How to Do Drywall Installation

Whether you call it wallboard, plasterboard, or Sheetrock (or just “rock”), these paper-wrapped gypsum panels revolutionized how walls and ceilings are covered. To avoid costly mistakes, be careful when hanging drywall.


Cover outside corners with metal corner beads cut to length using utility snips, and nail them in place with nails spaced every nine inches. Drag a putty knife gently over each screw or nail to make sure it is set well, as not doing so can cause popped nails later. Contact Drywall Installation Naperville for professional help.

If you’re doing a remodel or new construction, measure the space for the walls and ceilings to be covered with drywall. Multiply the length and height of each wall or surface area to find out the square footage, then divide that number by the size of a drywall sheet to determine how many sheets you’ll need. It’s helpful to have a calculator on hand for drywall calculations, and it’s important to round partial measurements up to the next whole number to avoid mistakes.

After measuring the walls and determining how much drywall is needed, mark the lines you’ll be cutting with a pencil or utility knife on the back side of the drywall. Make sure the line is straight by holding a combination square against the wall or ceiling.

Then score the lines with a utility knife, taking care not to cut through the paper on the other side of the drywall. It’s best to score the drywall lightly, rather than hard enough that it cuts through the paper and makes a hole in the wall behind it. If you’re doing a large project, it may be more efficient to use a drywall saw with a guide plate instead of scoring the drywall with a utility knife.

When you’re ready to hang the drywall, take care to smooth out all the seams with a wide drywall blade and lightweight joint compound. The mud should have a peanut butter-like texture with no lumps. Then drag a putty knife over all the screw heads and nail dimples. It’s a common installation mistake to skip this step, and it can lead to more work for your taper later on in the process or a hole that needs patching.

When you’re done with the joints, allow them to dry according to the time suggested on the joint compound container. Then you can paint them if desired or install trim, doors, and other features to finish off the project. If you’ve gotten your measurements right, your drywall will look great and be a good investment for your home.

Cut the Drywall

Getting comfortable with the basic tools and simple techniques for cutting drywall will make your project much easier. It will also give you the confidence to take on projects like drywall installation that would otherwise have to be done by professionals with an established reputation and schedule.

Always shut off the electricity before making any cuts in a wall, and be careful not to cut into any lines running through walls. Look at plans or inspect the room to see if there are any existing plumbing or electrical runs, then only cut where necessary. It’s especially important to avoid drilling into studs where there may be water or gas pipes, as well as electric boxes.

When you’re ready to cut a drywall sheet, it’s best to do so while the sheets are lying flat on the floor rather than standing up on their edge (Photos 10 and 11). This will make it easier for you to use straightedges and chalk lines. It will also be easier to cut the drywall around door or window openings, which must usually be made while the frames of the openings are in place.

For lengthwise cuts, mark the drywall with a pencil where you need to cut it. It’s a good idea to mark about 1/8 inch shorter than the actual measurement. This will leave a little wiggle room, which you can fill in with drywall mud later. Using a drywall square pressed alongside the sheet’s factory edge, draw a line to connect the marks for the straight cut you need.

Whenever possible, stagger the seams between drywall sheets or the seams that meet wall openings. This will help reduce the number of cuts, which can result in weakened drywall. It will also make it easier for you to tape the seams because they won’t be overlapping so closely.

Before you install a joint, it’s a good idea to run a putty knife over the entire surface to score and roughen the paper. This will allow the joint compound to adhere better, and prevent the drywall from flaking off later. Be sure to drive all screws below the surface of the drywall. This will prevent them from popping out of the joint, which can lead to cracking and moisture damage.

Hang the Drywall

The drywall installation process can be quite a workout, especially for those who have to handle large sheets of drywall on their own. If you’re planning to do a major drywall job, consider renting a drywall lift or getting a friend to help you. This will save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. If you’re going to be hanging the ceilings on your own, it’s also a good idea to mark each panel with points of reference to make them easier to manage. For instance, you might want to label the panels with the names of rooms (“living room side” for example) or points on the ceiling (attic vent, electrical fixture, etc).

When you’re ready to begin hanging drywall, carefully read over the instructions. You should also make a quick inspection of the framing, noting any twisted nails or nailed-in screws that might interfere with the drywall. It’s also a good idea to inspect for buried wires and pipes, marking them so that you don’t accidentally hammer or screw into them when you’re finishing the drywall.

You should hang the drywall so that the long edges are perpendicular to the studs or joists, and you should stagger the joints whenever possible. This will add strength to the wall and reduce the chance of cracks.

Always start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up to the top. This will minimize the amount of mud and tape you’ll have to apply at the top. Be sure to leave a gap at the bottom of each drywall panel to allow for expansion and contraction.

If you’re installing a ceiling, keep in mind that the drywall panels should be spaced no closer than 16″ apart. This will prevent the panels from buckling or warping, as well as help to conceal the ceiling-fixture fasteners.

When you get to the outer corners of a drywall sheet, place a metal corner bead over the edge of the panel. This will protect the drywall and prevent it from being scratched when you’re handling it. The bead should be nailed in place using 1 1/2-inch drywall nails, hammered every 10 inches.

Finish the Drywall

Whether you’re converting a room from bare-bones to livable space or you just need to add a little more elbowroom, learning how to install drywall can help you save money on a professional installation. Using a few basic tools and some drywall finishing techniques, you can create walls that look like they were professionally installed for much less.

Before you begin drywall finishing, make sure that all of the screws and nails are set flush with the framing. Check for protruding fasteners by dragging a drywall taping knife over the surface of the drywall. If you find any that are poking above the drywall surface, drive them in until they sit slightly below the paper face. This will prevent you from hitting these fasteners with your hammer while taping and may save you the expense of having to replace a screw or nail down the line.

While you’re installing drywall, mark the location of electrical and plumbing lines so that you don’t accidentally drill or nail into them during the finishing process. Also, use a level or straight board to check that the studs and joists are in a reasonably straight plane. If you find that they aren’t, use a drywall saw to trim them down or fill in low spots with shims.

Once you’ve installed the drywall, it’s time to start working on the finishing. You’ll need a few supplies, including:

A 3-pound bag of quick-setting joint compound, which is necessary for creating the skim coat during the mud process. You’ll also need a mud tray and a 5-gallon bucket, which will come in handy for mixing the skim coat. 120-grit sandpaper – You’ll need this to finish sanding tight areas and angle joints. Marking chalk – This will help you to identify touch-up areas that need spot sanding.

Begin by scooping a small amount of mud into the mud tray. Ensure that it’s thoroughly mixed. Next, load a 6-inch knife with mud and apply it to the seams between the drywall panels. Apply a thin coat, and then let it dry before moving on to the corners. When the first coat is completely dry, apply a second and a third, adding a wider coat each time.

Amanda Head