state the type of steel.

Using his numbers, you get about 1/8" change in expansion in 100' and 50 degrees. A 10 foot ceiling yield 1/10 of 1/8th an inch (negligible).

I think we should have a quiz on this page. Vidiot will be on the quiz.


DryWall & Plaster terms (http://www.drywallconstruction.com/drywall_plaster_terms.htm)

02-21-2004, 05:32 PM

It's hard top have a control joint in a high foyer between floors, the aesthetics are definitelky a no go. Yes, RC-1 on the foyer walls is the ideal solution but you can glue the heck of it and leave a small space of 1/8" between the boards; I think this will eliminate board comprtession.

What you've never seen a screw pop on steel. true, what you say, it does not depend on the gauge as steel will expand uniformiy, but I still say that 25 gauge is not conducive to a quality drywall job especially joing two boards on one stud on 25 gauge.

You think I'm gonna participate on a quiz on the link you gave..when I have a week off I will study it ;-)

>>And secondly, it takes higher pressure to force drywall along a threaded shank than it does to slide it along a smooth one.

I dodn't get above at all..what is he talking about? Does he mean when the wood shrinks it pulls on the rock and it's more difficult to run the drywall on a screw than on a nail? If that what I think he eman..your right ..it's BS. The shanks of either have already bored a hole thru the rock sop the amount of force required is inconsiquential.



With these casings around the doors, if you have a butt joint at each corner of the door how do you fit the drywall into that 1/2" groove?

I also like Rick leave a full sheet around any opening such as a door or window to eliminate cracks and also for that casing to be straight..the curve of the casing around the door /window always bothered me!

02-22-2004, 03:22 AM

Casement on trim........its a struggle but I think we are talking about the same thing. ( I am in New Zealand, most definitly NOT English )

To make sure......Architraves are the added on timbers that essentially ceate a "picture frame" look around the door or window. 45 deg. mitres at the corners, etc etc, right?

All new doors "off the shelf" have a jamb that sits proud of the wall each side by approx 3/4 of an inch. a groove approx 1/2" by 1/2" is located in the side of the jamb, starting at "flush with framing". ( hard to explain, simple if you can see one ) The edge of the drywall fits into this groove/slot. No need for architrave/trim as the raw edge of the drywall is hidden. Cheaper cos the labour and materials of the architraves/trim is no longer req.

BUT, is way uglier. Cant have it all. I prefer the old and to my mind proper way. It means sliding a full sheet of drywall into the top and side groove at the same time is awful difficult. So we do it in pieces.

02-23-2004, 05:24 PM

Now I get it - it's like a one piece steel door frame where the sheetrock slides behind the frame. Of course, then it's impossible to have a single board around it.

02-23-2004, 11:40 PM

Thats the one. It isnt always impossible to fit a 1/2 sheet for example, but most of the time very hard. Not worth the trouble.

02-24-2004, 05:40 PM

Your right, it is possible to fit a sheet over over that type of door, buy you need clearance on the ceiling to slide the board down - my error! But it is a cumberdome job.