Like painting, drywalling is a very labor-intensive technique. In addition the drywall installer and taper has to be skilled because any imperfections will be picked up long after the painters have left. This is why a great emphasis should be placed on hiring the right drywall contractor for the job.
Drywalling is actually two separate jobs. The first part is the sheetrock installation which entails cutting, shaping, putting the panels into place and then fastening them. The second part includes taping the seams and then sealing both these and the screw heads with drywall compound. This latter process revolves around coating and sanding these surfaces until the walls and corners are smooth and you can't tell where one sheet begins and the other ends.
Taking all this into account, it is no small wonder that special steps should be taken when hiring a drywall contractor.
If you take a look at a finished wall in any home it looks like a seamless flow of color which is only interrupted by the corners. And these looked like they have been hewed from a single block with a precision saw blade. Only your previous knowledge of building will tell you differently. However, the drywall job is only as good as the framework to which it is fastened.
A sheet of drywall is actually a dried slab of pressed gypsum with a tight skin of paper on each side. So besides the fragile bond of the gypsum itself only the paper holds this inner core together. This whole 4' wide sheet, whether it be 8', 10' or 12' long, is held onto the framework with either drywall screws or nails and the holding surface for these fasteners is just the thin, compressed paper. If the wall is bowed or warped at all the heads of these fasteners will work their way through the board as the sheet tries to retain the original attitude it had when manufactured.
This is the same for ceilings as well. Sometimes drywallers will add cardboard shims putting the ceiling on as it is hard for the framers to get 10 -12 joists to hang exactly the right height. Long boards like these have crowns and valleys that occur from the kiln drying process. Some drywallers will use a laser level to get this right while others will shim as they go along. Either way it is the skill of the installer that is important.
Hiring the Drywall Contractor
As nothing is more infuriating to a homeowner than to see bulges and rifts on a finished wall you can't hire just anyone to drywall your home. There are ways to find out the ones who will do the best job. A drywalling company can cost in the realm of $25 to $45 per hour per person for sheetrock installation and drywall taping so they are not cheap. This is why you have to follow a few guidelines:
Finding a Contractor
This can be accomplished through a variety of places like the internet, home building stores and word-of-mouth. Usually home building places are good because they know the credit history of all the contractors and can give you an idea of who is trustworthy. Web sites like HandyAmerican.com can provide you with detailed information about contractors rated and reviewed by your neighbors.
Questions for the Contractors
Here are a few questions to ask:
- How long has your company been in business?
- Are you licensed (if it is required in the state or county)?
- Can you provide proof of insurance?
- Do you have your own crew?
- How would you do this job? Inclusions?
- When would be the tentative start and finish dates?
- Will you obtain the required permits?
- What is you payment schedule?
- Can I see your references?
- Will you bring the right drywall tools and will you clean up and take all garbage away when you leave?
- Will you provide a written contract with all the details agreed upon?
Remember, a professional will not be offended by your questioning. This is all part of the process and he or she will be happy that you are astute. This means that the lesser competition will be weeded out.
Choosing the Contractor
Good contractors love to show off their work and will probably provide the interviews with their former clients. As well, homeowners love to show off good work in their homes so go and see the work.
Check with the Better Business Bureau and licensing office. This is not the basis a good or bad contractor but will fill in the blanks.
Another rule-of-thumb is the ability to work with someone. If you get a good feeling about a contractor this should not be the only determining factor but it should weigh in with the rest. Communication is a real necessity and it is important that you and the contractor are on the right wavelength as to what you want.
Check over the estimates and see that everything is included for all of them. Make sure that the start and end dates are included eve though you will have to allow some leeway for unexpected scheduling difficulties for either party.
When you choose the right contractor make he or she reiterate the whole estimate and sign it. Some people have short memories or might confuse your bid with another so get all the facts straight. Never pay for the job up front but it is alright to give a deposit to ensure your commitment as the contractor will have to assign people to work on the job.Posted by: TrustedPros