hanging drywall tout

How to Hang Drywall

Drywall contractor Paul Landry's step-by-step method for installing rock

Call it wallboard, plasterboard, Sheetrock, or just plain "rock," like some pros do, drywall revolutionized the way walls and ceilings are covered. Before the 1950s, when these paper-wrapped gypsum panels came into widespread use, it took days for lathers and plasterers to create a firm, flat foundation for paint or wallpaper. With drywall, it takes a fraction of the time. Two pros can typically cover a 12-by-16-foot room in about an hour.

To work that fast takes practice and a few specialized tools. But hanging drywall is not just about speed. Doing the job right means using screws of the correct length, off-setting panels so seams don't line up, and making sure wires and pipes aren't vulnerable to puncture.

Installing drywall is easy enough for a homeowner, as long as there's someone to help; the heavy sheets are difficult to lift, particularly when doing ceilings.


Steps // How to Hang Drywall
1 ×

Hanging Drywall Overview

 
Step One // How to Hang Drywall

Hanging Drywall Overview

hanging drywall illustration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
2 ×

Measure and cut drywall for the ceiling

 
Step Two // How to Hang Drywall

Measure and cut drywall for the ceiling

taking measurements before hanging drywall
Photo by David Carmack

To determine where the first panel's end will land, measure out from a corner, perpendicular to the strapping, or the joists.

If the panel doesn't span the entire ceiling, its end must land on the center of a strapping piece or joist. If it doesn't, measure to the center of the farthest support piece the panel will overlap. Transfer that measurement to the edge of the first panel and mark it.

Hook a T-square on the panel and place it alongside the mark. Score through the paper on the front with a utility knife, using the T-square as a guide. Stand the panel on edge and snap the waste part of it away from the score line. Cut through the paper backing to remove the waste.

To help locate where screws will go around the room, mark the top plate at all locations where strapping or joists intersect the wall.
 

 
3 ×

Cover the ceiling

 
Step Three // How to Hang Drywall

Cover the ceiling

covering the ceiling with drywall
Photo by David Carmack

With an assistant, hoist the first panel into one corner of the ceiling. The edges should be perpendicular to strapping or joists and one end should be tight to the wall.

As the assistant holds the panel, drive five screws, evenly spaced, in a line across the panel's width and into the joist or strapping closest to the middle of the panel.

Use the marks on the top plate to help align the screws. Keep screws at least ½ inch from all edges. Drive the screwheads slightly below the surface of the paper but not so deeply that they break through.

Repeat this five-screw line at each joist or piece of strapping.

Continue the row in same fashion until reaching the opposite wall. Start the next row making sure all end joints offset the panels in the first row by at least 4 feet.
 

 
4 ×

Using rotary cut-out tool

 
Step Four // How to Hang Drywall

Using rotary cut-out tool

cutting around light fixtures when hanging drywall
Photo by David Carmack

Before installing a sheet of drywall over the electrical box of a ceiling fixture, measure from the center of the box to the near end of the last panel installed. Mark that panel end where the tape measure meets it and record the distance.

Cover the box with another panel, and attach it as in Step 3; do not drive screws any closer to the box than 24 inches.

From the mark on the last installed panel, measure out onto the new panel the same number of inches recorded previously, and mark the spot with an X.
 

 
5 ×

Cut around light fixtures

 
Step Five // How to Hang Drywall

Cut around light fixtures

Cutting around light fixtures
Photo by David Carmack

Plunge the bit of a rotary cut-out tool into the center of the X.

Move the tool outward until the bit strikes the inside of the junction box, then withdraw it and plunge it back into the panel next to the outside of the box.

Hold the bit against the box and move the tool counterclockwise around its perimeter.

Once the cutout is finished, drive the remaining screws into the panel.
 

 
6 ×

Cover the wall

 
Step Six // How to Hang Drywall

Cover the wall

covering the wall with drywall
Photo by David Carmack

Mark all the stud locations on the adjoining ceiling panels.

Use a tape measure to ensure the first panel's end will land in the center of a stud; if it won't, cut the panel as in Step 2.

With a helper, hold the panel against the studs so that one edge butts against the ceiling panel and one end fits snugly against the abutting wall.

Following the stud marks on the ceiling, drive a line of five screws through the drywall and into each stud. As in Step 3, start screwing into a stud close to the middle of the panel and work outward.

Continue hanging panels along the top of the wall, right over any window and door openings. (The excess will be trimmed later.) Make sure no seams line up with a door or window corner. Don't fasten panels to the framing around the openings yet.
 

 
7 ×

Finishing touches

 
Step Seven // How to Hang Drywall

Finishing touches

hanging drywall
Photo by David Carmack

After all the drywall has been installed, check for protruding screw heads. If you find any, carefully drive them in slightly below the surface of the drywall panel.

Also look for screws that were driven too deep and ripped into the paper face. Add a second screw next to any screw that has broken through the paper.

Sweep the floor clean, remove any debris and the room is now ready for drywall finishing.
 

 
 
 

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