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Proper Sheetrock Nail Spacing is the Key to Preventing Loose Panels, Weak Joints, Multiple Nail-Pops, and Other On-going Problems

You will only need to check the sheetrock nail spacing on the “butt joints” and the “edges” of your panels if drywall construction adhesive was used in the hanging stage.

Most cases of do-it-yourself drywall involve drywall installation over wooden framing. If adhesive wasn’t used to hang your drywall panels to the wood framing, then you’ll want to systematically check each separate part of the job (for example – the butt joints, the inside corners, the outside corners. etc.). Each separate part is shown in the Sheetrock Nail Spacing Checklist at the end of this web page. Also, if you used nails to hang the walls (without adhesive), THEN YOU MUST USE DRYWALL SCREWS FOR THE FOLLOWING STEPS.

Butt Joints: This is the most critical area. Check the distance between the fasteners. THE SHEETROCK NAIL SPACING SHOULD RESEMBLE THE BUTTONS ON YOUR SHIRT! The maximum spacing should be 5 inches. If your butt-joint fasteners measure at 6 or more inches, then place another screw in between them. When it comes to butt joints:


Tip: It is often easier to drive screws into a butt joint with a standard-cordless screw gun – (drywall screw guns can prove to be awkward for getting the perfect angle on the screw). Also remember that if you’re having trouble hitting the stud and the joint gap is minimal, you can place the screw directly on the centerline (as shown below). This is better than taping over panel edges that aren’t fastened down.


In the photo above, the butt joint did not line up perfectly with the stud. To use this method, BOTH PANELS MUST REST ON THE STUD. In other words, never try to build a butt joint where one side is unsupported and “floating in space”. In the case shown above, the panels are bonded and fastened over a plaster wall.

Recessed Joints: If your drywall panels are hung with the long-recessed edge parallel to the framing members, the maximum sheetrock nail spacing (on the joint) should be 12 inches. If they’re hung with the long-recessed edge perpendicular to the framing members, check to see that both sides of every joint are fastened at each stud. Look for fasteners that have broken through the face paper because they aren’t holding the panel securely in that location. If this is the case, you should always place another screw near that location.

Sheetrock Nail Spacing
for Non-Glued Walls

Butt Joints : 5-inch max.
Recessed Joints: Either 12-inch max. (or) 1 at every stud
Inside Corners: 12-inch max.
Outside Corners (for tape-on type bead): 8-inch max
Tops & Bottoms of Each Wall: 10-inch max
Field Areas: 12-inch max

“Nail spacing” is the measured distance between each fastener (Nails or Screws). The "field" is the middle area of each panel - as opposed to the edges.

On new construction, insulated exterior walls sometimes require specific fastener spacing due to building codes, etc. You may need to consult a local expert in this case.

Related Articles:

Tips on Hanging Drywall - Links
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How to inspect a hanging job and other tips on hanging drywall. Can you tell the difference between a good hanging job and a BAD one? Do you know what to look for, or what to ask for in a hanging job?

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Install a new tub/shower unit that NEVER CRACKS at the wall! Bathroom walls sheetrock tips for permanently fixing a tub/shower that just keeps cracking!

Tips on Installing Drywall - Definitions
The following definitions and tips on installing drywall will help to speed your learning.

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