Why Are My Drywall Screws Popping Out?


A 12-foot piece of drywall requires 46 screws to attach to a wall and 54 screws to install to a ceiling. A crew can hang 4,000 to 5,000 square feet in a day, which requires roughly 4,700 screws. Per 1,000 square feet of drywall, that equates to about 1,000 screws. It is not uncommon for a dozen screws to pop out of a house’s 25,000 to 35,000 screws.

Drywall screws pop out if the contractor or handyman deeply installs them, jeopardizing their capacity to hold the drywall panel in place. Also, moisture and temperature can cause the studs where the drywall is to flex and expand, causing a gap and eventually causing the screw to shift.

If many screws pop out, it’s simply the result of poor workmanship, and it is hard to believe that no one noticed before completing the job. In different states, the GC inspects the drywall before taping begins to avoid the ‘screw pop-out problem’.

9 Main Reasons Why Drywall Screws Pop Out

Popping screws are regular, yet they can be an eyesore. Read on if you have issues with your drywall screws and want to understand why they are popping out.

1. Deep Installation Of Drywall Screws

Manufacturers design the head of the drywall fastener to keep the panel in place and guarantee that it remains attached to the stud.

Since the surface of a drywall panel is thin and paper-like, it may likely penetrate and breakthrough that layer if you install the screws too profoundly. You jeopardize the screw’s capacity to hold the drywall in place if this happens.

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It also weakens the screw, increasing the chances of it popping out over time. Therefore, precisely placing the drywall screw to the proper depth is critical in preventing screw pops.

2. Moisture And Temperature

If you install the screws in drywall panels without moisture control, expansion or contraction of wood studs can break them loose over time.

Excessive heat also affects the board because high temperatures cause rapid evaporation, which results in a rapid increase in humidity levels inside your walls, leading to screw pop-outs, mold, and mildew growth. 

When any of these things happen, the drywall’s structural integrity is weakened, resulting in a soft and weak core.

3. Expansion And Contraction Of Studs

Wood studs expand and contract as the temperature changes. If your screws are not tight enough, they can break loose because of this movement which causes them to pop out over time.

Additionally, if your home is on expansive terrain, the soil may expand during the wet season, causing structural movement. 

When it dries, it may move again, which is more dangerous because it is a structural issue, and you may have to deal with more than just screws popping out.

4. Faulty Drywall Installation

Suppose you hire a contractor who makes numerous errors during installation, such as nailing through the drywall’s paper surface or using the incorrect screws. In that case, you will likely to experience screw pops. 

NOTE: An inadequate fastener is not enough for drywall installation; you require special tools and knowledge to avoid this problem.

Moreover, if your contractor does not take measurements before cutting holes or making cuts, then there’s a big chance that he will mess up your walls.

5. Wrong Length Of Drywall Screws

Using the right screw for the job is paramount. It means using screws that are long enough to hold your drywall panels in place without breaking through them or short enough not to penetrate too deep into wood studs which can weaken them over time.

So, if you don’t use the correct drywall screw length, there’s a higher chance it’ll pop out later. 

6. Too Few Or Too Many Screws

If you notice that your drywall has fewer or more than necessary, it might be an issue of workmanship. An average household requires about 1600 screws, and a standard job uses all the screws included in the box.

The drywall manufacturer should determine the number of screws to use. There are apparent problems when there are too few, and when there are too many, there is more mudding.

7. Truss Uplifts

Your home’s roof trusses may move or lift as a result of seasonal changes and temperature swings, putting stress on your drywall and causing screws to pop out after time.

Drywall panels installed on trusses may easily pop out due to the irregular movement of these structures.

If you notice screws popping out of your wall, look for bulges in your ceiling that could indicate a structural problem.

8. Drywall Screws Not Installed At Proper Angles

Screws pop out for several reasons, but installing them at the correct angle and depth is an easy way to prevent at least one of the reasons.

Drywall installation requires an angle of between 30 and 45 degrees. It means that you should install all screws at a specific angle to prevent popping out over time. 

If your contractor installs them too closely or too far apart, they will not hold as well as they should, which might cause some problems in the future.

9. Movements Of your Drywall As Your House Settles

Due to open-air exposure during storage, the lumber or wood frame used to construct your home may contain moisture.

Houses will settle over time, and this can result in some problems. When the walls move or shrink, screws tend to loosen up, which causes them to pop out of place.

The studs behind the drywall may flex or shift slightly as the wood cures, causing the screws to move as well. The joint compound that covers the fastener that holds the drywall sheet in place loosens up as well.

That’s when you’ll notice a bulge on the surface, and if the compound entirely breaks, you might even see the screw head. However, you need not be concerned because this is usually merely a cosmetic issue.

How Can I Avoid Drywall Screws Popping Out?

Even though it’s unavoidable, there are certain things you can do to keep drywall screws from popping out.

Control The Moisture

The best way to keep screws from popping out is by controlling the moisture level in your home. Moisture may cause wood studs to warp and expand. Still, it can seep through drywall seams, causing them to swell up, making the problem worse over time.

 This is why you need a vapor barrier or sealer behind all of your walls. This is an exampleOpens in a new tab. of a vapor barrier (on Amazon). It prevents moisture from getting inside and causing any problems in the future while also preventing mold growth behind wall surfaces

Use Appropriate Fasteners

Screws that are either too short, or are too long will cause them to pop out after some time because they don’t hold your drywall sheets securely in place.

To avoid this, make sure the fasteners you use are the correct length for the job and penetrate wood studs correctly without penetrating too far or breaking through them, which can weaken their structure.

Use Drywall Screw Anchors

A screw anchor is a preformed metal sleeve used to hold screws in place. They’re also known as screw-holding anchors or molly bolts, and they are inserted into the drywall so you can attach items securely without popping out over time. 

Use the Proper Screw Length

The length of your screws is also crucial because it determines the amount of force they can handle.

Screws that are too long will puncture through and weaken the stud, resulting in popping out over time. It will help if you choose a screw that can pierce the stud by ¾ of an inch (1.91 cm).

TIP: If you’re working with a half-inch (1.27-cm) thick drywall, use a screw that’s at least one 14-inch long (3.18-cm). The same goes for short screws as well; if you use a screw that’s not long enough to hold drywall securely into place, it can pop out over time.

Do Not Overuse The Screws

Sometimes it’s tempting to use more screws than you need, especially if the drywall panels are heavy or oversized. However, this can result in pops out because it can weaken the stud more than necessary.

It would help if you used screws that are sturdy enough to hold the drywall in place, but not so many it weakens the structure of your house.

Here’s an article I wrote about how strong drywall screws are and how to make the best use of them.

Be Careful With Nails

Driving a nail through one of the drywall seams can also cause the fastener to pop out over time. If you see nails holding your panels in place, make sure they are correctly covered with the joint compound so the screw will stick when you install them.

How Can I Repair Drywall Screws Popping Out?

Wood swells and contracts with changes in moisture levels or temperature, which can cause joints that hold drywall panels together to crack open.

Don’t assume that just popping the screws back into the walls will solve the problem entirely. You may need to repair them yourself or ask for a professional’s help if the drywall has been damaged.

How To Fix Drywall Screw Pop-Outs

  1. Remove the aged screws– Remove the drywall compound with a drywall knife once you’ve found the location where the screw is popping out.

    After that, you should remove the old screw. You may use your trusty screwdriver for this, a drywall screw gun, or a cordless screwdriver if you want to make the work easier.
  1. Pluck the drywall– Use pliers to remove any loose pieces of drywall from where the screw is popping out. If there’s still some left on it, you can use your fingers and gently pull them. 
  1. Secure the loose drywall– After removing the old screws, you can secure the loose drywall back into the stud by using drywall screws.

    You can choose to use galvanized or stainless-steel screws depending on the type of wall you’re working with, but it would help if they are well-sized (around ¾ inch long). If there’s no stud behind the former hole, drill a new one before attaching any fasteners.
  1. Apply joint compound– Use a drywall knife to apply joint compound over the hole. You can use a drywall compound like this oneOpens in a new tab. from Amazon to fill the screw heads. You need to apply one layer, and you may patch and paint over the area within an hour.

    Many professionals favor five-minute quick-set types for minor patches since you can use a second and third coat within minutes of the first. However, not all quick-set muds are created equal; some have poor adherence and require extra glue.

    It would be best to be generous when doing it because you want your surface area filled until wholly covered with the compound. Leave it aside for 24 hours before sanding and painting.
  1. Sand the area– Once the compound is dry, you can use a hand sander with fine-grain sandpaper to smooth out the area. Using the sandpaper, feather out the edges.

    Here’s a good choice for a hand sanderOpens in a new tab. available at Amazon for quick DIY repair jobs on your drywall.

    Please make sure there are no ridges, and when the color begins to blend in with the surrounding area, know that you’ve done an excellent job feathering it!
  1. Prime & Paint– After following the steps, make sure that you prime before painting so moisture from underneath will not be trapped. The primer also protects the joint compound while preparing the surface for painting.

    The patch will absorb the paint if you don’t use a primer. Apply the color after that. When painting a tiny area, you don’t need to use a lot of paint. Use a paintbrush to roll over the edges to add a little texture and help it blend better.

Types Of Drywall Screws

Drywall screws feature deeper threads than standard screws, making them more difficult to dislodge from drywall. They are constructed of steel and must be drilled into the drywall using a power screwdriver.

Furthermore, you can utilize drywall screws and plastic anchors to help disperse the weight of the drywall equally across the surface. The length and pitch of drywall screws differentiate them.

Different Types of Drywall Screws

  • S-Type: The S-type drywall screw is the most extended type. It has a sharp point penetrating any surface, making it ideal for hard materials like metal or wood. The average length of an S-Type Drywall Screw ranges between ⅜ inches to ¾ of an inch.
  • W-Type: The W-type drywall screw features a sizeable fluted tip that provides enhanced chip clearance, allowing it to drill into wood or metal more quickly than other types. The average length ranges between ¼ to ½ of an inch.
  • Heavy Duty Type: The Heavy-Duty Type drywall screw is ideal for attaching wood or metal studs to masonry. It has a sharp point and thread pattern that resists cam-out when installed in hard materials like drywall, brick, stone, cinder block, concrete, and mortar. The average length ranges between ⅝ of an inch to ¾ of an inch. The heavy-duty type can support up to 400 lbs.
  • Self-Drilling Type: The Self Drilling drywall screw is an auger type with threads on the outside, making it ideal for drilling into metal studs without pre-drilling. The average length ranges between ⅜ inches to ¾ of an inch. The self-drilling types can hold 300 lbs.
  • Standard Type: The Standard drywall screw has a sharp point that penetrates any surface. It is the most common type of fastener used to attach drywall and other wall coverings, like paneling or gypsum board, to wood studs in homes and buildings. The average length ranges between ⅛ inches to ¼ of an inch. The standard type can carry 200 lbs.

Conclusion

Screws can pop out of drywall because of continual contraction and expansion of the studs into which they are driven.

You can’t stop studs from absorbing or releasing moisture, but you can manage how much humidity they absorb or release. And lastly, you can control the amount of moisture vapor in the air by using a dehumidifier.

John

I love fixing up my own home and I set up this blog to help others do the same.

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