What are the sizes of drywall nails? Which one is used the most?

Drywall nails, specifically designed for hanging drywall sheets, come in various sizes and have unique features to improve their holding power and reduce the risk of damaging the drywall. Here are more detailed aspects about drywall nails:

Sizes of Drywall Nails

  • 1 inch (25 mm): Suitable for thinner drywall sheets or in situations where space is limited.
  • 1.25 inches (32 mm): The most commonly used size, providing a good balance between holding power and ease of installation.
  • 1.375 inches (35 mm): Slightly longer, offering extra holding power for heavier drywall or where more security is needed.
  • 1.5 inches (38 mm): Used for thicker drywall sheets or when attaching through multiple layers or into deeper studs.

Types and Features

  1. Ring Shank or Annular Ring Nails:
    • These nails have rings around the shank, increasing the holding power by providing more friction within the drywall and stud.
    • Prevents the nail from loosening over time.
  2. Cement Coated Nails:
    • These nails are coated with cement to enhance grip.
    • Ideal for ensuring the nail stays in place even with the expansion and contraction of materials.
  3. Barbed Shank Nails:
    • Similar to ring shank nails but with barbs to improve holding power.
    • Suitable for heavy-duty applications where maximum holding strength is required.
  4. Smooth Shank Nails:
    • Easier to drive in, but have less holding power compared to ring or barbed shank nails.
    • Often used for lighter drywall applications or where ease of installation is prioritized.

Head Types

  • Flat Head:
    • Provides a large surface area to prevent the nail from pulling through the drywall.
    • Easier to conceal with joint compound during finishing.
  • Countersunk Head:
    • Designed to sit flush or slightly below the drywall surface, making it easier to cover with joint compound.

Most Common Use

The 1.25-inch (32 mm) drywall nail with a ring shank and flat head is the most commonly used due to its optimal length for securely attaching standard 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch drywall sheets to wooden studs. This size and type provide a good combination of ease of installation, adequate holding power, and minimal risk of damaging the drywall.

Installation Tips

  • Spacing: Nails should be spaced about 7 inches apart along the edges and 12 inches apart in the field (center area) of the drywall sheet.
  • Pre-drilling: While generally unnecessary for drywall nails, pre-drilling can help in harder wood studs to prevent splitting.
  • Using a Hammer: Use a drywall hammer with a rounded, convex head to avoid tearing the paper face of the drywall.


  • Drywall Screws: In many modern applications, drywall screws are preferred over nails due to their superior holding power and reduced risk of “nail pops” (where the nail head pushes out from the drywall surface over time).

Understanding these details will help in choosing the right drywall nails for specific applications, ensuring a secure and long-lasting drywall installation.

More from LALA