Hanging Drywall

You got the room gutted down to the bare studs and your ready to start hanging board.  This is a step by step guide to hanging and finishing drywall.

List of the tools your gonna need

  • Tape measure
  • carpenters pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Jab saw
  • T-Squareb
  • Drill with drywall drill bit or drywall screwgun
  • Jigsaw or Rotozip (optional)

Step 1 Create a Material List

First of all, you’ll have to create a shopping list to take to the hardware store.  Start by getting the square footage of each wall and add them all together for the total square foot.  If your putting drywall on the ceiling add that in as well.

Drywall comes in different sizes.  The size most commonly used is 4×8 ft sheets that are 1/2″ thick.  But if you have a larger room and somebody to help u lift them you may want to get longer sheets in order to avoid having more seams to tape.  Also there are different thicknesses.  1/4″  Thick drywall is cheaper and lightweight. 5/8″ is thickest, heaviest, and most expensive but it doesn’t break easy and provides added insulation and sound barrier.  There is also moisture resistant drywall sheets for bathrooms and kitchens.  These sheets are usually purple or green on the face.

Pick the type and size of material that would be best for your project and using your total square footage, you can calculate how many sheets to get.  Convert the size of the sheets into square foot per sheet by multiplying length times width.  For example, if you were to use 4×8 sheets is 32 square feet.  Then take your total room square footage and divide it by the sheets square footage (EX: 32 square ft.) in order to get the number of sheets you will need.

Once you know how many sheets of drywall to get, then you can get the screws to fasten them.  You don’t need to be too picky on your screw selection.  Just make sure they’re course thread drywall screws and as a rule of thumb get screws that are 3/4 inch thicker than the drywall thickness.  For example, if you use 1/2″ drywall then use 1-1/4″ screws.

Step 2 Prep the Walls

This is a very important step to hanging drywall.  Especially if you are remodeling an old house because more often than not you when you go to hang the board you will notice that things are out of wack.  If you want the hanging process to go a lot smoother, I recommend taking a good look at the walls or ceilings to see if everything is right.

Check these things before moving onto the next step.  Are the walls square, plumb, and level?  And are the studs spaced equally?  Put a 4 Ft. level or 2×4 on the wall to see if the studs are even all the way across.  If not then you might need to shim.  Look for nails, staples, or anything else that could be protruding from the walls before you start to hang.

Step 3 Hang the Board

Alright, your ready to hang your first sheet.  If you are hanging drywall on the ceiling, its best to do it first.  Start by determining where to start and come up with a plan and think ahead about any obstructions you will have to cut around like lights, receptacle boxes, and vents.

Cutting around obstacles is the trickiest part but there are many strategies you can use to make it easier. If there is only going to be one electric box for a light in the center of the room, I like to start there and work my way out.

If you are hanging drywall on the ceiling you will have to have 1 or 2 other people to help you hold it up or use 2×4 T-supports to hold it in place.  Drywall lifts make it a lot easier and make it possible to hang sheets by yourself.  These lifts can sometimes be rented at your local hardware store or buy one or around $200.

Now when your getting your measurements there are a couple things you should keep in mind.  First, your gonna want to cut your sheets 1/4″ shorter than your measurements in order to give yourself some wiggle room to get the sheets in place.  The old saying, “measure twice, cut once” is good to keep in mind.

Knowing Where to Screw

Some drywall sheets are manufactured with screw guides marked with x’s so that you know where the stud locations are but if not then you will have to mark them on your sheets.  Run lines down the full length of the sheet for every stud you will be screwing to.  So measure down every 16 inches and mark your lines at 16″ and 32″ so you know about where the studs are.  If it is an old house that doesn’t have good stud spacing you can also do this by placing marks on the ceiling and floor so u have an idea of where the studs are.

Second, measure where each corner of the sheet will go.  This will let you know if the walls are out of square how you can adjust your cuts to make the sheets fit.  Also remember to stagger the seams  and try to have the “butt joints” or vertical seams to be placed above or below the windows and doors.  You want to try to avoid having a lot of “butt joints” because they are the most difficult to cover up with tape and mud.

Line Up the Edges

Third, hang the sheets perpendicular to the studs or joists and make sure that the edges line up on the stud centers.  The main point to keep in mind should be to make sure that all edges have a stud or joist to screw to.  If there is nothing to screw to then you will have to add a “nailer” in order to have something to screw to and support the sheet.  get about 4 screws in each corner to hold the board up, then you can go back and finish screwing it on.

Place screws every 8 inches on the edges and every 16 inches in the middle seams.  The screws should be screwed just below the surface but not too much to where it cracks the board or goes through the paper.  The paper is what mostly holds the drywall in place with the screws.  Your local hardware store should have drywall drill bits that will help you screw to the right depth.

Cutting Around Obstacles

It is inevitable that you will run into obstructions that you will need to cut around.  There are many strategies that you can use to cut around them.  Using a Rotozip is the way the pros do it and is probably the easiest.  If you don’t have a Rotozip then there are ways to get a pretty accurate cut.

Probably the most popular way is to measure from the floor to the box and write down the measurements.  Then take a level and place it vertically against the box and mark a plumb line on the floor.  Now you can put your sheet on the wall over the box and put your level back on the plumb line and mark your board.  Then you can transfer your height measurements to the board and cut the box location out using a jab saw.

However, I have found often times you don’t get a perfect fit using this method and sometimes it is a bit off.  So what I do is pretty much use this method, but instead of marking the entire box, cutting it out, and hoping it fits.  I like to tack the board in place with a couple screws and just find the center of the box just like using a Rotozip.  Instead of using a Rotozip I use a jigsaw or a jabsaw and be very careful not to cut the wires in the box and create a small hole big enough to see where the edges of the box are.  Once you know where the edges are, just cut around the edges to make a very accurate tight fit.


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