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I'm not gonna lie. The early stages of my very first home improvement project completely smacks of novice DIY'er. I did so many things wrong that I've since learned from, but the first mistakes are still glaringly obvious, one of which being how I drove screws too far into drywall. Some do more than break the paper and actually sink into the sheet by as much as 1/8".

I've read that this can keep the wall from being stable. Will I need to pull all these sunken screws out and drive new ones in over an inch or so? The fact that I have a double layer of type x drywall hanging -- suspended, actually -- like this makes me wonder if I need to tear it all down and do it right this time.

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Making mistakes is how you learn: the key is learning from them and not making the same mistakes again. And for the sake of those living underneath your drywall, fixing them. –  gregmac Nov 1 '12 at 21:21
    
@oscillatingcretin Moderators can merge questions, so Greebo's answer from the other one will show up here. Just flag your question and ask them to do it. –  Niall C. Nov 14 '12 at 22:08
    
Well, crap, I didn't know that. –  oscilatingcretin Nov 14 '12 at 22:20
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

The paper is a key part of the drywall structure. Just as when you cut the paper on the drywall it's easy to snap, when you screw past the paper it's easy to blow out the back. Plaster and paper are a lot like concrete and rebar, the plaster based core of drywall resists compression, while the paper resists tension.

It's not essential to pull the old screws, the damage has already been done and will be mudded over. But you should add a second screw a few inches away anywhere you went too deep. This is a critical repair for drywall on the ceiling, and a very good idea for drywall mounted on the wall. I wouldn't go through any added effort to tear down the drywall, since it's still perfectly good. Just add the extra screws and be happy you caught the problem before experiencing a collapse.


Update: From your new photos, those screws are too deep. Once the paper has been torn, you lose strength at that screw location. You should never be able to see plaster around the screw head, but you also should never be able to run a flat edge over the drywall and feel the screw head above the drywall. It's a fine line to walk, but a professional drywaller should be able to walk it with ease (we train amateurs to do this in under a hour).

Also, from those photos, it doesn't appear that the installers are using a drywall bit (we refer to them as mushroom bits because of their shape). They leave a distinct ring around each screw, making it easy to countersink the proper depth, and preventing you from going deeper (the bit will cam out when it hits the paper).

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Thanks for the answer. What do you mean by "blow out the back"? –  oscilatingcretin Oct 31 '12 at 18:05
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Ever seen when a molly/drywall anchor pulls out? You're usually left with a giant crater. The same thing happens when you puncture the paper, but in reverse. To keep from puncturing the paper, I usually use these: amazon.com/Improvement-Phillips-Drywall-Screw-Setter/dp/… –  Karl Katzke Oct 31 '12 at 18:08
    
Karl - I eventually picked some of those up. However, I found it difficult to dimple the screw into the drywall with these bits and have had to give a few of them a good half or full turn with a phillips. Either I wasn't pushing hard enough or they're just cheap bits. –  oscilatingcretin Nov 1 '12 at 16:47
    
@oscilatingcretin you do have to push those bits in hard, and you have to be perfectly square to the screw head and the drywall surface. If there's any angle between either, it won't work. They also wear down faster than other bits, and when worn, they cam out even sooner. –  BMitch Nov 14 '12 at 22:25
    
Yep, those screw heads are too deep –  The Evil Greebo Nov 15 '12 at 1:31
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If you drive the screw so far that it cracks the drywall then you've weakened the hold. You can put another one in nearby if you're worried but an occasional one like this shouldn't cause any issues.

It's more work after if you're using "mud" (like most non-professionals) because it shrinks as it dries and thus needs more applications to get a final smooth finish.

Drywall is fairly heavy and if you're driving regular screws through a previous layer before they bite into the wood behind then it's possible the screws are not sunk deep enough to properly hold the weight.

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