How to Hang Drywall

Hanging drywall may sound complicated, but that doesn't have to be the case. Follow these step-by-step instructions and your installation will go smoothly.

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Installing drywall has a well-deserved reputation for being a lot of work. However, with patience and the right drywalling tools, you can get a professional-looking wallboard installation every time.

With patience and the right drywalling tools, you can become a sheetrocking expert!

Materials + Tools

  • T-square
  • sharp utility knife (extra blades recommended)
  • screw gun or screw setter
  • drywall screws
  • 4" drywall knife
  • 8" drywall knife
  • 4" x 16" drywall mud pan
  • caulk/adhesive gun
  • drywall router (large jobs) or keyhole saw (smaller projects)
  • sanding pads or small sanding blocks
  • sheets of wallboard
  • box of drywall screws
  • corner strips for outward corners
  • roll of joint tape
  • bucket of joint compound
  • tube of wallboard adhesive

Mark Stud Locations

Mark locations of all studs by making a pencil or a chalk line, corresponding to the stud locations, on the ceiling and the floor. Make marks large and noticeable enough so they won't get totally covered by the new drywall sheet.

Use a pencil or chalk to mark all stud locations.

Make a Ledge

If you're hanging your sheets horizontally, measure 48" down from the ceiling and place a mark on two studs. Insert one drywall screw deep enough into each stud to hold your piece of wallboard. You're essentially making a ledge on which to rest a large piece of wallboard.

Drywall is heavy! Use screws to create a ledge to support the weight of the upper sections of sheetrock.

Take Measurements

Measure where your wallboard needs to be trimmed. A standard piece of wallboard is 4x8. In the installation pictured, the wall is only 6' x 2.5" wide, so we need to cut some off the end.

Use a tape measure to determine how much drywall you'll need.

Cut the Drywall

Mark the location of your cut and use a T-square or other straight edge to score the front side of the wallboard using a sharp utility knife. Make your score fairly deep, at least 1/8" (Image 1). Apply pressure to the drywall to snap it along the score line (Image 2). You may find it helpful to place a piece of wood behind the drywall to brace against. Be careful that you don't rip the paper backing on the back side of the wallboard. Move to the back side of the wallboard and run your utility knife up the seam, cutting the paper backing to finish the cut (Image 3).

Apply Adhesive

Once you've trimmed your board to size and are ready to install, run a bead of adhesive down each stud. This will reduce the number of screws needed, provide additional sound deadening, and result in a stronger, flatter wall.

Apply adhesive to the studs that will be behind your drywall. This helps you use fewer screws, and it also provides sound insulation.

Press Into Place

Lift your wallboard and rest the bottom edge on your ledge screws and press it into place.

Press the drywall into place on the studs.

Secure Positioning

Using your ceiling and floor marks as references, drive three screws through the wallboard and into the studs to secure the wallboard in position.

Use drywall screws to secure the sheetrock in place.

Feel the Edges

Drywall screws should be properly "dimpled" into the wallboard so that they will not be visible. Using a screw gun for larger jobs will save time and produce a cleaner result. For smaller jobs we recommend a drywall screw-setter that will properly dimple your screwheads using a standard drill. The objective is to ensure that no screwheads are sticking out above the surface. You should be able to run your hands over the wallboard and not be able to feel the edges of the screwheads.

Feel the screw heads to make sure none are sticking above the surface of the drywall.

Three Screws Per Stud

Place three courses of evenly spaced screws in your newly installed wallboard — one course across the top and bottom edges and one course through the center. Use your ceiling marks as guides to ensure that every screw hits a stud. You should end up with three screws in every stud per piece of wallboard (top, middle and bottom).

Use three screws per stud to secure the drywall in place.

Cut Holes for Outlet & Switch Locations

If working around outlet boxes, you'll need to cut holes before hanging the drywall so the wallboard fits snugly over all of your outlets and switches.

Always make sure the power is turned off to all electrical outlets and switches and any unsecured wires are safely capped and pushed into the back of the box. If cutting for outlets on a bottom sheet of wallboard, measure from the top of the outlet box to the bottom edge of the wallboard above. Write your measurement on the wall directly above the outlet box (Image 1). Then, mark the width of the outlet box using lines on the left and the right sides of the outlet box. Transfer your measurements to the new bottom piece of wallboard so you will know where to cut around the outlet box (Image 2). Make sure to accurately define where the top edge of the outlet box should begin on your new piece of wallboard. Use a drywall router with a drywall bit installed or a keyhole saw to neatly cut the hole for the outlet box (Image 3). The drywall router is handy for larger jobs where there are numerous outlet holes, windows and doors to cut. Keyhole saws are great for smaller projects and hard to reach areas where there isn't much material cut out.

Fasten Your Wallboards Together

Fasten your lower piece in place using the same techniques as before, making sure that your outlet and switch boxes are all cut out and seated properly. Note that you may need to use shims to elevate the lower drywall for a tight fit.

Attach lower wallboard to studs, making sure drywall fits snugly over outlets and switches.

Form a Sharp Edge

Make sure that when two pieces of wallboard meet at a corner, they overlap to form a sharp edge. This is essential for the reinforcing corner bead that you'll need to install along the entire length of the corner joint.

When two pieces of drywall meet in a corner, one piece should overlap the other to provide a surface for the corner bead.

Use a Drywall Router (Optional)

Any large openings for doors, entryways or windows can be trimmed out using a drywall router.

You may wish to use a drywall router to cut openings for windows, doors and other large openings.

Prepare Joint Compound for Finishing

For filling joints, a bucket of pre-mixed, all-purpose drywall compound (also known as drywall mud) is recommended. Stir the bucket to a smooth consistency and fill a mud pan with enough joint compound to make one full coat over the joint you'll be working on. The technique for finishing horizontal and vertical seams is identical. It's usually best to start with the horizontal seams.

Prepare enough drywall joint compound to make one full coat over the sheetrock joint you're working on.

Fill Drywall Seam

Using your 4" putty knife, fill the entire length of the drywall seam from one end to the other. Make sure your final product is level with neatly feathered edges. When using drywall compound, the key is to work in thin, level coats. The objective is to fill the cracks and make them as level as possible with the wallboard on both sides of the seams.

Use a 4" putty knife to fill the drywall seam from one end to the other. You'll be working in thin coats. Be patient!

Lay Joint Tape

Lay your joint tape into the wet drywall compound and smoothly lay it into your freshly mudded joint. Slightly wetting the tape will keep it from binding and ease the application process. Use one piece of tape per seam. Leave 1/8" where two pieces of tape meet in any areas.

Slightly dampen your drywall tape and lay it onto your freshly mudded sheetrock seam.

Add Joint Compound

With your tape in place, take your 6" drywall knife and add a layer of joint compound over the tape and surrounding area. Make sure to completely cover the tape and make sure that you continue the process of laying smooth, thin coats that are level with the wall. The objective is to bed the tape into the first layer of joint compound while covering it with the second.

Use a 6" drywall knife to spread a thin layer of joint compound (mud) over the tape and surrounding area.

Add Corner Beads

For outside corners, you'll use a pre-fabricated corner bead instead of tape. These can be made from fiberboard or metal. The corner in our example is in a low-traffic area so we're using a fiberboard corner bead. Press it into your first coat securely (Image 1) and then lay your second coat over it just like you did for the tape (Image 2).

Fill Screw Dimples

Allow the taped seams to dry for the recommended time per the instructions on the joint compound. While the large joints are drying, fill all of the screw dimples and any other imperfections in the wallboard. You need one smooth even coat. Drive or gently hammer down any screw heads that are protruding from the wall and then cover those as well.

While the joint compound dries on the seams, cover any screw dimples. You may need to tighten some screws so they don't protrude above the sheetrock surface.

Ready for the Next Coat

Wait a full 12 hours for all of the joints to dry. You'll be able to see that all of the drywall compound has turned totally white. At this stage, you're ready for your next coat.

Once the joint compound is dry, you're ready for your next coat.

Apply the Finishing Coat

Using an 8" putty knife, apply a thin finishing coat to every seam and every corner. This is also a good opportunity to put a second coat on every screw dimple.

Use an 8" drywall knife to apply a thin finishing coat of joint compound.

Fill Any Low Spots

Make sure that all of your joints are level with your wallboard. You should be able to place the edge of a putty knife over any joints without seeing any light gaps underneath. Fill any low spots with another layer of drywall compound.

Use additional joint compound to fill in any low spots on the drywall as needed.

Sand the Joints

Wait another 12 hours for your finishing coat to dry completely. Once that's done, you're ready to sand your joints. Use a circular sanding pad for larger jobs, or a smaller hand-held sanding block for small areas. Sand gently until you cannot feel any joints, screws or imperfections with your hands.

Wait for the new coat of joint compound to dry, then sand it smooth.

Ready for Primer and Paint

Once you've finished sanding and touching up, your wallboards are ready for primer and paint.

After your sheetrocking joint compound is smooth and dry, you're ready to apply primer and paint.
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