What Screws Should Pros Use for Concrete Board?

A PAMFast Cement Board Screw is displayed over a white background. There is a 6-point drive in the flat nail head and 11 grooves down the thread of the tan screw.


Help­ing to cre­ate a strong bar­ri­er, con­crete board — also known as cement board — is com­mon­ly used to cov­er walls, ceil­ings and floors with com­ple­men­tary mate­ri­als installed, often tile or poured cement. In order for the bar­ri­er to be strong, you need strong fas­ten­ers — that’s where the right screw solu­tion can make a dif­fer­ence in your project.

So, what type of screws do you use for cement boards? We’ll go into all the details for you: what kind of screws for con­crete board use, their pros and cons, and any best prac­tices to keep in mind.

What Screws to Use With Cement Board

To best attach cement boards to your project fix­tures, you should use screws designed specif­i­cal­ly for con­crete board instal­la­tion. When you buy cement board, the man­u­fac­tur­er may pro­vide these screws with your purchase. 

If not, look for screws that are fin­ished with a spe­cial coat­ing that resists cor­ro­sion. Cor­ro­sion resis­tance is key because the cement in cement boards has alka­li lev­els that will cor­rode reg­u­lar nails. 

Screws made specif­i­cal­ly for cement boards will also fea­ture small grooves direct­ly under the screw head. This allows the screw to dig into the cement board for a stur­dier hold. These screws have extra-sharp points paired with the deep, wide threads to help them sit flush against the board. 

If you can’t access cement board screws, you do have a few oth­er options. If you grav­i­tate towards nails, uti­lize gal­va­nized or hot-dipped nails only. These nails are often used in out­door deck­ing and roof­ing instal­la­tions, so they have a sim­i­lar cor­ro­sion-resis­tant coat­ing that helps resist rust or fad­ing from water expo­sure. In this spe­cif­ic case, they can also resist cor­ro­sion from the alka­li state of cement boards. 

Any oth­er screw-type out­side of gal­va­nized nails and cement board screws will stop where the shaft widens and leave the head stick­ing up, which results in a weak­er fin­ish and inter­feres with the floor­ing, tile work or oth­er mate­ri­als used in your project.

Screws & Cement Boards: Best Practices

Screws & Cement Boards: Best Practices


To smooth­ly install con­crete boards, you should install a fas­ten­er approx­i­mate­ly every 6 to 8 inch­es along the perime­ter of the boards. When it comes to the size of the screw to use, it will vary based on the project and the fix­ture to which you’re try­ing to attach the cement board. 

  • If you’re attach­ing a cement board to ply­wood (or sim­i­lar under­lay­ment), it will hold togeth­er with 1 ¼‑inch con­crete board screws. 

  • For thick or heavy met­al fix­tures, you’ll need 1 ⅝‑inch con­crete board screws.

  • If you’re using gal­va­nized nails, a gen­er­al 1 ½‑inch gal­va­nized nail should hold the con­crete board firm­ly in place.

  • Make sure the screw head is slight­ly indent­ed into the cement board. You ide­al­ly want it flush with the sur­face. Too deep will weak­en the hold and too high can inter­fere with thin tile installations.

  • For floor­ing or wall instal­la­tion projects, you may want to apply a thin lay­er of thin-set mor­tar (a blend of cement, very fine­ly grad­ed sand, and a water reten­tion com­pound) under the cement board to pre­vent shift­ing or expan­sion. This is a trick many builders uti­lize for a strong­hold. But, with this extra adhe­sive, you should still apply the nails or screws of your choice.

Even though cement boards can look and feel like dry­wall, remem­ber that the inte­ri­or of each mate­r­i­al is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. We do not rec­om­mend using dry­wall screws in any cement board work. The fas­ten­ers used for dry­wall do not have cor­ro­sion and alka­li resis­tance coating. 

There­fore, if you want your cement board project to last a long time, skip the dry­wall fas­ten­ers. Cement board screws will tear up dry­wall, and dry­wall screws will dete­ri­o­rate over time if used in cement boards.

How FastenMaster Can Help

FastenMaster’s PAMFast Cement Board Screws are displayed over a white background. The screws are laid out in a curved line in front of the PamFast screw box in red.


FastenMaster’s PAM­Fast Cement Board screws are a great option for cement board, as they are designed for attach­ing USG Durock® and Hardiebacker® tile to wood on any site. The thread design and mod­i­fied wafer head on the PAM­Fast Cement Board screws deliv­er a con­sis­tent coun­ter­sink and hold­ing power.

The screws come with the PAM­Drive Recess, elim­i­nat­ing bit grind­ing and cam-outs. What­ev­er your project needs are (ply­wood, heavy met­al fix­tures, etc.), the PAM­Fast Cement Board screws come in 1 ¼” and 1 ⅝” sizes. 

Paired with Frame­FAST, you can change the way you frame with one screw, one tool and three inter­change­able heads that give you accu­rate instal­la­tion angle, pre­cise off­set and opti­mized thread engage­ment every time. With Frame­Fast, you can install five times faster than tra­di­tion­al con­nec­tors and dri­ve job site productivity.

If you want to use gal­va­nized screws instead, we rec­om­mend the Fas­ten­Mas­ter Thru­LOK Through-Bolt Replace­ment. The Thru­LOK sys­tem com­bines the strength of a through-bolt­ed con­nec­tion with the speed of a LOK fas­ten­er with no predrilling required. On top of cement board, it can also be used for mul­ti-ply beam appli­ca­tions, decks posts, car­ry­ing beams and more.

Thru­LOKs replace tra­di­tion­al­ly car­riage and through-bolts in appli­ca­tions rang­ing from 4 ½” to 9 ½”. It has a three-part assem­bly that includes a screw, a patent-pend­ing Pad­dle Point™, an engi­neered wash­er and a LOK nut. It installs with an 18-volt cord­less drill with no drill bits or wrench­es required. And because of its gal­va­nized coat­ing, it meets the IRC ACQ cor­ro­sion require­ment and makes itself suit­able for cement boards for a life­time per­for­mance guarantee.

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about Fas­ten­Mas­ter and how we can help you with your cement board project? Check out our wide range of cement board prod­ucts.

Are you a con­trac­tor look­ing to grow in your career? Become a PROStar mem­ber, a pro­gram open for pro­fes­sion­al con­trac­tors. Join today and become a part of an exclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of mar­ket-lead­ing pro­fes­sion­al con­trac­tors who val­ue con­nec­tion strength, inno­va­tion and code-com­pli­ance in build­ing practices.