How to hang sheetrock

Installing sheetrock walls is not a task that has to be completed by professionals, so you can save money by doing it yourself. The one thing to keep in mind is that it is going to be hard to do by yourself. Because the sheetrock is so heavy, you are going to need a friend or two. The mudding and taping aspect of installing sheetrock is something else that can be done without professional assistance, but at the same time with practice it is something that could be done.

Step 1: Measure and Order the Material

The first thing you need to do to install the sheetrock walls is to order the material needed. To do that you need to measure the area of installation in order to order the right size materials. Because the sheetrock material is 4×8, you calculate the total square feet of the ceiling and the walls and then divide it by 32. Then you order the materials based on the measurements.

Step 2: Prepare the House/Rooms

The next thing you need to do is to make sure that the area is safe for installation. The best way to do that is to have an inspector approves that the job can be done safely. After that a vapor barrier should be used to put over the insulation or the outside walls. The best vapor barrier is usually sheets of plastic. You staple the sheets of plastic on the framing that covers the insulation.

Step 3: Prepare Yourself

Once the area is safe, the next important thing is to make sure that you are safe. Be certain to use safety goggles, masks and gloves.

Step 4: The Actual Installation

When installing sheetrock, you begin with the ceiling. You must be remember to cut the drywall panels down to the correct size so it would fit. The sheets on the wall will help hold the sheets on the ceiling. The screws and nails have applied in a way that creates a dimple and does not break the paper. The way to be certain that the paper is not broken is to give every nail one more hammer blow than you normally would. The screws and nails should be integrated every 8 to 12 inches. The screws should be closer to 12 inches apart because they are stronger than the nails (the nails you may be integrate every six inches depending on size). The best bet is to connect the screws and nails to the edge of the sheetrock and then fill in the rest afterward. After the ceiling is finished then the wall panels must be cut and installed. To make the cutouts you have to measure the cutouts on the drywall.

Last Updated: May 27, 2021 References Approved

This article was co-authored by James Mansfield. James Mansfield is a Construction and Design Specialist and the CEO of WestVillage General Contracting, a high-end and luxury design/build firm in New York City. James specializes in apartment, bathroom, and kitchen remodeling as well as fine cabinetry, lighting, paint, and wallpaper. James has developed a proprietary system of construction called the Luxury Build Method that hinges on a skilled team, respected partnerships, and clear, transparent communication. WestVillage GC has completed more than 500 commercial and residential projects in New York with designers such as David Scott Interiors and Fox Nahem, Kelly Behun. WestVillage GC is also a preferred contractor for Related buildings including Hudson Yards.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Installing drywall, also known as sheetrock, rock, or wallboard, is an important part of building a house. Before the widespread use of drywall, it would take long amounts of time to build a foundation that would hold paint or wallpaper. Now, you can easily install your own drywall in hours, depending on how large the room is.

Drywall Install Tips

The direction of the drywall can mean the difference between a beautiful finished home and one with sagging ceilings and obvious wall seams.

Walls: Vertical or Horizontal?

Is the job commercial or residential?

Commercial: Hang the drywall vertically. On commercial jobs, fire codes often require seams to fall on the entire length of the framing, so the drywall must be hung vertically.

Residential: How high are the walls? For walls nine feet high or shorter, hanging the drywall horizontally has a number of benefits.

  • Fewer seams – Horizontal hanging reduces the lineal footage of seams by about 25%. Keeping the footage of seams to a minimum will result in less taping and a better looking finished job.
  • Hides uneven studs – Hanging horizontally also allows the drywall to flow over the framing so that bowed studs create less of a problem. If the drywall were hung vertically and a seam placed on a bowed out stud, the seam would be magnified because of the bump in the wall.
  • Easier to finish – A horizontal seam 48 inches or 54 inches off the floor is easier to finish uniformly, especially when compared to a vertical seam, which requires reaching up high and bending down low to finish. Also, don’t forget that drywall is available in long lengths so most walls can be covered in one length. CertainTeed Gypsum has drywall in lengths up to 16 feet and 54 inches wide to accommodate walls that are nine feet high.

Ceilings: Perpendicular or Parallel?

Most often I choose to hang the drywall on ceilings perpendicular to the joists. Yes, we are always trying to avoid butted seams, but an occasional butt seam is better than a ridged seam running the length of the ceiling, or sagged drywall between joists. Hanging drywall perpendicular to the overhead framing members is a good idea for several reasons:

  • Less visible seams – A perpendicular orientation allows each sheet of drywall to float over the framing members, making uneven joists or trusses blend in. If the on center spacing of the framing is off when the drywall is hung perpendicular, then the panel is simply cut back to the prior framing member, which would not be possible when hanging drywall parallel.
  • Structural strength – Drywall is typically stronger when hung in the long direction than it is in the short direction, which means less chance of sagging when attached perpendicular.

Exceptions to the Rule

How to hang sheetrock

If water-based textures are being applied to the ceiling, then 1/2″ interior ceiling board or 1/2″ lightweight drywall, such as CertainTeed® Easi-Lite™, is required.

I’m often tempted to hang drywall parallel if that is the shorter dimension of the ceiling, and in doing so would result in no butted seams on that ceiling. This can be done as long as the following conditions are met:

  • The type of drywall being used is approved for that on center spacing when hung parallel.
  • The ceiling joists are accurately spaced.
  • Heavy insulation will not be installed later, since that could cause the drywall to sag, or even fail.

Regular half inch drywall ceilings can be hung perpendicular if joists are spaced 24 inches or less apart (*always refer to local codes). If hung parallel, the maximum spacing is 16 inches on center. These framing spacings are only acceptable for half inch regular board when no water-based textures are being applied to the ceiling. If water-based textures are being applied to the ceiling, then half inch interior ceiling board or half inch lightweight drywall, such as CertainTeed® Easi-Lite™, is required. The lightweight drywall panels meet the same performance standards as interior ceiling boards as they are more resistant to sagging.

Don’t Forget to Account for Insulation

An often overlooked factor is the insulation in the ceiling. Always consider the weight of the insulation: half inch regular drywall can support 1.6 lbs. per sq. ft.; half inch lightweight wallboard and half inch interior ceiling board can support up to 2.2 lbs. per sq. ft. For reference, blown-in fiberglass insulation is approximately 0.8 lbs. per sq. ft. for an R-49 insulation value, while loose fill cellulose is a little over 2 lbs. per sq. ft. for an R-49 value.

Have installation questions about these or any of our products? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

Plus, looking for more drywall tips from the pros? Learn how to select the right finish for the right walls.

Updated: April 2021

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For a basic project in zip code 47474 with 500 square feet, the cost to Hang Sheetrock starts at $2.01 – $2.55 per square foot*. Actual costs will depend on job size, conditions, and options.

To estimate costs for your project:

1. Set Project Zip Code Enter the Zip Code for the location where labor is hired and materials purchased.

2. Specify Project Size and Options Enter the number of “square feet” required for the project.

3. Re-calculate Click the “Update” button.

NOTE: *Input the total of the finished surface area AND the area of any openings enclosed by the finished area.

Unit Costs: How Pros Price

Unlike websites which blend pricing from dissimilar jobs, Homewyse creates custom estimates from Unit Costs. The Unit Cost method is based on job specific detail and current costs. Contracting, trade, design and maintenance businesses rely on the Unit Cost method for transparency, accuracy and fair profits.

Cost to Hang Sheetrock – Notes and General Information

These estimates are for BASIC work performed in serviceable conditions by qualified trade professionals using MID GRADE materials. Work not mentioned on this page and/or work using master craftsman, premium materials and project supervision will result in HIGHER COSTS!

These estimates are NOT substitutes for written quotes from trade professionals. Homewyse strongly recommends that you contact reputable professionals for accurate assessments of work required and costs for your project – before making any decisions or commitments.

The cost estimate includes:

  • Costs for local material / equipment delivery to and service provider transportation to and from the job site.
  • Costs to prepare the worksite for Sheetrock Hanging, including costs to protect existing structure(s), finishes, materials and components.
  • Labor setup time, mobilization time and minimum hourly charges that are commonly included for small Sheetrock Hanging jobs.

The cost estimate does NOT include:

  • Costs for removing, relocating, repairing, or modifying existing framing, surfacing, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems – or bringing those systems into compliance with current building codes.
  • Costs for testing and remediation of hazardous materials (asbestos, lead, etc).
  • General contractor overhead and markup for organizing and supervising the Sheetrock Hanging. Add 13% to 22% to the total cost above if a general contractor will supervise this project.
  • Sales tax on materials and supplies.
  • Permit or inspection fees (or portion thereof) required by your local building department for your overall project.

References – Sheetrock Hanging

  • Product and Supplies Data: Menards Drywall Products and Supplies Menards, Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Home Depot Drywall Products and Supplies Home Depot, Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Lowes Drywall Products and Supplies Lowes , Apr 2021, Website
  • Product and Supplies Data: Drywall Product and Supplies Catalog Do It Best, Apr 2021, Website
  • The Building Estimator’s Reference Book , Mar 2012,
  • Carpentry and Building Construction, Student Text Glencoe/McGraw-Hill; 6th edition, Jan 2003, Mark Feirer, John Feirer, ISBN 007822702X
  • Home Improvement 1-2-3: Expert Advice from The Home Depot Homer, TLC, Apr 2021, Editorial Staff, ISBN 696213273

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Skill Level

Start to Finish

Tools

  • carpenter’s pencil
  • stud finder
  • utility knife
  • T-square
  • tape measure
  • drywall bit
  • keyhole saw
  • power drill

Materials

  • 1/4″ drywall
  • drywall screws
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Step 1

How to hang sheetrock

How to hang sheetrock

DSEQ109_1a_measure

DSEQ109_1b_transfer

Take Measurements

With the existing drywall still in place, measure and mark all the studs. Next, measure the existing outlet holes and light switches (Image 1).

Transfer these measurements to the drywall with a drywall T-square (Image 2).

Drywall Hanging Tips:

  • Measure, mark and cut each drywall panel as you go as opposed to cutting the panels all at once.
  • Always hang your drywall sheets perpendicular to the framing.
  • Space drywall screws 12-16″ apart to comply with building codes.
  • Quarter-inch drywall is thinner than regular drywall and requires extra care to prevent breakage.

Step 2

Cut the Holes

Cut the holes with a keyhole saw, starting the hole at the corner of the mark with a small drill bit.

Pro Tip

Starting a pilot hole with a small drill bit in the drywall helps with any needed cuts.

Installing drywall corner bead is a step that will require some basic carpentry skills and experience. It is a simple process but the fact that this installation is so simple means that many do not go through it the right way. The installation of a bead as the starting point for drywall corner pieces is often seen as the hardest part of installing your own drywall. However if you follow the right steps then it should be a easy as can be and you should be able to install your drywall in no time at all.

Step 1: Gather The Tools You’ll Need

The first thing that you will have to do in learning how to install drywall corner bead is to get the right tools out. You are going to need tin snips, a utility knife, screwdriver, nails, drywall trowel, rubber mallet and drill. These are the main tools that you will be using when installing your bead so make sure that you have them gathered and ready to go before you begin. The best way to find out what tools you will need is to ask the person at your local home improvement center. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need to get started.

These are some of the basic things that you will need to know when learning how to install drywall. You will want to make sure that you have all the necessary tools and supplies before you begin. It is a good idea to purchase a tape measure so that you will be able to properly measure the area that you are going to install the bead. It may take you a few tries to master how to install drywall corner bead but in the end it will be worth the extra time. When you finish your project, you will be glad that you took the time to learn how to install drywall corner bead.

Step 2: Attaching The Corner Bead

One of the most important things that a person should know when learning how to install drywall corner bead is that the corner part of the bead must face into your wall (see this page for instructions on installing round drywall corners). You cannot put one of these outside corner beads on the opposite side of your wall as it will not hold. Next you will have to cut the bead with the tin snips to just the length that the bead needs to be. Once the length is cut, you can nail it onto the corner. The video below provides easy-to-follow visual instructions.

Installing drywall corner beads can be a lot of fun for anyone who has basic skills. As long as you follow the tips above and the video below you should have no problems completing the task. If you are still unsure of how to install drywall corner bead, don’t feel bad about asking someone else to help you out. There are many people who will gladly help you get the information that you need to get the installation done right.

Step 3: Mudding The Corner Bead

The last thing that you will have to know how to install drywall corner bead is how to apply the joint compound. That is a skill that takes time and practice to develop.

How to hang sheetrock

GeorgePeters / Getty Images

Unlike other home remodeling trades, such as electrical work or plumbing which require precision and exact compliance with certain standards, hanging drywall is a more forgiving activity, with no 100% right way to do it. Hanging drywall becomes something of an art form, and different professionals develop their own techniques for doing the work quickly and effectively. These tips, secrets, hints, and hacks can be very useful to DIYers.

Here are six tips from the pros that will make your DIY work go faster and produce better results.

Make Sure Framing Is Level, Plumb, and Flat

If the plane of a wall or ceiling is not flat from stud to stud or ceiling joist to ceiling joist—or if individual studs or joists are warped—the drywall panels will bow when they are attached, leading to a finished wall or ceiling with peculiar contours or even cracks. Before hanging panels, use a long straightedge and level to verify that the wall and ceiling members are flat, plumb, and level. This may require planing down framing members that extend out too far or shimming out others. But getting the wall and ceiling planes level, plumb, and flat is essential for a perfect drywall job.

Install Drywall Panels Horizontally

While pros typically install drywall panels vertically in commercial settings, they normally install them horizontally in residential construction. Installing panels horizontally means there will be fewer seams to finish. In many rooms, using 12-foot-long drywall panels means there will be no vertical seams at all—only a single horizontal seam between each pair of panels. And from an engineering standpoint, horizontal installation of the drywall increases the strength of the wall structure.

Mark the Position of Studs on the Ceiling and Floor

Before beginning installation, use light pencil marks to register the on-center positions of the wall studs on the ceiling and floor. This will make it easier to run rows of drywall screws down along the studs when securing them. Many pros snap a quick chalk line across the panels between the ceiling and floor marks, then drive drywall screws every 16 inches down the stud. Make sure to keep the line faint, or wipe it off after completing the work, to keep it from bleeding through the paint job.

Cut Panels by Snapping

The trick to cutting drywall length-wise is to first score one side of the board with a utility knife, then go to the backside and crack the panel with your knee. If you hit it in the right spot, it will easily separate right along the scored line. With the panel folded along the scored line, use the utility knife to slice down along the fold from the opposite side to complete the cut.

Use the Right Screws—and Drive Them Correctly

Pros take pains to use the right drywall screws—which means screws with coarse threads rather than fine threads. And make sure the length is correct—for standard 1/2-inch-thick drywall, use 1 1/4-inch-long screws. Coarse screws drive easier and have better holding power than fine-thread screws.

Make sure the screw heads do not puncture through the paper face of the panels. The fluted head of the screws should sightly dimple the paper so they are recessed below the face, but if the paper tears or the screw heads puncture through into the gypsum core, the screw loses its holding power. If this happens, drive a new screw adjacent to the failed one.

After driving all screws, run your hand or the head of the hammer over all surfaces where screws are driven. Even the smallest protrusion can ruin the finish, so if you find bumps or protrusions, cut away the paper and fill the dimple with drywall compound.

By the way, pros almost never use drywall nails when hanging panels, preferring screws driven in with a power drywall gun. If you want to hang drywall like a pro, give up your drywall nails and learn how to use drywall screws.

Use the Tools Preferred by Pros

If you have a lot of drywall to hang or must work alone, it can be especially useful to employ the tools that pros use. Most are available for rent at big home improvement centers or tool lease outlets.

How to hang sheetrock

One of the fastest ways to cover old, damaged, or cracked plaster walls is to hang drywall over them. Using 1/4-inch sheets, you can cover old imperfections without adding too much additional finish work. But before you decide to go buy a stack of drywall, let’s take a little closer look at a few of the circumstances where this may be more beneficial than trying to repair the existing walls.

Drywall Over Damaged Plaster

If you have cracked plaster, you can try to repair it. It is possible for an unskilled homeowner to repair the cracks, but to get a seamless look that mirrors the original wall, you will probably need to find a professional who specializes in floating plaster walls. One of the reasons that many people choose to simply hang drywall over a damaged plaster wall is because these plaster professionals are expensive, and they are getting more expensive as there are fewer and fewer of them. If you want to preserve the integrity of an old home and can afford the hourly rate, by all means have them redone—but if you just want a clean look that you can do yourself, hanging new drywall may be the best solution.

Drywall Over Paneling

How to hang sheetrock

There are several ways to deal with paneling. 35 years ago, wooden paneling was a very popular product used to finish interior living spaces. It was often dark and created a very warm living space that was complimented by earthy colored carpets and furniture. That trend—thankfully, some would say—has moved on. However, if you are stuck with walls covered in dark paneling, there are a few options available to catapult you into the 21st century. One is to simply paint the paneling. Make sure you prime it first because the paint won’t stick very well to the slick, laminated paneling surface. The second option is to hang drywall right over the top. When finished properly, this will give you the clean smooth look that provides a pallet for the bright spaces that dominate today’s decorating styles. And unlike paint, the paneling will be totally hidden, with no grain or seams showing through.

Drywall Over Damaged Drywall

The last situation that may require you to hang new drywall is when you have tried to remove stubborn wallpaper from existing drywall. Did all the face paper of the drywall come down with the wallpaper? Do you have big brown spots that are flaking? While these can be skim coated and repaired, it is very difficult to get them looking like new, so this is a great situation in which to consider re-hanging the drywall.

Tips to Remember When Hanging Over Existing Walls

Once you have made the decision to go ahead and re-hang, there are just a few simple things that you need to remember before you start.

Electrical Fixtures

How to hang sheetrock

All of your electrical outlets and light switch boxes are now going to be 1/4-inch too short. They were installed so that they would fit flush with the original wall, but now you are making the wall 1/4-inch thicker. No need to panic. You can buy extensions for these boxes at your local home improvement store, and they aren’t difficult to install.

Door Jambs and Windowsills

Another feature of your house that will need to be extended is the jambs of the doors and windows that are on the wall you are re-hanging. The same principle applies as with the electrical boxes. You can buy extensions in the molding section of your local home improvement store and cut them to the length you need once you get them home.

The biggest challenge, especially if you have stained woodwork, will be getting the jamb extensions to match the original jambs when you stain them. You might consider removing a small piece of your woodwork and taking it to the store with you so you can get an accurate match.

Molding and Trim

How to hang sheetrock

The last thing to remember before beginning is that your baseboards, chair rails, and crown moldings will have to be removed and re-cut. If you are careful when removing them, there is no reason why you can’t re-use them. You just need to keep in mind that for every wall you re-hang, the perimeter of the room gets 1/4-inch smaller, and the trim pieces will have to be trimmed down accordingly before you can reattach them.

Studs

Hanging new drywall over existing walls is very similar to hanging drywall in a new construction setting. The most notable difference is that you can’t see the studs to know where to put your screws. If you’re willing to spend the money, you can solve this problem by buying a stud finder and marking where it detects studs after you put up the drywall. If you can’t find a reputable stud finder or don’t want to spend the money, you can also combat this problem by making small marks on the ceiling beforehand that designate the location of the vertical studs. Do what you need to do as far as marking up the wall underneath since you will soon be covering it up anyway. This process is relatively simple with walls that are paneled because you can actually see the original nail holes with the naked eye. Just follow the holes to the ceiling and make a mark. If you don’t have paneling, you can usually assume that there is 16 inches between the studs, but it is a good idea to find a stud, measure it off in both directions, and then test to see where the next one is. This will save you a lot of headache after you have started hanging your new pieces.

Go take a look at the room you want to redo. A quick assessment should help you figure out if you want to repair what you have, or re-hang the room. Either way, start making a plan. Projects like these can work wonders as you seek to update your living space and increase the value and appearance of your home.