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Back to Basics: Hanging Drywall

By Our Home from Scratch on Mar 27, 2014

In the past week or so, we started hanging drywall in our home office. It’s not a terribly quick process and it’s been consuming a few hours a night. Consequently, our post frequency has been low lately. Whenever we’re knee deep in home improvement projects, that sort of thing is going to happen. Today, I want to share with you some general DIY advice for hanging drywall or sheetrock (if you call it that too). This weekend we’re going to be applying the first coats of joint compound and my goal is to put together a video tutorial for that process.

In other news, in last week’s newsletter, I asked our readers to tell me what set of woodworking plans they’d like to see next. The response was unanimous. Everyone wants the router table plans. Look for those next week.


Tips for Hanging Drywall

1. Proper Framing. The most important part of a quality drywall job, in my opinion. The drywall gets secured to the framing lumber on the wall. If that framing is incomplete, poorly done or didn’t take the drywall into account, then the drywall is not going to be done well either. Everywhere you have a seam in the drywall, which is everywhere one piece meets another, there should be a 2x piece behind it. When we designed our coffered ceiling, I intentionally took the drywall into consideration and it wasn’t an afterthought. This may mean adding more boards than is required by framing code.

2. Use the Right Drywall Thickness. Drywall sheets come in 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ thick. 5/8″ thick is typically used for ceilings and is required for fire protection in certain spaces. Our garage, for example, should have 5/8″ thick drywall throughout, but most of our interior walls probably just use the 1/2″. The thinnest drywall, the 1/4″ sheets are mainly used on curved walls since it’s not as rigid as the thicker material. The 3/8″ sheets can also be used in place of the 1/2″ sheets in some situations. You’ll want to double check with the builder’s code before you tackle a larger job to verify what thickness you should use. Since we’re covering over coffered ceiling framing that actually sits beneath a finished ceiling, we’re just using 1/2″ thick drywall.

3. Drywall Screws. Use the right drywall screw length. I mainly use the 1-1/4″ long coarse drywall screws, which don’t go all the way through a 1-1/2″ thick 2×4. Anything longer than that and I’d need to be aware of what’s on the other side of the 2×4, since the screw can go through the board and make contact with anything on the other side. Also, make sure to protect any electrical work with the appropriate cover plates so you don’t accidentally drive a screw through a wire. That would be bad.

drywall drill bit

dimpled drywall

4. Drywall Driver. This is my biggest pet peeve with drywall installation. There is a special bit that you can buy for your drill that is specifically designed for installing screws into drywall. It dimples the drywall board and sets the depth of the screw to just the right amount. I pull the hair out of my head when I see people on TV (typically, Renovation Realities, go figure) using a regular Phillips head bit. These drywall bits are majorly inexpensive. I got 4 for $5 at Home Depot. Don’t work without them.

chalk line

5. Use Chalk Lines. My chalk line tool is easily becoming my favorite tool on this office project. So let’s say I need a 5″ wide piece of drywall at some length. I measure down 5″ from the edge of each side and then snap a chalk line down the entire length of the sheet from one end to the other so the 5″ mark is visible. Then I just trace the line with my box cutter and I know I have a nice accurate piece.


6. Use a Rasp. The best way to get clean pieces of cut drywall is to use a hand held tool called a rasp. The rasp is basically a cheese grater that you use to clean up the cut edge of a freshly cut piece of drywall. It removes any high spots, smoothes out the cut and must be done before you throw the drywall sheet onto the wall. It will help keep your drywall seams much tighter.

drywall floor protection

7. Protect your Floors. When you cut and rasp drywall, it gets all over everything in the space. I protected our new hardwood office floor with some rosin paper I had left over from the floor install. I prefer this over plastic as it doesn’t move around and is much more durable. You can also use general construction paper since it’s cheaper. Don’t skip this step though unless you’re working right over the subfloor.

So that’s all I got for hanging drywall. I still need to add my corner beads all over this ceiling and I’ll be starting my mudding process this weekend. Good times.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Have you every hanged drywall before? What is the hardest part for you?

The post Tips for Hanging Drywall appeared first on Our Home from Scratch.

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