Adjust the screw gun tip for accurate depth
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Photo 1: Adjust screw gun depth
Twist the nosepiece on the screw
gun to adjust the screw depth.
Practice driving screws on a scrap of
drywall backed by wood until you get the
setting just right.
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Photo 2: Proper screw depth
The screw on the top is too shallow. There's no space for joint
compound. The middle screw is just right. There's a recess for joint
compound and the paper face of the drywall is intact. The screw on
the bottom is too deep. The paper face is torn through; the screw won't hold.
Don't be tempted to use your
cordless screwdriver or regular
drill to drive drywall screws.
Neither will give you the precise
depth control you need for trouble-
free fastening. Use a screw gun
instead. They're reasonably priced and available at home centers and tool
Photo 1 shows how to adjust the
screw gun to set screws at the correct
depth. Practice driving screws
on a scrap of drywall or in a closet
to get the hang of it before tackling
your room. Start by placing a screw
on the magnetic driver tip. Then
line up the screw with the center of
the framing and squeeze the trigger
to bring the driver up to speed.
After the motor is running full
speed, press straight in and don't
release the pressure until the clutch
starts to ratchet. You'll know by the
clattering sound it makes.
Make sure the drywall is tight
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Photo 1: Push drywall against studs
Press against the drywall
while you drive in screws.
Don't release the pressure
until you've driven two or three
screws into the framing to distribute
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Screws will pop through the drywall if there is a gap between the stud and the drywall. Pushing the drywall tight and fastening several screws in the area will solve the problem.
Crooked studs or puffed-out
insulation can prevent the drywall
from lying tightly against the
studs. If the gap is too large, the
screwhead will pop through
rather than pulling the drywall
Tack with nails, but fasten with screws
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Fasten the drywall in place with a few ring-shank nails around the edges.
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Finish fastening the drywall with drywall screws, which resist popping and hold better than nails.
Buy 1-1/4-in. coarse-thread drywall screws to attach 3/8-in., 1/2-in. and 5/8-in. drywall to wood framing. Use
fine-thread screws to attach drywall to steel studs. Place screws 12 in. apart where the ends or edges of
sheets butt at framing members, and along each framing member in the center of the sheet. Don't use
longer screws unless you're screwing through soft material like foam insulation into the
underlying framing. The screws should only penetrate the wood 5/8 to 3/4 in.
Any deeper and they'll be prone to popping later.
For a speedier job, take a tip from the pros and tack the perimeter
of the sheets with several ring-shank drywall nails to hold it.
Then return to drive the screws. This saves you the hassle of
carrying the screw gun around while you're supporting the
Provide solid backing on edges before hanging the sheet
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Photo 1: Add backing at corners
backing at the
walls and ceiling if it's
missing. Drill clearance
holes at an angle
through the top plate.
Then drive 3-in. drywall
screws into the
2x4 while you hold it
down with your other
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Photo 2: Add cleats
Nail or screw cleats
than recutting the
sheet. Be careful to
align the face of the
cleat flush with the
face of the existing
framing before you
nail or screw it in.
Inspect inside corners
where walls intersect
and along the top of
walls where they meet
the ceiling. The goal is
to provide at least 3/4
in. of exposed framing
to drive screws
into. If you can't
swing a hammer in
tight spots, screw in
blocking with 3-in.
screws. Keep a few
lumber scraps handy
so you can add backing
on the fly if necessary
Mark the framing
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Photo 1: Mark studs and joists
screws by marking
all framing members
before you start
hanging drywall. Mark
the ceiling framing on the
top plate of the walls.
Avoid climbing a ladder
by taping a pencil to the
end of a stick and using
this to mark the framing.
Then after the ceiling drywall
is hung, mark the
centers of the wall studs
on the ceiling drywall.
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Photo 2: Show stud locations
Mark the center
of wall framing
members on the
floor with a pencil or
marker. When you secure
the upper sheets of drywall,
make sure to center
a fastener on each framing
member before hanging
the lower sheet. Then
align a straightedge with
the fastener and the
marks on the floor and
draw a pencil line to
mark the center of the
It's frustrating to have to
guess where framing
members are after they're
covered with drywall.
Avoid this hassle by
marking all the framing
members before you start
hanging the drywall.
Mark the center of each
ceiling framing member
on the top plate of the
walls (Photo 1). After you
hang the ceiling drywall,
mark the wall stud centers
on the ceiling drywall
and on the floor (Photo
2). Use a pencil when
marking on drywall. Ink
from markers and pens
will bleed through the
Remove the screws that missed the framing
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Pull out screws that don't catch the framing; they'll cause problems later when taping.
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Photo 1: The solution
Remove screws that miss framing. Set the screw
gun to reverse (there's usually a little lever near the
switch). With the screw gun running in reverse,
apply sideways pressure to the tip of the screw gun while
you pull it back and away from the wall to withdraw the
screw. Even if the screw doesn't come out, it should be
loosened enough to pull out by hand.
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Photo 2: Clean up screw tears
Recess the fuzzy holes left from screws that
have been removed. Press the back of your utility
knife against the screw hole and twist while
applying pressure to make a divot. Fill the recess later
with joint compound.
Even with careful preparation, you'll occasionally
miss a stud, drive a screw too deep
or have trouble driving a screw deep enough.
The screws don't usually back out easily.
Photo 1 shows one method of removing
screws with your screw gun. If this doesn't
work, slide a putty knife blade under the
head and press it against the threads while
you back out the screw with your screw gun,
cordless drill or Phillips screwdriver. If you
overdrive a screw and break through the
paper, add another screw a few inches away
and then remove the overdriven screw.
Locate underdriven screws by sliding your
taping knife over each line of screws and listening
for clicks that indicate protruding
screws. Use a screwdriver to twist them in a
few turns, or remove them and drive a new
screw alongside with the screw gun.