How to Drywall a Basement Ceiling

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Finishing that basement? Drywall is the material of choice for finishing your ceiling. It is an affordable, simple-to-use product that has become the industry standard. This article will take you through the basic steps to drywall your basement ceiling.

Things You'll Need

  • Helper
  • 1/2-inch or 3/8-inch Drywall sheets
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Drywall screws
  • Drill
  • Fiberglass drywall tape
  • Drywall mud
  • 4-inch Drywall finishing knife
  • 8-inch Drywall finishing knife
  • 12-inch Drywall finishing knife

Hanging the Drywall

  • Measure the location for the first piece of drywall. Mark any cuts, with a pencil, on the front side of the drywall.

  • Use the utility knife to score the front of the drywall along your marks. Bend the drywall along the score. This will "break" the drywall. Score the back side of the drywall along the bend to separate the two pieces.

  • Mark the location where the ceiling joists meet the walls. You will want your mark to be located at the top of the wall. As the drywall covers the ceiling you will use the mark as a reference to know where the ceiling joists are located. This will aid the placement of screws.

  • Lift the piece of drywall into the desired location. Ensure the edge of the drywall falls on the center of a ceiling joist.

  • Place several screws through the drywall, into the joists. This will temporarily hold the drywall while you let your arms rest.

  • Place screws every 12 to 16 inches apart along the ceiling joists. Sink the screws deep enough to form a divot in the drywall but do not break through the paper.

  • Continue this same procedure for the entire ceiling.

Taping & Mudding

  • Use fiberglass drywall tape to cover every seam where two pieces of drywall meet.

  • Use a 4-inch drywall knife to apply a generous coat of mud to each seam.

  • Run the 4-inch knife at a 45-degree angle, with a little pressure, over the course of the seam to smooth the mud over the tape. Let the mud dry for 24 hours.

  • Lightly sand the seams to smooth any imperfections.

  • Using the 8-inch knife, apply more mud and smooth along each seam. Let it dry for 24 hours, sand lightly. Repeat this step with the 12-inch knife.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is easiest to purchase drywall mud that is premixed. It costs about the same as the powder mix. Stainless steel tools will not rust. Some cheap metal drywall knives have a tendency to rust very easily.
  • Be aware of any electrical wiring and the placement of screws. Gravity will cause some of the drywall mud to fall. Have the proper floor coverings in use.

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