How to Select and Use Adhesives, Screws and Nails

The story covers the different types of fasteners used for drywalling including adhesives, screws, and nails.

Adhesives, Screws, and Nails

Adhesives, screws, or nails: Which one do you choose? If you're working with wood studs, you may need all three. With steel studs, you may combine adhesive with screws.

Adhesive has several excellent properties that justify its modest cost. When you use panel adhesive, you'll reduce the number of fasteners required. That means you'll have fewer fastener heads to mud and sand, reducing materials and work while producing a smoother surface. In addition, adhesive keeps the panel solidly bonded to the framing, so you won't need to contend with drywall that rattles against the studs.

But there are some cases where you can't use adhesive. One example is when you cover exterior walls with plastic sheeting for a vapor barrier.

Even if you plan to use screws for your project, you should have a few nails on hand. They work great for quickly tacking a panel to the wall or ceiling so you can release your grip.

For professional drywallers, screws are the fastener of choice because they're fast and resist popping. You can equip your driver/drill with an inexpensive dimpler that automatically countersinks the head without breaking the surface of the paper. For even finer control of depth, buy or rent a drywall screw gun. (It's also handy for assembling wood projects.) For the ultimate in speed and one-handed operation, purchase a driver that accepts screws collated on plastic strips. It makes driving screws incredibly fast and easy.

You can get excellent results on a nail-only project if you follow some easy guidelines: Choose ringshank nails in the correct length, use a drywall hammer that produces a shallow crater, resist the urge to drive the nails too deeply, and remove all nails that miss the framing.

Step 1

After you cut the nozzle, apply drywall adhesive to the work area. Consult the manufacturer's instructions, but the usual application rate is 3/8-inch bead applied along the middle of each stud or joist. Where two sheets land on the same framing member, apply a double bead, with each one about 3/8 inch from the edge of the wood. On walls, don't apply adhesive to the top or bottom horizontal plates. Apply only to the studs, starting 6 inches from the ceiling and ending 6 inches from the floor.

Step 2

Position the panel and press it firmly in place. With some adhesives, you can drive nails or screws immediately. Other adhesives suggest that you pull the drywall back for a few minutes, then press it back into place for improved joint strength. Consult the directions on the tube. Don't get too far ahead of yourself when applying adhesive. A bead that's over 15 minutes old has lost enough solvent to weaken the bond.

Step 3

Fasten the drywall with nails or screws according to the chart. Be sure that you push the panel firmly against the framing member when driving the fastener -- don't rely on the fastener to pull the drywall against the wood. Also make certain that you don't break the panel's paper by driving the fasteners too deeply.

Step 4

Tap the edge of your fist along each framing member to ensure that the adhesive makes firm contact with the back of the drywall. If the panel flexes outward after you tap it down, add another fastener at that point. Allow the adhesive to cure for 48 hours before taping the joints.

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