When fastening drywall to studs, you have a choice of using either drywall screws or drywall nails. Which should you use to make it faster, easier, and cheaper to install the drywall. Importantly, which one will keep the drywall most secure for the longest time?
Use drywall screws rather than drywall nails.
Screws are more secure because they cannot pull straight out. When enough lateral pressure is applied to drywall nails, they will pull out. In fact, older homes often have circular bumps in the drywall, caused by nail pops.
If you had asked me this question at any time in the last 20 years, the “drywall screws” answer would have been unequivocal and unqualified. In fact, the conventional wisdom today is that a person is expected to use drywall screws, and that nails are considered archaic.
Recently, though, I used drywall nails to tack up small pieces of board to cover door headers, and it was a joy. I realized that there is a limited place for drywall nails in your easy renovation repertoire.
Small Pieces: It feels almost overkill to screw small sections of drywall in place. Large sections (4 ft. by 8 ft. sheets) really do benefit from an all-screw or partial screw installation.
Tiny Pieces: Sections of drywall that are downright tiny really do benefit from drywall nails over screws. Screws can mangle up tiny pieces.
Extreme Edges: In those instances where you have to drive a fastener closer to the edge than you would like (say, within 1/4 inch), drywall nails will drive cleaner into the board than screws. Screws are larger, and because of the rotation effect, they will rip away gypsum on the open edges.
Field vs. Perimeter: Professional drywall installers often like to use nails for perimeters. It’s physically easier to get a board initially tacked up with a hammer and nail than by wrestling with a drill and screw.
Metal Corners: Metal corner beam is nailed into drywall, not screwed.