How to Install Drywall
Would your room look better if there was a dividing wall? How about that dream of finishing the ever-unfinished basement? Or what if you could fix that giant hole the plumbers cut out to fix a pipe in your kitchen ceiling? Two determined homeowners (or a homeowner and a very helpful friend) can learn how to install drywall with ease. The project just requires some heavy lifting, patience, and a bit of practice.
Know Your Drywalls
When it comes to learning how to install drywall, you need to learn about the popular types of drywall and consider which one is best for the room you’re installing it in:
- 5/8-inch drywall: a thicker style that is perfect for areas of your home exposed to potential abuse (like when the kids are carelessly kicking a soccer ball indoors).
- 1/4-inch drywall: different size for a different need. The need for this drywall is to cover a curved wall or a ceiling, making those tricky areas less tricky with this easier-to-use style.
- Greenboard drywall: you might pause before installing drywall in the bathroom, basement, or areas of your home that you know will get steamy, moist, or humid. For these places, there’s greenboard drywall. It’s ideal for humid locations because of its inner core of gypsum, which resists the growth of mold.
- Type X: an intriguing name for a style of drywall that resists fire. It’s great for furnace rooms.
- Blueboard: this isn’t technically drywall, but you should know about it if you’re planning on applying a veneer plaster coating. Blueboard is designed to bond with veneer, a popular style in some regions.
A few honorable mentions include paperless drywall, a style that utilizes fiberglass to resist mold and mildew and has been replacing paper drywall. There’s also purple drywall, another mold and mildew resistant type, and soundproof drywall for those loud musicians in need of a spot to make some noise.
The average cost is about $1.60 to $2.35 per square foot. For an average size room (12-feet by 12-feet by 8-feet), it would be about $815 for just the walls and around $900 if you include ceilings.
Keep in mind that the bigger the panel, the heavier it will be, but the fewer seams and quicker the installation. With drywall, you pay the price in the awkwardness of its weight.
Out With the Old: Removing Old Drywall
Removing old drywall is a dusty job. You’ll need to cover the area with tarps and protective plastic. Prep the room by shutting off the utilities. There are just a few tools that you will be using to get the job done:
- Pry and wrecking bars
- Protective gear; respirator mask, gloves, and eye protection
- Shop vacuum
- Utility knives
- Claw hammer
- Oscillating or reciprocating saw with a circular blade
Here’s what you will do to remove drywall:
- If the wall has molding, remove it with a utility knife and pry bar.
- Measure and mark the section of drywall you wish to remove and proceed to cut with your saw (only cutting deep enough to go through the drywall and the paneling).
- Use a pry bar to help remove it.
- For corners, use a utility knife to help cut through the joint compound. Use your claw hammer to knock a few holes near the stud bays. For drywall along the floor, use your pry bar to loosen it up.
- It’s grab-and-go time — use your hands or pry bar to pull out the drywall in chunks. Once you get started, it’ll be an easier task.
- Cleanup is probably the most tedious of drywall removal, but a shop vacuum can help make it go by more efficiently.
In With the New: Installing New Drywall
You’ll need to estimate how much drywall you’ll need for your project. You can get an idea by estimating how many 4-by-8-foot sheets you’ll need. Calculate the total square footage of your walls and ceilings, then divide by 32. We recommend tacking on one or two extra in case of mistakes. You can also use a drywall calculator online.
What you need:
- Measuring tools (T-square and tape)
- Drywall saw
- Utility knives
- Rotary tool
- Circle cutter
- Protective gear
- Drywall and drywall taping tools
Step One: Cut and Measure
- Use a tape measure to determine the width of the wall. Cut your drywall sheet a quarter-inch shorter than this measurement.
- Get a buddy to help you stabilize the drywall in its position. It should be flush and tight against the ceiling.
Step Two: Securing
- Use your drywall screws to secure the sheet in place, driving the screws into the middle of the section.
- Work your way from the center to the outer edges of the drywall, making the screws about 16 inches apart (and on all of the studs).
Step Three: Obstacles
- For future windows, cover the window with the panel entirely and drive a few screws into the corners to indicate the window placement.
- Use a drywall router or handsaw to mark the center of the window, cutting upward and downward toward the edges.
- For windows already in place, remove the trim and cut the window’s opening before you hang the sheet.
- For doors, follow the same process as you would an in-place window. Remove the trim, measure and mark your panel, mark the stud’s location, and begin cutting with a router or saw.
- Wall fixtures and outlets require a spiral saw. Mark the location of the outlet box or fixture and remove the wires. Screw your drywall panel in place and use the spiral saw to cut an outline.
Tips and Tricks on How to Install Drywall:
- Hang drywall horizontally so you don’t have to tape as much and to get the drywall seam at a more manageable height.
- Drywall can be heavy and if the weight poses a problem, use a drywall lift.
- You should have a small gap between the floor and the drywall, which will be covered by the baseboard later.
When to Call the Pros
Now you know how to install drywall, but you might be skeptical. For beginners, it can be a bit much and take more time than it would a professional. With patience, practice, and planning, it’s an afternoon project at best. However, it’s messy, it can be frustrating, and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Call the professionals if you’ve got a lot of drywalling you need doing and don’t have a dedicated helper or no experience. Sometimes, it's worth it to have a pro do the job, making what could be a weekend ordeal into a painless project.