7 Steps to Screw Drywall to Wood Studs

Attaching sheets of drywall to your 2×4 studs the right way makes a huge difference. If you do it right, plastering and painting are a breeze. If your drywall isn’t properly attached you’ll have visible screw heads, messy patches, and cracks. I’ve developed a system that makes securing drywall fast and easy. All you need is a few simple tools and the right know-how.

1. Assemble Your Tools

Use these 1 ⅜-inch drywall screws to attach your drywall to wood studs. They’re long enough to hold thick drywall in place and they won’t back out like nails do.

A list of tools to tackle any drywall job.
With these tools, you can tackle almost any drywall job.

Besides screws, you’ll need an electric drill to drive the screws. You should also have a measuring tape, a carpenter’s pencil, and a utility knife handy.

2. Measure the Distance Between Studs

Before you cover your wall with a sheet of drywall, use your measuring tape to find the distance between the wall studs.

A list of a wall stud distance guide.
Find the “on center” distance between studs so you can perfectly secure your drywall.

Find the distance between the center of the first stud and the center of the stud next to it. Your screws need to be driven into the center of the stud, so the “on-center” measurement is more important than knowing the space between studs. Once you find the on-center distance between your wall studs, write the number down.

3. Position Your Drywall

Before you can start attaching drywall, it’s essential to get it in position first. With the help of an assistant, hold the sheet of drywall in position up against the wall.

If you’re starting at the edge of a wall, position the drywall so that one of the manufactured edges is flush with the corner of the wall. Then, determine if the drywall sheet fits horizontally and vertically in the space. If it’s too large, you’ll need to cut it.

4. Mark the Position of Each Stud

With your drywall sheet in position, it’s time to mark the center line of each stud on the face of the drywall. So, starting at the edge of your drywall, use your center-to-center measurement to locate each stud. Then, mark this location with a pencil.

A screw that has been driven in along the line where the stud runs behind the wall.
I drove this screw along the line where the stud runs behind my wall.

All of the screws you drive into your drywall must be driven into these studs. So, take your time. If you need to remove your drywall and double-check your measurements, do so.

5. Cut Drywall if Necessary

Drywall must be attached to a wall stud at both the left and right edges. If your drywall is not secured along an edge, it will bend and flex, which causes cracks in your finished wall. To prevent this problem, cut your drywall along the centerline of the stud closest to the edge.

Cut drywall along the centerline of a stud so someone can screw two pieces to the same stud.
I cut this drywall along the centerline of the stud so I could screw two pieces to the same stud.

Use your pencil to mark the drywall along the centerline of the stud closest to the drywall edge. Then, use your utility knife to cut your drywall so the edge lines up with the center of the stud.

6. Drive Screws to the Proper Depth

Along each vertical stud, drive in one screw every 12 inches (30 cm) to secure the drywall to the stud. Make sure

Three images showing the correct depth to drive screws when attaching drywall to wood studs.
Drive screws to the correct depth to make patching easy and avoid drywall damage.

Drive the screws just deeply enough that there is a slight dimple where the screw sinks into the drywall. If the screw is not driven deeply enough, it will show through the joint compound when you finish the wall. If the screw is too deep, it will tear through the drywall.

7. Solve the Seams

At seams where two pieces of drywall meet, make sure both sheets of drywall are screwed to the stud. This will require measuring, cutting, and slight adjustments.

Image where someone has secured two sheets of drywall to the same stud where the two sheets meet.
Secure both sheets of drywall to the same stud where the two sheets meet.

Don’t worry if there are slight gaps between sheets of drywall where they meet. As long as the gap is less than ½-inch (13 mm), you patch them and prevent drywall seams showing through paint.

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