What Screws Should Pros Use for Concrete Board?

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.

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.


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.