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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How-To Articles > Installing Drywall

Installing Drywall

Hanging Drywall can be an intimidating task. Don't worry! Once you have a handle on the installation basics (and a little hands-on practice), it's not really that difficult. All you need is a little patience, the right tools a helper and some good instructions.

Figuring the amount of drywall just takes a few minutes. You can quickly determine how much drywall you need to complete your project. Use the Materials Estimating Chart to find the number of drywall panels required for the room. Be sure to allow 10% to 15% overage for cutting and piecing. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials

Tools

  •   • Tape measure
  •   • Drill/driver with bits
  •   • Hammer
  •   • Large straight-edge or drywall T-square
  •   • Utility knife
  •   • 6", 8" and 12" finishing knives
  •   • 1-1/4" drywall nails for 1/2" drywall, or 1-3/8" drywall
    nails for 5/8" drywall, or 1 1/4" Type W gypsum drywall
  •   • Drywall saw
  •   • Plastic pan for joint compound
  •   • 100 to 150 grit sandpaper
  •   • Sponge
  •   • Caulk gun
  •   • Goggles
  •   • Dust mask

Materials

  •   • Drywall
  •   • Joint compound
  •   • Joint tape
  •   • Corner bead
  •   • Panel adhesive
  •   • Screws

Techniques for Securing Drywall

Nail or screw boards to the joists, using 1-1/4" drywall nails for 1/2" drywall, 1-3/8" drywall nails for 5/8" drywall or 1 1/4" Type W gypsum drywall screws. Space nails not to exceed 7" on ceilings and 8" on sidewalls, a minimum of 3/8" and a maximum of 1/2" away from drywall edges. Screws should be spaced no more than 12" apart on ceilings and 16" apart on sidewalls.

Slightly recess the nail head with the final blow of the hammer. Indent the face paper without tearing it. This action is called "dimpling". Later, these slight depressions will be finished smooth with joint compound. If you prefer screws to nails, use only coated gypsum board screws (wood screws tear the board) and a screw gun. The gun will place the screw slightly below the face of the paper. You will later fill these depressions with joint compound. Be careful not to break the face paper.

Install Drywall Panels

With a few simple instructions, anyone can install drywall.

Use T-braces to support ceiling panels.

Mark the wall stud locations on your panels.

A panel lifter makes installing drywall easier.

  1. Start with proper framing. Be sure studs are straight with double studs at inside corners to provide adequate nailing surface at adjoining walls.

  2. Align all electrical outlets, heating ducts, etc., so they will be flush with the drywall surface.

  3. Start with the ceiling, applying drywall at right angles to joists. To support the board's weight, use a temporary T-brace.

When installing drywall on the ceiling, pay special attention to the "butt" ends. A butt end is the cut end. You can think of it as the short edge of the drywall. Be sure to stagger butt end joints so that a single joint does not extend all the way across the ceiling. Also, be sure that like ends meet together. Tapered edges should meet only tapered edges. Never place a butt end next to a tapered edge.

Building Your Own T-Braces

You can easily make T-braces and use them to support drywall panels while driving nails or screws. Start with two 2x4 wood uprights that are 1/2" longer than the floor-to-ceiling height. Nail a 3' piece of 1x4 board to the long boards. Then simply wedge the T-braces between the floor and panel and you’re ready to fasten the drywall to the joists.

  4. Next prepare to apply upper side-wall panels to abut the ceiling. You will need to know the exact spacing between your wall studs. Using your pencil, mark the position of all studs on the sidewall panels prior to applying board to walls.

  5. Install top row of sidewall panels horizontally across studs, holding panel tightly against ceiling board. Space nails a maximum of 8" apart or screws a maximum of 16" apart, starting at the centre of the panel and working outward toward the perimeter.

  6. Hold the lower sidewall panel snugly against the upper panel. A simple foot-operated panel lifter will help hold the panel until nails are driven. Begin nailing near the centre of board and proceed to the outside.

Good idea: For added strength when applying wall panels to studs, consider using a quality wallboard adhesive in addition to nailing or screwing.

Cutting Drywall

Measure carefully to lay out your cuts.

Use a straightedge as a cutting guide.

It's often necessary to cut drywall to fit short walls, allow for doorways and to leave openings for electrical outlets, etc. The steps are as follows:

  •   1. Measure carefully. Mark the drywall with a pencil.
  •   2. Using a straightedge and utility knife, score the drywall on the face paper side along the pencil line(s).
  •   3. Snap board along the score over the edge of a solid support. A quick action produces the best results.
  •   4. Using your utility knife, cut through the back paper.
  •   5. Smooth the rough edges with a rasp.

Cutting drywall is a three-step process: Score the panel and snap it.
Cut through the back paper. Clean up the edges.

Finishing Drywall Joints

Finishing a drywall joint is relatively simple if you follow these basic instructions:

  •   1. Apply a uniform layer, 4" wide, of compound to the joints.
  •   2. Centre tape over the joint and press firmly into place with the knife.
  •   3. Remove excess joint compound, leaving a sufficient amount under tape for adhesion to wallboard.

Apply a uniform layer
of compound.

Seat the tape in place.

Cover the tape.

  •   4. Let joint dry for 24 hours.
  •   5. First finish coat: Apply a thin coat of compound and feather out 3" to 4" on each side of the tape. Let compound dry thoroughly (approximately 24 hours).
  •   6. Second finish coat: Apply a second thin coat, feathering out 8" to 10" on each side of the tape. Let dry approximately 24 hours.
  •   7. Sand compound with a damp sponge to remove imperfections and blend with existing surface.
  •   8. Prime before decorating.

Joint Compound Drying Time Guide(Approximate drying times.)

The chart below is a helpful guide in determining approximate drying times for joint compounds under a variety of humidity/temperature conditions. Temperatures below the minimum application requirement of 10°C are not recommended for the application of joint compound.

R.H.

Temperature

10°

16°

21°

27°

38°

0%

38/H

28/H

19/H

13/H

9/H

6/H

3/H

20%

2/D

34/H

23/H

16/H

11/H

8/H

4/H

40%

2.5/D

44/H

29/H

20/H

14/H

10/H

5/H

50%

3/D

2/D

36/H

24/H

17/H

12/H

6/H

60%

3.5/D

2.5/D

42/H

29/H

20/H

13.5/H

8/H

70%

4.5/D

3.5/D

2.25/D

38/H

26/H

19.5/H

10/H

80%

7/D

4.5/D

3.25/D

2.25/D

38/H

27/H

14/H

90%

13/D

9/D

6/D

4.5/D

3/D

49/H

26/H

98%

53/D

37/D

26/D

18/D

12/D

9/D

5/D

NOTE: R.H.= Relative Humidity D = Days (24 hour period) H = Hours

Inside Corners

Joint the inside corners.

Apply 2" band of joint compound to both sides of inside corner. Crease tape along score line and press firmly into corner. Remove excess joint compound, leaving a sufficient amount under tape for adhesion to wallboard. Apply finish coat to one side of corner. Allow to dry. Then apply finish coat to the other side of corner. Allow to dry.

Outside Corners

Blend the corner bead with the panels.

Corner bead should be nailed 9" on center through each flange with nails opposite. Apply joint compound over the corner bead flange. First coat should be approximately 4" wide; second coat 6" to 10" wide on each side of corner.

Priming

For best decorating results, prime all repaired surfaces with a high-quality primer before decorating.

Painting

To insure a top quality job, we recommend two coats of a quality paint be applied (primer and finish or two coats of finish) according to the recommendations of the paint manufacturer.

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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