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9 tips for installing drywall like a professional

You've gathered your tools, and checked the walls and ceiling for obvious distortions. You are ready to install drywall on the walls and ceiling. Follow these detailed tips for hanging drywall.

9 tips for hanging the drywall

  1. Start at the top. Install the ceiling sheets first. Starting in the corner with a full sheet of drywall, run the length perpendicular to the joists. The end of the sheet should cover half of the joist, leaving room for the next sheet to be attached. Dry-fit a piece first, then apply a thin bead of construction adhesive to the joists before putting the sheet back into position.
  2. Muscle time. Some people can handle an 8-footer on the ceiling with the help of a couple of T-braces. However, renting a drywall jack is highly recommended--it will crank the sheet into position, making it relatively easy to screw it into place. See steps 7 and 8 for cutouts.
  3. Screw the ceiling. Drywall screws are best (1 1/2" for ceiling). Space them every 7 inches on the edges and every foot in the field. Fasteners should be three-eighths to one-half inch from the edge of the drywall. Use a power driver or drill and a specialty bit for drywall screws that sets them to the proper depth. The screw should just dimple the paper without ripping it.
  4. Nails? If you are nailing the drywall, space the nails every 7 inches in the field. Again, just dimple the paper, don't rip it with the hammer or nail. You can buy drywall hammers that leave a rounded dimple.
  5. Joints. Alternate your joints by 4 feet. If you started your first row with an 8-footer, start the second row with a 4-footer.
  6. Walls next. After the ceiling is up, start on the walls, working from the top down. Shove a sheet of drywall up tight against the ceiling. You can wedge it with a T-brace to hold it in position while you screw it in, or utilize your helper. Wall drywall can be a half-inch thick. It should be screwed every 16 inches or nailed every 8 inches (1 1/4" screws or nails are okay). The lower row of drywall should be a half-inch or so above your subfloor. Use a pry bar and strip of lathe to lift the sheet snug against the upper row.
  7. Cutouts, Method A: While the board is on the floor, measure and cut holes for light fixtures, switches and other obstructions using a drywall saw. This is an inexact method and causes angst.
  8. Cutouts, Method B: This method, the choice of the pros, uses a Rotozip tool with a drywall-cutting bit. Install your sheet on the wall over the electrical box, but don't screw within a couple of feet of the box. Plunge the Rotozip bit into the center of the box, move it to the edge, lift it carefully over the edge of the box so that the bit is touching the outside of the fixture, then zip around the outside of the fixture to cut out the hole. Zip! A perfect cut. Do be careful, however, that electrical wires are pushed deep into the box so that the bit doesn't cut them.
  9. Finish. After the cutout has been made, finish screwing the drywall.

Once your drywall is in place, you can tape and mud.