How to Install a Wallboard in a Bathroom


Installing any type of fixture or support in a bathroom comes with a handful of complications. Bathrooms are by nature humid and moist areas, and regular installations cannot stand up to the wear and tear. The same goes for wallboard (also called drywall, backer board and gypsum board), which supports tiles, painting and wallpaper. To hang this support material on your bathroom surfaces, you must use waterproof board to ensure it stands up to the moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Waterproof wallboard
  • Drywall screws
  • Drill
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil or chalk line
  • Drywall tape
  • Drywall mud
  • Line up your first piece of waterproof wallboard in one corner of the ceiling. The long edge of the board should run perpendicular to the ceiling joists. Have an assistant hold the board in place and drive five screws, spaced evenly along the width of the board, into the ceiling joist closest to the wall. Drive the screws so that they are secure against the paper front of the board but do not break the paper.

  • Drive five screws evenly spaced across the width of the board at each ceiling joist the board crosses. This will secure the board in place against the ceiling. Finish the first row of waterproof wallboard panels, installing each panel the same way.

  • Cut wallboard as necessary to fit your installation pattern. Move the wallboard outdoors to a well-ventilated area, as the board will put off a lot of dust when cut. Score through the front paper with a sharp utility knife, and then bend the panel over the edge of a table or against your leg until it snaps along the line. Use the knife to cut through the back paper to separate the two pieces.

  • Cut off 4 feet from the first wallboard panel for all even rows of your ceiling installation (i.e. the second row, fourth row, and so on). Staggering adjacent joints by 4 feet ensures a stronger support for future installation such as tile. Continue to cut and drill until you have covered the entire ceiling.

  • Work along each wall and mark the location of every stud on the ceiling and floor with a pencil or chalk line. This will ensure that even after you set the wallboard in place, you can still attach it firmly to the studs for best hold.

  • Line up the first panel in the top corner of one of the walls. Check to make sure the end of the panel stops at the center of a stud. If it doesn't, trim enough off the edge so that it does.

  • Have a helper hold the panel in place so that it butts firmly against the ceiling and the adjacent wall. Drive five evenly spaced screws into every stud over which the panel crosses. Repeat trimming as necessary and installing until you have completed the top row of wallboard installation.

  • Hang the bottom row of wallboard using the same methods. For the wall installation, you do not need to stagger the joints.

  • Seal seams with drywall tape or paper tape adhered to the wall with a thin layer of drywall mud spread across the seams with a flat putty knife. This will prevent any moisture from leaking into seams and damaging the joists or studs. Allow the mud to dry completely per product instructions before performing any other maintenance to the wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have to cut around fixtures on the wall or ceiling, use a rotary tool with a sharp bit to cut out the necessary shapes. You can do this before or after attaching the board to the wall or ceiling.
  • Water resistant is not the same as waterproof. Water resistant wallboard will still absorb some moisture, leading to potential damage over time. You must use waterproof material for a safe and lasting installation.

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