How to drywall your house

How to drywall your house

Hanging drywall is a quick way to give a tired room a facelift, or to transform a bare construction project into a real home. Whether you're patching up a few walls in a fixer-upper or building a new home, you'll repeat the same basic steps.

If you have limited construction experience, consider hiring an Atlanta drywall contractor to hang new or repair flaws in your existing drywall. A professional has the experience to get the job done right the first time and knows how to safely operate the tools needed. Angie's List helped members find qualified Atlanta drywall contractors more than 520 times during 2010, so join today to see who your neighbors recommend.

Hanging drywall is typically a two-person job to wrestle and lift the sheets into position. There may be challenges, such as fitting drywall around recessed lights, and you may not own the necessary equipment. If you have home construction experience and want to attempt the project yourself, it’s best to have a partner assist you to reduce risks of injury or accidents.

Before hanging the first piece, you’ll need to start by gathering the tools and materials needed to hang drywall:

• Safety glasses
• Dust mask
• Measuring tape
• Screws and drill with the appropriate size drill bit
• T-square, for guiding utility-knife cuts
• Colored check or pencil
• Metal-cutting snips
• Utility razor knife
• Drywall saw
• Rotary cut-out tool
• Enough drywall to sufficiently cover the area you wish to be enclosed
• 1 ½ inch drywall nails
• 1 ¼ inch coarse-thread drywall screws
• Corner bead for finishing outside corners

Once you have the materials and tools needed to hang drywall:

1. Chalk the area. Mark the ceiling and floor indicating the placement of the vertical studs. These will guide where you drive screws and fasten the drywall to the studs.

2. Decide how you want the drywall to hang. Are you hanging horizontally or vertically? Some consider vertical installation easier when working alone. However, drywall contractors typically perform a horizontal installation.

3. Start at the ceiling. Using full sheets, cut so the edge is centered on a joist, and then screw around the edges. Keep the screw about 3/8 of an inch from the edge so the drywall doesn’t break.

4. With the walls, start with the corner first. Position the piece against the ceiling and firmly against the stud corner. Remember to start and end on a stud to avoid overhang.

5. Drive screws into the middle and ends of your drywall section. Dimple the drywall but be careful to not break the paper surface. A dimple drill bit will help accomplish this task, but it’s an optional tool.

6. With the first section in place, measure from the end of the sheet to the end of the wall. Cut accordingly.

7. If cutting, mark with a pencil and drywall square. Firmly score your penciled line with a razor knife. Next, bend the drywall along the scored line. Your drywall should break cleanly in two except the paper which you'll need to cut with your knife.

8. Install this measured section and repeat throughout the room. Drive enough screws into your drywall sections to hold them in place. You can return to these at the end of the hanging process and insert the rest of the fasteners.

9. As you go, measure and cut holes for any switches or outlets before you attach drywall to the studs. It’s okay to hang drywall over windows and doors. Cut openings out with a rotary saw after the sheet is firmly attached.

10. Next, place the bottom row. You'll likely have a gap at the bottom of the wall, but it will be covered by your baseboard trim. Stagger seams on the drywall so they don't line up with the top seams.

11. Finish by driving five or six evenly spaced screws through the drywall and into stud supports. Space your screws about 7 to 9 inches apart and 4 to 5 inches around windows and doors.

12. Install your corner beads. Measure the outside corner length, snip the corner bead to the correct length, fit the bead over the drywall edge, and position until you've got a professional-looking 90-degree angle on the corner. Put screws into the corner bead then repeat.

13. Spread joint compound over the seams, then center drywall tape over the joint. Apply a second coat 24 hours later extending out a few inches to the sides of the first coat then a third coat, again extending the area by six inches. When dry, carefully sand with medium-grit sandpaper. Depending on the joint compound you use, you may need to allow your walls to dry for five days. When dry, sand with fine-grit sandpaper. New drywall should receive at least three coats: a sealer, primer and finish coat.

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It's not always easy to spot studs in your drywall. (Photo courtesy of
It's not always easy to spot studs in your drywall. (Photo courtesy of

We’ve all been there, right? “Oh, I just need to find a stud to hang this picture” and fifteen holes later you’re convinced the wall is held up by pixie dust and a wish, because apparently there’s no wood behind it.

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