Drywall Taping and Finishing

Drywall Installation - Cutting and Installing Drywall

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Cutting Drywall

  1. Lay the piece down (unfinished side down) on a flat clean surface free of anything that could damage the drywall.
  2. Measure your piece and place marking where the cut is to be made.  It is often helpful to make a mark along the entire length of your cut. Always make your pieces a little smaller (1/8" to 1/4" less) than you measured to account for extra gypsum on the edges and lack of square-ness. Also, cut pieces so there is a 1/4" gap at the floor to prevent moisture or water absorption at the floor level (especially on concrete).
  3. Place your T-square so that the square rests on top of the piece you will be using. This insures that if your knife strays, it will not damage your piece.  Firmly hold the T-square in place.  I like to use one hand and a knee.
  4. Make your cut.  You only have to break the surface of the paper and cut slightly into the gypsum.
  5. Tip your piece up so that you can apply pressure to the opposite side of the cut.  The sheet should then snap and fold. I like to have my sheet standing on end with the cut running vertically if possible.
  6. You need to then cut the paper at the fold.  The two pieces will snap apart.  Be careful not to have the pieces rip apart with one taking paper off the other. Watch my kids cut and install a piece of drywall in this video.

Installing Drywall - Drywall Installation Tips

  • Make sure there is fastening material (studs) running the length of all joints and inside corners.  If needed, install wood studs.
  • When installing both wall and ceiling drywall, make sure to install ceiling drywall first. Then install the wall drywall so it acts as a support for the ceiling. If you must install the ceiling 2nd, use extra fasteners.
  • Cut your pieces to allow a 1/4" space at the floor level.  Keeping the drywall edge off the floor will prevent water and moisture damage. Place a wood shim at the floor as a spacer for the sheet of drywall to rest on.

    Check out my other DIY sites:
    How to Level the Ground and Setup an Above Ground Pool
    Raising Chickens in Your Back Yard

  • Remember to place a moisture barrier under your drywall for cold-climate homes!  This will keep moisture from condensing in your insulation which then can result in mold and reduced R-values. Also, for very cold climates, you should consider converting your two-by-four walls into two-by-six walls by adding 2-inch ripped studs and new insulation - you will be glad you did! For details on my project, click here.
  • Use 1 1/4" drywall screws rather than nails.  Screws won't come loose - nails will.  In our 35-year old house, many of the nails have worked their way out. Be careful if you use screws longer than 1 1/4" since you may very easily screw into wiring running through studs!
  • To prevent missing the studs, pre-mark where the studs are before you hide them with your sheet of drywall.  You can do this by making a mark on the floor and the ceiling and then drawing a line on the piece of drywall from the floor to ceiling marks.
  • The rule of thumb for drywall screw placement is to place screws no more than 16 inches apart on walls and no more than 12 inches apart on ceilings.  Placing screws closer than the minimum will not hurt - you just have more screw depressions to fill.
  • Set screws so the head does not rupture the paper. If you do rupture the paper, simply place and additional screw within an inch or two.
  • After all screws have been applied, run a 4 inch putty knife over the surface of the drywall.  The edge of the knife can NOT hit any screws.  If the knife hits a screw head, set the screw a little deeper.
  • A cordless driver is handy for setting screws.  For small jobs, this inexpensive driver (around $30 at a Menards Home Store) works well.  For larger jobs (whole house), you should probably invest in a higher end driver. My NEW driver is a Rockwell cordless and it has worked incredibly well for years.
  • You should find a friend experienced in building to help you out on your first job of hanging drywall - at least to get you started.
  • For installing high ceiling drywall, you should probably hire a professional.  For this type of drywall installation, expensive scaffolding and a drywall lift are needed. To find used drywall panel lifts and a used drywall lift for sale go to this link.

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