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As is evident in my previous posts, I'm in the process of framing an interior wall for drywall patch repair. I'd like to know what types of screws to use for connecting new 2x4's. When I visited our hardware store, I was surprised at how many different types there are (exterior, deck, drywall, etc). I also wasn't sure what kind of thread size the screws should be.

Any thoughts?

-M

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just a curiosity question ... why not use nails instead? framing nails, 16p? I'll be doing some framing soon and I'm curious as to why you'd use screws instead of nails. –  Scott Vercuski Oct 27 '10 at 11:40
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@scott I prefer screws as in my case, I'm patching in a relatively confined space that won't allow me to easily swing a hammer... I'm also paranoid of damaging the nearby drywall too. –  Mike B Oct 27 '10 at 15:00
    
gotcha ! didn't consider that. –  Scott Vercuski Oct 27 '10 at 15:13
    
related to previous question: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/2444/… –  auujay Oct 27 '10 at 17:14
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2 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

It sounds like you need a screw primer.

Strength is of very little importance here. There will be no serious loads on these screws. So anything that goes through the 2x4 into the existing framing. Since 2x4 stock is only 1.5 inches thick, you need a screw at least 1/2 inch longer than that. A really long screw is a detriment here, since it takes longer to drive, more friction, etc. So is a thick screw. I'd buy 2 or 2.5 inch screws for this. Since you will be drilling at an angle through the wood, 2.5 is probably better. Again, you don't need the holding power of a 3 inch long screw here.

Wire size is important. This defines the thickness of the screw. You will see numbers like #6, #8, and #10. Bigger numbers mean a thicker, stronger screw, that will displace more wood fibers. So thick screws take more effort to drive, but they are stronger. Requiring more effort to drive means it wears out your arm and the battery in your driver more quickly. Typically, you will be able to buy screws in a length of at least 2 inches as #8 screws. Even a #6 screw would be entirely adequate here.

Next, I'd go with square drive (Robertson drive.) A square drive screw is nice, in that you can stick it on the end of the bit, and it will stay there without you needing to hold onto the screw. It is better when you are working in tight places. Square drive screws are far less likely to strip out the head (cam out) than are Phillips drive screws. Believe me, once you use square drive, you won't go back.

There is no need to pre-drill holes for these screws. Pine 2x4 stock is soft as screws go. If I was putting a 2 1/2 inch screw through that much dry white oak or rock maple, a pilot hole would be necessary, even mandatory. Not here.

How will you drive these screws? A manual screw driver will work to drive a couple of screws. But I'll quickly grab a battery powered drill or even a powered screw driver for a job like this. 12 volts is nice, but 14.4 or 18 volts is better, but heavier. Remember, smaller batteries mean occasional recharges and battery swaps, but a lighter tool.

Finally, there are many stainless screws you will find on the market. Stainless steel is great for some applications, for example exterior decking, driven into pressure treated wood. But stainless is relatively soft. I can tear off the head of a stainless deck screw if I over-torque it. Just get a basic steel screw, made for general construction application.

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@woodchips would galvanized screws be just as good for exterior applications? are they harder than stainless steel screws? Excellent writeup +1 –  Scott Vercuski Oct 27 '10 at 11:48
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@Scott: For exterior application, you need to be careful. If the wood is new pressure treated wood, they have started using a very corrosive treatment in the last few years. From what I recall reading, it is very tough on non-stainless screws, eating them away in only a few years time. In general though, a galvanized screw will be made of harder steel than a stainless one. I've never twisted the head off trying to drive a galvanized screw, but it has definitely happened with a stainless screw. –  user558 Oct 27 '10 at 12:17
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Good answer, but for screwing two framing members together it is a good idea to do some drilling. Not a pilot hole, but a clearance hole just larger than the screw threads, and only in the clamped piece (the one nearest the screw head). If you don't do this, the threads will bite into that top piece and the screw won't pull the two pieces together. –  Mike Powell Oct 27 '10 at 12:39
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@woodchips - great point about the new treated wood. Stainless is best, but hot-dipped galvanized should work fine in the new stuff as well (as long as they are hot-dipped). –  Eric Petroelje Oct 27 '10 at 13:22
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@Mike - A 2x4 is 1.5 inches thick. How much load do you think that frame is going to take? Even driven at an angle, a 2.5 inch long screw will still go in a half inch or so. For example, driven at 45 degrees, a 2.5 inch long screw would still penetrate 1/4 inch into the framing. You won't be driving screws at a 45 degree angle. Driven at 30 degrees from perpendicular, a 2.5 inch long screw will penetrate 2/3 of an inch into the framing. This is easily enough holding power to stand on. –  user558 Oct 27 '10 at 23:29
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I'd use 2 1/2" No. 8 screws for this (assuming you are screwing through the 2" dimension of the new wood.

It will make life easier if you drill pilot holes, but it's not essential if you are using a powered screwdriver.

As for the type I've found that deck or chipboard screws seem to have the sharpest thread and so drive quite easily through wood.

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Thanks Chris. Appreciate the feedback. –  Mike B Oct 27 '10 at 15:42
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