Can a Nail in Drywall Hold? Everything You Need To Know!

Even though Drywall is considered quite durable, would it be able to hold weight on a nail like it would with wood or plaster? If you’re planning on hanging heavier items on your Drywall with a nail, here is what you need to know. 

A nail in your Drywall can hold up to 20 pounds, but it’s best not to exceed 15. If you wish to increase the weight capacity, you should probably use Drywall anchors instead, which can hold up to 1090lbs. Drywall can hold between 130 – 390 lbs regardless of the type of fastener you use.

Even though we usually hang very basic items on our walls, we sometimes hang heavier items, such as mirrors or mini shelves. But this doesn’t mean that your wall can handle it. In fact, there is a limit that we probably should never exceed, and it’s much less than you think. 

Will A Nail Hold In Drywall?

Yes, a nail in Drywall will hold most general items. Drywall nails are designed to drive into drywalls effectively from any angle and provide ample support and leverage for shelves or any fixture. With a good drywall nail in place, you can hang almost anything, but once you start hanging heavier items, there is a chance your Drywall will get damaged and whatever you tried hanging. 

How Much Weight Can A Nail Hold In Drywall?

Some home remodelers argue that weight above 10 pounds should be discouraged because most drywalls have weight limitations. But the number is luckily a little higher. 

In general, a nail can hold a weight of up to 20 pounds in Drywall, but a safe bet is anything not more than 15 pounds. If you want to increase weight capacity, drywall anchors are your best bet, especially on wood. Bear in mind that the average Drywall can hold between 130 – 390 lbs regardless of the type of fastener you use, but to increase the capacity to 1090 lbs, you may need to attach screws to a stud. Just make sure to avoid moisture so they won’t rust. Drywall cannot always hold weight on its own, so always plan for very good fasteners like nails, even if you go for heavier Drywall.

Items  that a drywall nail can hold

  • Small mirror
  • Mini Shelves
  • Picture frames

Basically, anything under 20 pounds

Items that a drywall nail cannot hold

  • Television
  • Plant pots
  • Large shelves
  • Full body mirrors

Anything above 20 pounds

How To Install A Nail In Drywall?

You must be very careful if you want to install a nail in Drywall. I know what you’re probably thinking now…is this guy for real? Well, if you do it wrong, you will, without a doubt, damage the Drywall. The safest way to insert a nail is to use a nail gun, but if you don’t have one, you can use a hammer.

Hammering is cost-effective and relatively fast and is the method of choice for those who have a lot of Drywall to work on. Nails are also easier to drive through Drywall than screws.

Depending on the method of choice, you will need

  • Cordless drill/ hammer
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall square
  • Drywall lift
  • Planer (optional)
  • Level/long board (optional)

With these tools in place, follow these steps.

Step 1 – Mark the spot

Start by marking the spot where you want to install your item. Make sure the spot is obstruction-free on both sides, above and below. Use the size of the item as a guide when marking the spot with your pencil or marker.

Step 2 – Drill the hole.

The next step is to drill the hole using your driller or hammer. For this example, we will use a hammer. Place the nail on the masked spot and ensure the tip is inside the marked dot. Apply pressure to it by pushing the nail into the drywall wall. We recommend using a smaller nail than the main one for a much tighter hole.

Use your hammer to strike the tail so the sharp nail tip is driven into the wall. Be careful as you do this so you don’t injure yourself or ruin the Drywall. Apply consistent pressure with the hammer as you strike until the nail goes in. Since you are using a smaller nail, wiggle it a few times before pulling it out.

Step 3 – Insert the nail.

With the hole ready, insert the nail into the hole, then hammer it until it’s flushed with the Drywall. Once the nail is in place, hold it and apply slight pressure to see if it’s firm; should it appear loose, drive it in a little further.

Note: If you are using a corded or cordless drill, the process is the same without the need for hammering the same spot several times. However, you need to be very careful so you don’t bore a hole that is too big for the nails you plan to use. Big holes make for loose fittings, and your drywall nail will not hold. When drilling holes, be meticulous about it and use a smaller nail than the one intended for installation.

Please watch this video for a visual representation of how to install a nail in Drywall.

Extra Tips for installing nails in Drywall

When installing nails into Drywall, make sure you drive them below the drywall surface so they cover the joint compound to create smooth surfaces. Using a hammer with a curved surface is best to give the nail head a small dimple.

As for the nails, we recommend ring shank nails because their heads are broad and will hold the Drywall in place. Very Goode nails will penetrate the framing perfectly at a depth of ¾ inches at least.

But the above will only work if the Drywall is perfectly laid. Here are some tips to help you lay your Drywall properly.

Ensure even edges: When installing your Drywall, ensure that the edges of all the sheets are smooth and one doesn’t overlap the other side by side. Wrapped edges should be paired with each other, while butt ends should be paired with butt ends. Smooth edges ensure that as you apply pressure on one sheet with the nail and hammer, the sheet will not compress and form a depression on edge.

Hang sheets horizontally: Drywall sheets should be hung horizontally, not perpendicularly. This ensures that the long edges are on par with the nails, especially if you use studs, where your Drywall should always end up on. If you are hanging the sheets on the ceiling, ensure that it hangs at a 90-degree angle.

Joints should not cross: Finally, joints should not overlap in a cross; rather, they should be staggered for improved wall strength. If this is not feasible, use a drywall square to cut and attach fitting pieces.

The key to installing a nail into Drywall perfectly is by ensuring that the Drywall is installed properly in the first place. Poor drywall installation will lead to myriad problems, including potential drywall damage when installing nails or any other fastener.

How to increase the weight a nail can hold in Drywall.

Obviously, it’s more effective to drive a nail into a wall stud than into hollow Drywall. Wall studs offer more support, resulting in a larger weight that the nail can hold. If you would want to mount a TV, you simply cannot use nails. To find the wall studs, you can use a stud finder, a tool that uses magnetic technology to find screws in the Drywall that indicate a sturdier section of the wall. 

If you don’t have a stud finder, you can find the studs manually by horizontally tapping on the wall until it feels and sounds solid instead of hollow. A quick trick to find a stud in the wall even faster is to locate an electrical outlet and vertically move upward since electrical outlets are always placed on studs.

The nail can hold significantly more weight when hanging a nail on a stud instead of directly into the Drywall. Nails that are driven into studs are able to hold anywhere between 20 and 40 pounds depending on the angle of the nail and how far into the wall the nail is.


Will Finish Nails Hold In Drywall?

Yes, finished nails will hold in drywall, but ensure you drill them perfectly for sufficient depth. A quality drywall nail can hold up to 10 pounds of weight or a little more. Finish nails have limitations, so don’t exceed their weight capacity. To hang something heavier, consider inserting the nails into studs.

Can A Nail In Drywall Hold A Picture

Yes, a nail in Drywall can hold most pictures because most picture frames are less than 7 pounds. Wooden picture frames also weigh less than metal frames, but even a metal picture frame will not be a problem for drywall nails either.

Can You Put A Nail In A Drywall Anchor

Nails are not meant for drywall anchors. Drywall anchors are designed to play the role of nails for hanging heavier items that nails cannot handle. If you must attach a nail to any fastener, do so with studs instead.

Which Is Better Between Nail And Screw?

Nails and screws are good fasteners, but nails have more grip strength than screws. They are also easier to insert than screws, but they can ruin your Drywall if they are not inserted properly. Screws, on the other hand, have more tensile strength and can hold more weight. Good drywall screws can hold about 10 pounds more weight than a nail.

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