How Many Screws To Use When Installing Drywall

When you’re installing drywall, there are building codes that cover just about everything, and you’ll want to know how many screws to use per panel for all of your drywall projects. It’s important not just to pass inspections, but for a quality job, to avoid screw pops and make sure your drywall looks good and lasts for a long time. Screw placement and quantity differ based on whether you’re working on the wall or ceiling, whether you use construction adhesive and whether you’re attaching drywall to wood or metal framing.

This article will go over how many drywall screws you should use per panel, different screw patterns, drywall screw spacing, and tips on how to attach all kinds of drywall in different situations.

how many screws per sheet of drywall

Number of Screws Per Panel

For the majority of your drywall panels, you should use 32 screws per sheet of drywall. This is a very loose rule of thumb, and you’ll encounter different opinions from drywall installers and contractors. Always check your local building codes before you begin and adhere to all guidelines for ceilings and location guidelines. A good way to estimate how many screws you’ll need for your project is to use one screw per square foot of 1/2 inch drywall attached to wood framing.

Drywall comes in different lengths; the most common, especially for home DIY projects, is 4 x 8-foot drywall. Most of the time, drywall is hung on walls horizontally, and in the average house, studs are placed 16 inches on center – meaning the center of each stud is 16 inches away from its neighbor. When attaching 4 x 8-foot sheetrock, you want to put a screw every eight inches along the edges of the panel. This is where your drywall will butt up against each other, and you’ll want the lip to be secured tightly – this is where the drywall is most likely to pull away from the studs. You’ll want to run one screw into the center of each stud across the horizontal edges. This will also help you line up your field screws when you go to fill them in.

In the field of the drywall and along the edges that run perpendicular to the wall studs, use a screw every 16 inches. This is a total of 32 screws for each sheet of drywall. Six along each edge and four through each stud on the field. A 4 x 8-foot drywall panel will span seven studs. This number of screws is adequate for all types of drywall.

Since ceiling drywall is attached across strapping and not the ceiling framing directly, and it’s holding more weight, drywall screw spacing for ceilings is closer together, and you’ll need more fasteners.

Related: What type of drywall is used for ceilings?

There’s more stress on drywall attached to the ceiling, and it is not recommended you try to use nails. For a 4 x 8-foot sheet of drywall hung on the ceiling, you should use 36 screws. Ceiling drywall is attached to strapping that runs perpendicular to the framing. Edges should have a screw every seven to eight inches, and the field screws should be 12 inches apart.

If you’re using drywall glue, you still have to use fasteners, just not as many. Apply a steady bead of glue along each joint or a gob of drywall glue at least every 12 inches, and attach the drywall right away. Drywall glue will start to set quickly. Use the same number of screws along the edges, but you can use much less in the field. Attach extra screws anywhere you expect problems with drywall adhesion.

If you’re using 4 x 12 or 16-foot drywall sheets, you’ll need to adjust the number of screws. Here’s a table to help conceptualize how many screws you’ll need for different lengths of drywall.

Wall Drywall EdgesEvery 8 Inches
Wall Drywall FieldEvery 16 Inches
Ceiling Drywall EdgesEvery 7 – 8 Inches
Ceiling Drywall FieldEvery 12 Inches
Wal Drywall Edges With AdhesiveEvery 8 Inches
Ceiling Drywall Edges With AdhesiveEvery 7 – 8 Inches
Wall And Ceiling Drywall Field With AdhesiveEvery 24 Inches
Wall Metal Framing EdgesEvery 8 Inches
Wall Metal Framing FieldEvery 12 Inches

Edge Screws

The most important screws are the ones along the edges. Too close to the very edge and your screws will cause the edges to crumble. Keep the screws at least 1/2 inch away from the edges.

Many professionals will stagger the screws along the edges with the adjoining panel. This prevents you from having two crumbling edges in the same place. Keep the spacing in mind and try to stagger along an edge. Staggering field screws is not necessary, but it won’t hurt either.

How To Attach Drywall

If you’re using adhesive, apply the adhesive one panel at a time along with the wall studs. Start with drywall on ceilings. This is where having a friend or a drywall panel lift comes in handy. If you’re attaching ceiling panels by yourself, you can use blocks screwed loosely at the drywall edges to hold panels in place. Screw the block in so it rotates on the screw and position the ceiling drywall panels between the woodblock and the strapping.

Related: Is strapping required for drywall?

Quickly attach the drywall with at least four screws, two at each end. Many drywallers do the four edges first, marking where studs are with screws along the edges, then fill the field screws in rows according to where the edge screws indicated a stud.

Wall drywall is usually hung horizontally. Each drywall panel has to end in the middle of a joist. If your home isn’t framed the standard 16-inches on center, or a drywall panel doesn’t end in the middle of a stud, you’ll have to trim it. Always mark where electrical boxes, light fixtures, etc., are so you can cut holes in the panels after they’re hung.

Screws should be countersunk, so they indent the drywall paper. If you sink them too far, you’ll rip the drywall paper, and that screw is no longer holding its weight – you’ll have to add an additional screw or back that one out and reattach it at least 1/2-inch away. The easiest way to drive drywall screws is with an electric drywall screw gun, but an electric drill or impact driver with a dimpler or screw setter will work.

Related: Our review of the best screw setters.

Always double-check your work to make sure you’ve got the appropriate number of screws while your tools are still out, and run a blade over the surface of the drywall to check for ‘clickers.’


Though the vast majority of drywall installers will use screws exclusively, you can use nails. It is more difficult, especially on the ceiling, and takes much longer, but you can do it. Drywall nails are generally ring-shank drywall nails that grip the wood and hold the drywall tight against the wood studs. Nails cannot be used to attach drywall to metal studs. The major benefit of nails is that they’re cheaper than drywall screws, and some pro still use nails to attach sheets of drywall initially.

Since nails do not have the holding power of drywall screws, you will have to use more of them. Some building codes require up to twice the number of nails for drywall installation.

Too Many Screws

While there is not much harm in going overboard with your screws, there are some disadvantages to putting in more than enough screws. First, it will make your drywall job take longer, and extra fasteners will make it more expensive. You have to cover the screws in drywall compound, sand, and finish, so there is more time and materials during finishing, too. It’s also more likely that you’ll end up hitting a screw when hanging or installing things on the finished drywall. It’s not a huge deal, and it’s always better to have too many fasteners than not enough.

Not Enough Screws

If you don’t put in enough screws, your building will likely not be up to code. Always check local codes and always meet building requirements for safety. Not enough screws will also make it much more likely that you’ll get screw pops. These screws are no longer holding up the drywall, and with enough pops, your drywall with be compromised. Screw pops are also unsightly and show through the paint, so you’ll have to repair them.

As you can see, the correct number of screws, screw spacing, and screw pattern is important for a long-lasting and professional-looking drywall job. If you take the time to sink every screw correctly and are thoughtful about how you stagger them on the drywall, you’ll have an easier time finishing the walls and will experience fewer problems (like screw pops and crumbling drywall) in the future. A good rule of thumb is 32 screws per 4 x8 foot wall panel and 36 screws for each ceiling panel. For wood-framed houses, use 1 1/4 inch coarse thread drywall screws.

Be patient and be aware of your screws.