Do Drywall Screws Rust?

Screws are screws right? Believe it or not there are many different types of screws that are used for certain projects or situations. This means that they are made from different materials and configured differently in order to get their specific job they are designed for done in their own special way.

In this article we will be specifically talking about the drywall screw. Just like the name gives away it is typically used to hangup sheets of dry wall to wall studs or ceiling joists.. I know, mind blowing stuff right? So one question we may ask ourselves related to drywall screw is… do drywall screws rust? Even though the black phosphate outer coating will help prevent rusting of a drywall screw, these screws will eventually rust. Since after awhile drywall screws will rust, they are typically only used for indoor projects. If used outdoors it can cause them to rust since they would be exposed to the elements.

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What is a Drywall Screw?

A drywall screw are the standard screw used to secure sheets of drywall. Many people will also use drywall screws for other projects because they are inexpensive and the heads on these screws are flat, meaning they will keep from sinking into the wood. This means there is less of a chance of splitting the wood. You need to be careful using a drywall screw for non drywall projects because they are very brittle and can snap easily.

What Causes Rust?

Rust is a natural process where the iron in metals comes into contact with oxygen and water. This then causes it to corrode and deteriorate. Since oxygen and iron have opposite charges they are attracted to each other. So when they combine it causes oxidation and the reaction then creates rust.

Rusting causes issues because it looks gross and makes the metals become weak by causing decaying. This causes major problems because you expect metal to be a strong and durable metal but if rust is occurring that once strong object could become weak and nimble and cause serious problems with the functionality.

What To Do If Your Screw Rusts

If you have a screw that is deeply rusted it is important to fix this asap. If left you never know when it will snap and whatever it was holding up could crash and fall. The first thing we want to do is remove the rusted nail.

Steps to remove a rusted screw:

  1. Apply a product such as WD-40 that will help dissolve the corrosion on and around the screw. Things such as hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, or cola can also be used.
  2. Gently tap the head of the screw with a hammer. This will cause vibrations which will allow the solution to work its way through the threads of the screw.
  3. Try to unscrew to remove the screw. If it’s still stuck then try again.
  4. Clean the area where the screw was.
  5. Replace with a new screw.

Always keep an eye out for rusted screws in the home. It is vital to always replace them if they are found. We do not want to wait until it is too far gone.

The Make of a Drywall Screw

Drywall screws are inexpensive and can be bought in huge tubs because for any drywall project you are going to need a plethora of screws to get the job done. So what makes a drywall screw different than other types of screws?


The drywall screw is a threaded screw from the head to the bottom. It is coated in zinc or phosphate. The phosphate coating, which gives it its black color, is what makes it more rust resistant. This doesn’t mean its rust proof though and is still not recommended for using on any outdoor projects.

Sizes Drywall Screws

Drywall screws come in many different sizes. They can range from 1-8 inches long because building materials range in thickness. Materials would range from metal sheets to wood beams.

Today’s typical home will consist of 1/2 inch thick drywall, but the thickness can range from home to home. It is important to know the thickness of the drywall so you can choose the right size of drywall screw to get the job done.

  • 1/4 inch drywall: Use 1 inch to 1 1/4 inch drywall screws
  • 1/2 inch drywall: Use 1 1/4 inch or 1 5/8 inch drywall screws
  • 5/8 inch drywall: Use 1 5/8 inch or 2 inch drywall screws

Thread Types: Coarse or Fine

Drywall screws can have one of two thread types. Each are used for a very specific reason and need to be considered before buying the right one. It is important to know what your studs are made of before picking the right thread type for your drywall screws.

  1. Coarse: Used for drywall and wood projects. Have wide threads in order to grip to the wood and pull the drywall against the studs as close as possible.
  2. Fine: Used for installing drywall into metal studs. These drywall screws work great with metal because they are self threading.

Now we know if your studs are made of wood, use coarse, if made of metal, lets go with the fine thread.

Drywall Screws vs. Wood Screws

Obviously the number one use for drywall screws is to be used for putting up sheets of drywall in the home. They can either be attached by screwing into wood or metal studs.

Some DIYers use drywall screws for building projects, which I would not recommend. Drywall screws are brittle and do not bend easily, which means at any moment they could snap, especially if used in hardwood. If they snap then it leaves the shaft in the wood with the head gone… pretty hard to remove a screw with no head. Drywall screws are hardened so Phillips slots wont strip out under high stress from power tools. Wood screws are thicker and made of a softer metal making them more snap resistant. Lets make sure we use wood screws over drywall screws when we are doing any wood working.

Wood and drywall screws also have different thread patterns. Wood screws are smooth right under the head and not threaded. This part ensures the top part of the screw slides in the wood makes it easier for the lower part of the screws threads to clamp on the wood.

Drywall screws are threaded all the way to the head. Which means when two pieces are attached together sometimes it could keep them apart unless the two pieces are clamped together in the beginning.

Final Thoughts

Dry wall screws are made for a very specific job. To hang up sheets of drywall. This means if used for this specific job you probably do not have to worry about them rusting. However, if you choose to use this screw for it not intended purpose or outside, it is highly likely the phosphate covering will deteriorate over time and the drywall screws will indeed rust.

Related Questions

What type of screws are rust resistant? Any stainless steel screw are the most rust resistant.

Will zinc screws rust? Zinc screws will rust. They are corrosion resistant but will rust if the coating deteriorates or exposed to a wet environment.

Can I use drywall screw outdoors? You should not use drywall screws outdoors. The elements of the outdoors will deteriorate the phosphate coating and cause the screw to rust quickly.

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