Drywall Hanging Tips

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Hanging drywall is as much an art as a process, but the process is where you have start. The idea is to take 8-by-4 sheets of paper-covered chalk and, with screws, some mesh tape and a bucket of plaster joint compound, turn them into a smooth, solid wall that won't show where the seams are. Recruit a helper; it's possible to do it with one person, but inadvisable, as it's difficult to hold up the heavy drywall sheets while screwing them into place.

Layout

  • Drywall should go up in straight rows horizontally, with no four-way intersections between pieces. The edges of the drywall should always land in the middle of wall studs. Don't build off the floor, as it may not be level. Instead, draw a level line across the wall, 4 feet down from the ceiling (the width of a drywall sheet), and hang your first piece with the long edge on top of the line, so the other side abuts the ceiling, with the short edge against the vertical corner. The 8-foot length of the drywall should put the end at the center of a stud (since studs are supposed to be set every 16 inches); if not, cut the piece to size by scoring it with a razor knife and snapping it.

Mounting

  • Attach the drywall to the wall by sinking drywall screws every 6 inches or so along all the studs. (If you're hanging it over existing plaster, find and mark the studs with an electronic stud finder.) Set the screw heads just below the surface of the drywall, so you can run your hand over the surface and not feel them. Hang the top row of drywall first, then the bottom row, making sure the ends of the sheets on the top and bottom are on different studs. Don't worry if there is an inch or two of undrywalled space at the bottom, as the floor trim will cover it.

Taping

  • The seams between the pieces of drywall are plastered with joint compound to give the appearance of one smooth wall. The trick to getting it smooth is to use three layers of compound in increasingly wider and thinner applications. Start by putting mesh drywall tape over all the seams. Spread a narrow strip of compound over the seams. Put dabs of it over the screw holes as well. Let it dry, then sand it all smooth with drywall screening paper. Lay a second coat of compound, wider and thinner than the first. Sand again, then lay another wider, thinner coat. The final coat should just skim the surface and be about a foot wide. Sand it very lightly, and the wall is ready for priming.

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