Hanging Drywall Correctly!


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When hanging drywall always work from the top to the bottom. And always run the sheets perpendicular to the framing. Hang drywall on ceilings before walls, so the sheets on the walls can help support the corners of the ceiling sheets. Mark joist locations on top plates of the walls so the joists are easier to find when fastening ceiling sheets. Then mark the stud locations of walls on the ceiling sheets and on the floors so they're easier to find when fastening the wall sheets.

Nails vs. Screws:

Building codes have very strict regulations about how many fasteners need to be used. Nails are the easiest to use for do-it-yourselfers who are not comfortable with a screw gun. For 1/2" drywall, use 1-1/4" ring shank nails. This type of nail holds better into wood framing and prevents "popping". Use a hammer to set the nails. It has a rounded head that sets the nails just a little below the surface and leaves a shallow dimple without breaking the paper. This dimple then gets filled in with joint compound later. With nails you usually need one every 7 inches on ceilings and every 8 inches along walls. This may not be enough, depending on the thickness of the board and the spacing of the joists or studs. Using screws can go a lot faster, if you have the right tool. You want to use a special electric drywall screw gun that lets you adjust it to sink the screws a little below the surface. Screws are stronger than nails. You only need to use one screw every 12 inches along the ceilings and every 16 inches on walls. If you have a bent nail or screw just nail it in so it's not sticking out from the surface and then mud over it later. This is less work and damage to the paper if you try to pry it out.

Hanging Drywall on Ceilings:

Getting sheets of drywall up to the ceiling can be difficult. And once you get them up, holding them in place while you screw or nail them is another challenge. Renting a drywall lift and jacks or a couple of helpers for this job is recomended. Once you get a sheet in place, just nail or screw around the edges of the sheet and as many as you can before you take the lift or jacks away. You can wait until all the sheets are up to put the fasteners in the middle. Professional installers will use a chalk line to locate the framing on the drywall before it is lifted into place. When fastening around the edge, keep the screw or nail at least 3/8" back from the edge so you don't fracture the drywall. Start the ceiling using full sheets, and cut them so the edge is centered on a joist. Stagger the joints between sheets from row to row. This will make your walls stronger.

Hanging Drywall on Walls:

The rules for hanging drywall on walls are basically the same as those for hanging ceilings. It works best to have two people to lift sheets up to the top row. Start nails across the top of a sheet before lifting it. This leaves both of your hands free to lift the sheet and nail it in place. Conventional wall framing leaves 8 feet 1-1/8" between the sub floor and the bottom of the trusses or joists. With two rows of drywall, you have about a 1/2" gap left. Normally you should leave this at the bottom of the wall where it'll be covered up by the baseboard. To hold the bottom row snug up to the top while fastening the sheet, use a little lifter with your foot. Around window and door openings, you want to avoid creating joints at the corners. This will weaken the wall and will be more likely to crack at those joints. If you're working around the top of a shower or tub that's got a flange, you want to install the drywall or backer board over the flange. Before doing this, fur out the studs with strips of masonite so that you have a flush surface to attach the drywall or backer board to.

Getting the Joints Right:

A real important thing to remember when hanging any drywall is to line up the joints right. The "factory edge" of a drywall sheet is the finished, smooth edge made at the factory. The edges are also beveled, so when they butt together you get a nice recess for filling in the joints. This way the joints end up flush with the sheet, rather than having a build-up. So ideally, you always want a factory edge next to a factory edge. Cut edges should be butted together. They call this a "butt-joint." Before taping and mudding butt-joints, some people will "v" them out with a utility knife to make a recess. This helps eliminate having a "hump" where the joint is.

Special Situations:

When you have soffit to drywall, hang the bottoms of the soffit with the ceiling and the sides of the soffit with the walls. Soffit that is open to the floor or ceiling above can cause a serious fire hazard. A fire in an open soffit can easily travel up to the ceiling or floor above. You want to drywall inside the soffit so fire will not move up as easily. If you have framing for a pocket door, be careful not to poke the nails or screws into the area where the door will slide. Use shorter fasteners if necessary. When dry walling a bathroom you might need to install green board or concrete backer board. These install in much the same way as drywall. You may have walls taller than eight feet. In this case you will probably have a narrow strip left after two rows of drywall. This thin strip is called a "ripper". Where you put the ripper depends on a variety of factors. You may want to put the ripper on top instead of on the bottom so you don't have to bend over when taping. Put it on the bottom if you have several things breaking up the wall, like doors or a fireplace, so you don't have as many joints. And if your ripper is only a few inches wide, you may want to put it in the middle of the wall. That way you end up with two joints close together and you can combine them into one wider joint.

Installing Corner Bead:

Outside corners can get damaged easily so you want to protect them with a metal corner bead. Do this before starting the tape coat. Wrap the corner bead around the corner and check to be sure it's plumb. Adjust it if it's not. Nail it in about every 8 inches making sure you hit the wood framing. This is a critical step and care should be taken to get the bead plumb with the wall and installed so that the trowel does not hit the nailing edges when you are applying the mud. As you are nailing the bead, use your 4 inch blade and slide it up and down on both sides to see if it hits the screws or the flange of the bead itself. Correct as needed. The corner bead will get covered up in the finishing process. Go to drywall finishing!

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