View Full Version : Rusty Drywall Nails

05-17-2004, 11:03 PM
We are having a new house built. The other day I noticed the crew had fastened the drywall to the studs using quite a few rusty drywall screws. The builder says that you wont see it once they put the mud on. Honestly, I think he's feeding me a line. Should I be concerned about the rust?

James Bippes
05-18-2004, 04:20 PM
My experience has been that rust bleeds through. However, go with what your builder says; he's the one responsible for making things look nice. You shouldn't worry about process as long as in the end you have a good-looking, well-built home. The rusty screws are his problem, not yours. If you didn't trust him (and your contract) why are you having him build you a house?

05-18-2004, 04:25 PM
Don't pay him 100%, withhold about $20,000 for removal of the drywall and then installing the new drywall in about 5 months. Rusty nails will bleed thru - your gonna have a major problem. Or tell him to rip it off all now and start again with screws and glue..why are they using nails..nails are passe and will pop in a few months.

05-18-2004, 08:52 PM
Sorry, I said screws in the original posting. They are indeed nails. They've only done two rooms so far, one bedroom and half of the dining room. Luckily the builder stopped them because of a shower framing problem that had to be resolved first. I'm assuming they don't use screws because it would be expensive for them to provide drills for about 8 workers who don't speak English, much cheaper to just give them hammers.
I really do appreciate your advice on how to proceed.
What would be a more realistic thing for them to do now? Spray Kilz or something over the rusty ones or remove them and patch the holes?


05-18-2004, 09:25 PM
I don't think Kilz or a selaer will stop the rusting of the screws. It may stop the bleed thru, but the nails will rust and fail in time and then what will be holding the sheetrock?

To remove the rusty nails will damage the rock..do that anyways and then make sure they patch the damage well.

05-19-2004, 10:01 PM

I am with the rest of the post's. If the nails are truly rusting they should be removed. You occasionally see a rust spot from a nail and most of the time if there is a bleeding problem it can be fixed with a stain blocker. This dose not mean every nail.

Why are the nails rusty? or are they just dirty? A dry wall nail should be clean when it hits the job. Is there somthing else going on at the job site? Second why nails? I havent nailed a job in 15 years. Screws are a much beter choice for overal performance. Are the people rocking pro's? It sounds like they are picking up this job as extra work. I would be concerned about how they are hanging the rock. There is a lot more to hanging then nailing up a piece of rock over the studs. If it were my house and the general dose not repair the damage I would want a signed warrenty covering the drywall and paint for 2 to 5 yr. In adition to his normal building waranty.


05-20-2004, 09:41 AM
Is it really that bad to use nails?

While I use screws only on patches and small boards, I still hang full boards with nails and then finish by screwing off. Sometimes it takes a nail to hold the board down to the studs. I think it might be the larger head on the nail. Also, the axe part of the hammer comes in handy as a lever and I can set a nail in the top of the second sheet without a ladder or bench. Faster for me.

Occasionally my screw driver(Makita 4000 rpm) can't drive screws in old wood, so it is back to nail. Of course I only use ring shank nails, not the blue cup head nails.

Ceilings are another story. I hardly ever use a nail there.


05-20-2004, 09:49 AM
Your project sounds like trouble. Did you go for the low bidder without checking out the contractor? I think I would get this handeled now before the job gets out of hand and you realy have a mess. How was the rest of the job? Is the outher work up to code? Sometimes the low bid is not the best and in the long run is not the cheapest. Is thire insurance and is the contractor bonded? Best of luck to you and I hope every thing works out for you.

05-22-2004, 11:48 AM
I have reading this site for a few months now and I find a lot of very smart contractors that I have learned a lot from but I have a real problem with telling a home owner to withhold that much money from a builder. Especially when i don't think he will have any problems. This site is suposed to be for profesionals only, not for home owners to get ammunition to screw a builder, how would you like to have 20k withheld for months on end only to realize no problems. This is my first time ever to comment on something like this, I hope no one is affended. JT

05-23-2004, 10:44 AM

No nails are not that bad. The problem is to find some one that knows how to nail drywall. You need a good drywall hammer as you mentioned. Every nail head that cuts the paper needs to be replaced. And all need to be dimppled with out crushing the rock. That means one tap to start the nail and one swing to set it. Those helpers that hit the nail 3 or more times have a nail that will eventuialy pop the joint compound.

05-23-2004, 09:18 PM
Rusty drywall screws are no problem. I've been using them for 15 years. Just leave some drywall screws out in the water, they will develop a bit of rust. Carpenters use drywall screws for everything. I fixed a make-shift fence 15 years ago with drywall screws. Altho the heads are a bit rusty, when you back them out they just have a minor film of rust and actually hold *better*. The problem with iron oxide (rust) is that it's flakey, i.e. flakes off. When screws are embedded in solid material, it can't flake off.

I wouldn't spec drywall screws for outdoor, sauna, etc - I've just been surprised how well they hold up in moist environments.

BTW, I'm in seattle - we get alot of moisture days.

We've had the nails vs. screw debate many times. If I had more time I'd do all screws but I usually end up using nails on the perimeter and screws in the field.

>>screw driver(Makita 4000 rpm) can't drive screws in old wood

get a 5 Amp, 2500 RPM gun or use a cordless. I would never use nails in hard wood (too many nails bent over and heads break off when you try to pull them out).

I'll put a NAIL vs. SCREW thread in the FAQ when I get caught up.

DryWallProfessionals (http://groups.msn.com/DryWallProfessionals)

05-24-2004, 01:29 PM
Hello all,
Thanks for everyone's comments. I'd like to answer some of your questions if I could.
The nails had a coating of rust, not like they were old nails or anything. I'd say if you took fine steel wool and rubbed them, you could get all of the rust off. Tape and bedding started on Friday, (before I could tell if a sealer was used)and so far none of the rust is bleeding through after the first coating, so I guess that's a good sign. This house is being built in Texas as part of a subdivision by a developer, so the amount of control I have over who they hire is limited. The quality of work I expect however, is not. I'd say that 95% of the work done on the house so far has been by an illegal workforce, and other than the nails, so far they have done a good job. I wouldn't call them pro's, but they do know what they're doing, at least some of them do. One of the rockers pointed out to the builder that there needed to be more bracing on one part of the garage (ceiling joist) to properly support the sheetrock. When the rockers came back the next day, the bracing didn't get done, so he cut the rock a different way to compensate.
My intent here was never to get information to slam the builder or subs. I only wanted expert opinions from the pro's on whether the rust will bleed through. So far we haven't had to resort to threatening to withold any money or anything close to that. We do however, remind the builder that we are the first house being built in this neighborhood, and that we don't have any problem with telling other potential buyers our opinion of their work. Now all of a sudden we have bullnose corners throughout the house!
Now if I could just get them to fix the sag in the roof before the insulation gets blown in.
Thanks again,

05-25-2004, 12:38 AM
It takes a while for the rust to bleed through. Just have them use a Shellac based stain blocking primer and you will have no problem. Original Kiltz is one such primer.


05-26-2004, 08:45 PM
Hey JT,

I started out in drywall in 1985 and in about 1987 was doing 800 board houses foir a custim builder. On the way to this job, a new development was goinmg up so I asked the super to bid it, he said he had a drywaller. About two months after he called me and hired me. After us doing one house, about 15 were moved in already, he asked me to go see a woman who had some drywall problems on her new house. As I introduced myself, she began crying and I do remember her saying "Please fix my house, it's horribe!". Now I was thinkling perhaps she was exaggerating and she let me in. Well, low and behold, the drywall was coming off the ceilings..I mean coming off the ceilings. One board was hanging down from the butt joint about 8 inches. To get to the point we had to remove all of the ceilings and some of the walls. You think that 20 grand covered it..try to do practically a new drywall job with carpets, furniture and all appliances in. Guess what, there were 3 more houses like that.

You got some nerve coming on here for the first time and saying that my comment was to screw the GC...you seem to me like an amatuer contractor..ya know.."just do it any which way and where's my check".

Bottom line is if you don't want to or can't do the right job..don't do it. It's the GC's who try to lowball the subs for added profit as in using nails instead of screws and glue, poor quality work, speed is the name of the game..it's dirtbag GC's and builders who are the culprits not always the subs. Sure some subs also do inferior work, but it's up to the GC or builder to insure a quality job.

BTW, that builder with the bad drywall is on the New Stock Exchange and is one of the largest builders in the USA.

If this was my house, the GC wouldn't get a plug nickel until all the drywall was removed and installed properly!

Thomas Wilde
06-06-2004, 11:40 PM
Found it interesting that the original message was titled drywall nails but the text stated they were drywall screws. Am I the only one who noticed that? Best to check which it is before spending so much time discussing the pros and cons of nails.

I much prefer cupped-head, galvanized ringshank nails. I have seen screws that rust, and HomeBase used to sell nails that rusted virtually every time. I finally made a note to never buy nails there. My nails have never popped nor ever rusted. Every so often they do have to get broken off when they hit a knot. No pulling those suckers out.

In finishing I found that two coats of Miller Paint PVA primer and then at least two top coats of their Rubber Lustre paint covered the rust, and only twice did I ever see it come through. That Rubber Lustre is great paint, especially in semi-gloss. I just hate the ammonia as the volatile agent. Kind of makes me feel sick after a while.

Has anyone used one of the air nailers for sheetrock? I have the Max nailer and the only place I've found the nails for it is on the east coast. Just starting a 5500 sq ft house with 5/8 sheetrock on all walls and ceilings and will be using the nailer with the galvanized ringshank nails. No glue because the entire interior of the exterior walls and ceilings have a 6-mil vapor barrier installed. Should be fun with the highest ceiling being 19' up.

06-25-2004, 04:05 PM
If I thought bleed thru was a problem I'd use shellac as Kirk states. "kIL Z ORIGINAL" is oil based, not shellac. It's my favorite oil primer - and it would probably work altho BIN white pigmented shellac is much better at sealing stains.

I've been using rusty screws for 30 years and never had a problem. It's just iron oxide. If you embed it properly the mud encapsulates it. I get my screws from various drywall supply stores - they have no *anti rust* coating. Even new screws will rust from the moisture of the mud (altho they don't have time to rust much - and the oil on them (from the manufacturing process ) helps prevent rust.
Almost all metals oxidize (gold and platinum are exceptions). Aluminum oxide is tougher than pure AL so it doesn't need embedding/encapsulation.

We've had the nail vs. screw debate many times - consensus being screws + glue is best but nails can work.

PVA is latex - so latex paint/PVA will not seal any migrating material

On new drywall - one good PVA blown and backrolled and one paint coating is all you need (with good material).


07-05-2004, 02:49 PM
Rick is right!

I have shellac based sprays from Zinnser Bin and thought Kiltz was the same thing, but nooooo, I checked. You can get plain shellac in a can or a Bin primer with shellac, which is what I usually use. I thought the product wa Kilz, but it is not.

Normally I use Bin 123 and then if it still bleeds through that give it a shot of shellac.

By the way, regarding rust. It takes three things to make rust happen or continue to happen. That is iron, water and oxygen. So if you paint over a screw and seal it, no oxygen/water will get to it and it will not rust further. If you scratch the paint film, then the rust could start again, but there is little chance of that happening in a house. If you get migratory water it can carry oxygen with it and you will have rust again. This tends to happen on outside corners with metal corner bead by bathtubs.