I'm replacing water-damaged drywall on my ceiling and was considering using screws. Other than cost, is there any other reason I should use nails instead?

Or am I too paranoid that nails won't have enough holding power? I'd prefer the cheapest option that's still going to be effective.

6 Answers 6


There is absolutely no reason to use nails in this day and age. I urge you to use 1 5/8" drywall screws. There are several reasons. Screws have much better holding power, they are actually faster to install, and they can be slightly counter sunk during installation to make mudding a lot easier ( especially with a drywall screw gun or a decent drywall bit that can be used in any drill). Nails can loosen with age and "pop" out through the mud coat, cracking your paint. The difference in price is negligible, but the difference in performance is massive. Drywall finish is the end result of a room project, the surface you will see for a very long time, don't cheat yourself. Do it well, use screws and a good gun or bit. Good Luck.

  • 1
    Plus, if have adjoining neighbors, screws are a lot quieter. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 12:22
  • Agreed. I've had to replace far too many nails in drywall with screws. When I see nails in drywall, it makes me angry.
    – RQDQ
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 20:45

Home Depot has them, as I'm sure does Lowe's, a Phillips head bit with a collar around it that'll stop the driving of the screw once you reach the surface of the drywall; they're used to counter sink the screw without breaking the paper (important).

We used them in the kitchen and I'll be using them this week on the bedrooms; I wanna say a pack of 5 is less then $10? Last time I bought them, they were DeWalt brand I think.

Great "tool" for making the job a little easier.

I agree with the posts above; screws have a better grip and the fastener is the first stage of the finished product; no one wants to see nail pops or the like - not saying you won't have screw pops over the first year; we have 1 or 2 in the kitchen and we did it 2 years ago; but I'd think you'd have far less than if you used nails.


There are a few places where nails are backing out of the drywall in my house, particularly on the bathroom ceilings. I don't know the cause (movement? house is about 40 years old), or if "doing it correctly" would have mitigated against this in the first place. But it looks terrible; and I'm using screws as I repair areas to prevent this from occurring again.


Ring nails a.k.a. drywall nails should be used on the perimeter of the sheets and screws in the "field" of the sheet. The most important factor in fastening drywall is not tearing the paper which greatly reduces the holding power of the fastener and leads to sagging or cracking. The perimeter of the sheets have to be fastened so close to the edge that screws often tear the paper or completely cause the edge of the drywall to blow out. Use ring nails on the perimeter and space them about every 8" on ceilings and every 10" on walls. When nailing or screwing drywall, ALWAYS make sure that the fastener goes in at a right angle and not crooked: the head of a crooked fastener will tear the paper every time.

  • 5
    Careful driving of drywall screws at the edges has less chance of bursting out the drywall than hammering away on it to install ring shanked nails. I can say this with over 40 years of drywall installation experience where at one time nails were really the only choice. Do get the proper installation tool for the screws if you are continuing to have screw breakout near the edges. It can help a whole lot.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 10:50

Drywall nails are better and easier for the DIYer. Screws are a pain and do not grab as much surface area as nails. Nails, when driven in drywall are countersunk slightly and give a much larger area for drywall.

Screws are the cheap way for pros to go and they will always take the cheap over the better. I have been in 400K and 600K new home that are a few years old and you can see the screws holes due to the tiny countersunk and steep dent that mud was put into. Yes, cheep screws and bad mud jobs.



(if you use non-ringed drywall nails in a ceiling: yes they will have popping issues, but no one ever said non-ringed were ok for ceilings!! popping nails are a rumor - no one ever used non-ringed i hope.)

For my joists (late 1970's good wood), I just pulled down drywall for sagging (NOT for popping, due to installation issues). The ringed nails are DIFFICULT to move or get out with hammer OR nail puller ... all of them: but easier than pliers with screws obviously.

Why is because I'm going into JOISTS. If the ceiling ever needs replacement can you imagine the mess of removing asia made screws that are mudded and painted? Get your pliers and all day cussing, it's a little spoken "issue" with asian drywall screws. You only find a little chat on a forum of some poor soul asking others how to do it.

Some say you can just "hammer off drywall screws" (smack on the side, they break, due to being brittle). If that's your plan: better try it to make sure it works: there is no such thing as "justice" when it comes to standaards. You have no idea if the screw maker did or didn't mix the metal just right for this "contractor tip" to work.

Ringed Drywall Nails are cheaper, HOLD GREAT, and do not require purchase of a good quality $350 Dewalt ratcheting screw gun. They are definitely an option for (DiY) projects.

  • 1
    Screws only require a basic drill, which pretty much everyone already has. The fancy screw gun is for if you want go fast. And if you ever need to remove the drywall, just pull it down, then... unscrew the screws. It's not rocket science. Commented Oct 15, 2020 at 1:50
  • If you can't knock 'em down with a hammer, break out the sawzall. It will take at most a few minutes to chop all the screws on the ceiling of a large room. Hardly a concern.
    – sleblanc
    Commented Oct 16, 2020 at 21:36

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