How To Drywall

The process of drywalling is covering the interior of the home with a shell. Professionals have the expertise on how to drywall and drywall tools to complete the job but it can be a do-it-yourself project if you follow the right set of steps.


In a nutshell drywall covers the studs after the insulation is put in. The wall studs are usually place at 16” centers so a 4 foot wide sheet would span and be fastened on 4 studs. Next, the joints are taped which requires paper tape sandwiched between layers of drywall compound. Then the screw or nail heads and any other blemishes are “mudded” with the compound and sanded smooth when dried. Then the surface is ready for painting.

Compute the Square Footage

This is not tough either. Take the horizontal and vertical measurements of each wall and multiply them. Then add all the sums together. If there are windows or doors don't subtract them as you will need extra pieces.


Standard residential sheetrock, or drywall sheets, comes in 4' X 8' sheets but it is also available in 10 and 12 foot lengths too. Since most walls are 8 feet the smaller sheets are recommended for the do-it-yourselfer. The standard thickness for sheetrock is 1/2” for walls and 5/8” for ceilings. For kitchens and around furnace rooms it is recommended to put a fire-rated board. For the number of sheets required divide the square footage by area of the sheetrock (32 square feet for a 4' X 8' sheet) and then add 10% for wastage.

Other Materials

When it comes to drywalling materials a home supply store will be able to outfit you with the right amount but a rule-of-thumb is for every 1000 square feet of drywall:

  • 7 pounds of nails or screws
  • 500 foot roll of tape
  • 5 gallon pail of drywall compound
  • Outside metal corners (8 foot lengths. Compute the number of corners)
  • Inside paper corners (8 foot lengths. Compute the number of corners)

Drywall Tools

It always pays to have the right tools.

  • Drill with drywall bit or drywall hammer for nails
  • 5” drywall taping knife
  • 10” drywall taping knife
  • Utility knife and extra blades
  • Drywaller's T-Square or jig
  • Drywall Sanding block
  • T-Bar Jig: If you are doing a ceiling then you will need a way to prop the sheetrock panels to the joists. Cut 2 pieces of 2' X 4' into 3' lengths and then nail these to the ends of two full-length 2' X 4's to for a couple of T's.

Hanging Drywall

To install drywall alone is a frustrating enterprise and leads to a shoddy job so try and get an assistant. The job will go much quicker.

  1. Measurement: The proper measurement for drywall is just as important as cutting wood, only for a slightly different reason. If it's too big it won't fit and trying to force it, like a piece of wood, only ruins the end and the sheet may break in the middle. So cut the sheet 1/8” shorter as the tape and the compound covers the rest and the sheet will still have enough on the edges to to be fastened. Place the sheet on a flat surface and measure. Either draw a straight line between the 2 measurements or use a drywaller's T-square.
  2. Cutting: Score the line with a utility knife then lift up on the cut up from under neath. The board snap along the line. Lift the board into a “tent” shape and cut the paper along the seam underneath. You will now have 2 boards and can smooth edges with coarse sandpaper.
  3. Fastening: Do the ceiling first and use the T-Bars to hold the sheet up there. With your assistant holding one end with a T-bar drag the bottoms of both T-bars along the floor until the sheet is tightly held. Drive a nail into the bottom of the T-bar to fasten it to the floor.

    A drill works best to fasten because it is easier to control. Place screws at 6” intervals in all the studs. For a good way to make sure every screw hits wood draw a line with a straight edge along the sheet to match the position of the stud it will go against. It takes extra time but not as much as filling extra holes.

  4. Corners: Place the metal corner on and get your assistant to help hold it while you place screws in both sides as you go down.

Drywall Taping

  1. Joint Compound: Fill the joints with compound using the 5” taping knife. Each sheet will have recesses on the long sides so just make sure you fill the crack and leave enough compound to affix the tape.
  2. Taping: Press the tape into the compound along the crack. Scrape excess mud off with the taping knife. Wait 24 hours to dry.
  3. Second Coat: Apply a thin coat that will extend over the side and cover the first coat. Scrape off extra. Let dry for 24 hours.
  4. Third Coat: Using the 10” knife fill in the rest and extend the compound around 6” on each side. Let this dry and then sand with a medium-grit sanding block.

Corners require extra care and sanding. You can fold the tap and do the inside corners but the pre-made ones make a nicer job for the do-it-yourselfer.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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