Drywall panels, with their wide flat surfaces, are standard in residential ceiling construction, but a leaky roof, smoke or structural settling can wreak havoc on your once-smooth ceiling. The materials used to repair or replace ceiling drywall are relatively inexpensive, but your costs can go considerably up if you hire a drywall contractor. The extent of the repairs will determine the final project cost. Construction material costs fluctuate, sometimes monthly, depending upon nationwide supply and demand.
Small Repair Costs
Small cracks, less than 1/4-inch, are the least expensive to repair. You can use a cheap plastic putty knife to scrape away loose drywall debris from the crack before applying a thin layer of drywall joint compound, which sells for about $5.95 a gallon as of September 2011. You can fill a lot of small cracks with a gallon of joint compound. If your ceiling is textured, you can use thinned joint compound and a brush or sponge to cover patched cracks with a stippled texture.
Removing ceiling drywall is messy business, but it won’t put a big strain on your wallet. You’ll need a crowbar or nail bar to pry the old drywall panels off and pull out the remaining nails. Most communities will not pick up construction and demolition debris curbside unless you rent a construction dumpster for a fee set by your local waste authority. If you have use of a pickup truck, it may be less expensive for you to haul away the debris.
Replacing ceiling drywall is the most expensive option. In addition to the cost for old drywall disposal, you’ll have to purchase new drywall panels. A standard 4-foot by 8-foot panel that is 1/2-inch thick, runs about $6.98 as of September 2011, but allow for some waste when figuring out how many panels you’ll need. You’ll need joint compound, which is less expensive if you purchase it in 5-gallon buckets at about $12.96 per bucket. New drywall installation also requires an application of drywall tape that costs $9.98 for a 500-foot roll.
You can rent drywall taping tools and installation tools from a construction rental store, usually on a daily or weekly rate. When installing drywall panels overhead, a drywall lift is essential, but buying a new one can set you back anywhere from $200 to $500, or more. You can rent one for a fraction of the cost. Renting a complete set of drywall taping tools and a lift costs about $45 per day in the Midwest in 2011, but you can save money by returning the lift as soon as the panels are in place.
The biggest costs of any drywall ceiling repair are the fees for professional services. If you don’t want to tackle the project yourself, ask a local contractor to look at your ceiling and give you an estimate for repair or replacement. Fees vary from contractor to contractor and from community to community. Sometimes, your local lumberyard can recommend a talented new contractor or moonlighter whose labor fees are slightly less than the competition’s. But check references; you’re not getting a deal if you have to hire someone else to come back and fix shoddy workmanship.
- Lowe's: Lafarge Gypsum 1-Gallon Light Weight Drywall Joint Compound
- Lowe's: Gold Bond 1/2-inch by 8-foot by 4-foot Drywall Panel
- Lowe's: Beadex Brand 75-foot by 2 1/16-inch Joint Tape
- Lowe's: SHEETROCK Brand 61.7 pounds All-Purpose Drywall Joint Compound
- Lowe's: New York Wire 500-foot by 1.875-inch Joint Tape
- Sears: Pentagon Professional Wall Hanger Pro Drywall Lift
- Photo Credit Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images