How to Install Drywall (Sheetrock)

Installing drywall, or what most people call Sheetrock or wallboard, is a pretty straightforward process.  If you’re physically able to lift whatever size drywall sheets you’ll be using (the most common size used is 1/2″ thick by 4′ wide by 8′ long weighing in around 51 pounds), have a physically able helper, and a few drywall tools then you’re more than able to do it yourself.  Drywall comes in various sizes from 1/4″ to 5/8″ thick, 48″ to 54″ wide, and 8′ to 14′ long.  Like I mentioned earlier, most homes with 8′ ceilings use 1/2″ x 4′ x 8′ sheets, but, depending on the room dimensions longer and/or wider sheets can create less waste and fewer seams.  Throughout a home standard drywall will most likely be used except around fireplaces or boilers which use Type X or Fire Rated 5/8″ thick drywall, and in moisture prone areas such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and sometimes kitchens which use Moisture Resistant drywall.

The tools you’ll need are shown in the pictures below:  hand held drywall saw, T-square, razor w/ extra blades, tape measure, level and speed square (sometimes makes marking electrical boxes and other cuts quicker), a screw gun, drywall screws, and a pen or pencil.  I didn’t mention nails because I don’t use them due to the facts that they don’t hold the drywall as well to the stud or joist and they are more prone to nail “pop” thus creating future repairs.  Drywall screws vary by length and the type of stud or joists you will be screwing into behind the drywall.  As a general rule of thumb, 1-5/8″ coarse thread drywall screws work great for 1/2″ – 5/8″ thick drywall.  These are the screws I use when doing any drywall installation when screwing into wood studs.

IMG_0925[1] IMG_0927[1]

Using a screw gun takes some practice (and patience) but once you get the hang of it, it goes rather quickly.  A couple keys to remember are:  adjust the screw depth to where the drywall screw is just below the paper layer of the drywall without tearing, and allow the screw to begin screwing into the stud before completely pulling the trigger.  Unlike a conventional drill, a screw gun will help you set the depth of each screw to the same depth every time.

Depending upon the number of sheets of drywall you will be using I suggest having it delivered.  I just had about 110 sheets delivered and two guys using a specialty truck unloaded all of the sheets, divided them up, and placed them in their individual rooms in about 30 minutes (well worth the extra delivery fee).

Once the electrical is completed, the insulation is installed between the wall studs and ceiling joists, and the drywall sheets are divided up in the rooms, you’re now ready to begin installing the drywall sheets.DSCN6248

If you’re by yourself, renting or purchasing a drywall lift is well worth the money; not to mention the lack of back pain.  A few keys to success when installing drywall:

  • Stagger drywall ends by 48″ assuming you’re using 8′ sheets (in some instances I’ve staggered a specific wall as little as 2′ for the wall fitment to lay out the way I wanted it).  This lessens the chance of cracks later on after the drywall has been taped and had drywall “mud” applied.
  • Make sure the end of a sheet of drywall is centered on a stud or joist that it will be attached to.  This makes sure the sheet will be securely attached and supported.
  • Place screws a minimum of 3/8″-1/2″ back from the drywall edge when attaching.  This will lessen the chance of it fracturing.
  • Install drywall perpendicular to the studs or joists they are being attached to.
  • Install screws every 12″ width wise across the sheet.  This means you will have 45 screws holding each sheet of drywall to the ceiling or wall.
  • Install the drywall on the ceiling before installing it on the walls.  This allows all the ceiling drywall sheets to be supported around the edges of the room by the upper drywall sheets placed on the wall.
  • If a sheet of drywall will need to have a hole cut for an electrical box I recommend first cutting it while it is on the floor as opposed to cutting it once it is installed on the ceiling (wall hole cut outs will need to be installed before installation, but ceiling electrical boxes give you the option of cutting them before installation or after using an electric spiral saw).
  • Make sure end joints do not line up with the edge of a window or door opening.

As I continue writing, I’ll trust that you’ve read the keys for success above and skip most of those steps as I explain further.  A tip for making sure your screws attach to the centers of the joists or studs is by marking the center of each joist or stud on top and bottom.  Then using an 8′ level, or straight 8′ board, draw a line down the drywall making marks every 12″.  DSCN6261DSCN6260
The first sheet you’ll install will be on the ceiling starting in any corner of the room.  With a helper, hold the drywall panel against the ceiling joists while butting up two of the panel edges against the wall studs.  When installing your first panel on the wall you do the same procedure except for butting the long edge of the wall panel against the long edge of the ceiling panel and against the opposing wall studs.

If the ceiling joists and wall studs are centered correctly, you should be able to install your first piece using a full sheet of drywall.  The picture shows the first WALL sheet hung with the screws completed.  DSCN6258

You’ll notice in some of the pictures there will be additional wood bracing I’ve installed to make sure the ends of the drywall or center of the drywall is adequately supported and attached.  You can IMG_0577[1]use plastic IMG_0625[1]brackets to do this also but I prefer wood.IMG_0626[1]

Continue the drywall row in the same manner until reaching the opposite wall.  The last piece in the row will most likely need to be cut in order to fit within the remaining gap.  DSCN6268To cut a sheet of drywall simply mark the length needed onto the drywall and then hang your T-square in line with the mark you made.  Score the line using a razor alongside the T-square.  Then, snap the waste part of the sheet away from the scored line.  Using the razor, continue cutting through the paper backing until it is cut in two pieces:  do not tear them apart.  Then Start the next row making sure all end joints offset the panels in the first row by preferably at least 4 feet while continuing the same procedure you used in the first row.  Installing drywall on the ceiling and walls is practically the same procedure.

Drywall over window and door openings because it is easy to cut out the openings after the drywall panels are attached.DSCN6262

Below are some various pictures of installed drywall.

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Once all of the drywall has been installed, you’ll need to install the metal corner bead over all of the exposed edges.  Cut the metal corner bead to the length needed and attach using at least 1-5/8″ drywall, coarse thread screws.  Place the screws every 8-12″ and slightly sink the screw heads into the corner bead.  Congrats, you are now ready for taping and applying joint compound “mud” to all of the drywall seams.

6 thoughts on “How to Install Drywall (Sheetrock)

  1. This article was so much help! My husband and I are finally ready to finish our basement. There is no drywall up, so we have lots to do. Putting drywall is quite the process! After looking at this, I think it might be better for us to hire professionals! It would be comforting to know that the job was done correctly, and that we won’t have to go back and fix it.

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