Drywall for the Garage Workshop: Part 1
by Patrick Harper - Blood, Sweat, and Sawdust
This is my first time hanging drywall and it ain’t easy doing it by yourself.
My ceilings are over 8 feet high. So, I purchased 9′ sheets, and hung the drywall vertically. This way, I will avoid as much necessary work as possible. Now that I’ve hung 10 sheets all by myself, I have a few tips and lessons I’d like to share for the first time drywaller.
Use the Right Tools for the Job
If you were to buy only two tools for hanging drywall, I would suggest a good razor knife and drywall square. The razor knife is pivotal for getting crisp lines and the drywall square makes cutting sheets to length easy.
The easiest way to do this, is to lay the sheet horizontally on the ground. Hold the square against the top edge with your hand. Use your foot to hold the bottom of the square against your sheet. Now, just run your knife along the square and break at the cut. With the break folded back, you can run your knife along the fold to release it. Always cut from the show face of your sheet.
The other tool I found extremely useful was the drywall gun. It looks like your average screw driver, but it has a few added features. First, it uses an adjustable dimpler which prevents you from driving screws too deep. You want your screws just below the paper. The other important feature is that the head won’t engage until you put pressure on it. This allows you to lock the trigger for speed and keeps you from stripping screws once they reach the desired depth.
I picked up the bare tool for just over $100. Since I saved around $700 doing the job myself, this was an easy decision. If you can’t afford the screw gun, invest in a set of cheap dimpler bits. You can usually get four for just a few bucks.
A drywall saw and drywall rasp are also useful and inexpensive.
Measure Right Twice, and Cut Right Once
What good is measuring twice if you measure twice incorrectly?
Pay extra attention to the first sheet you hang. You don’t want to have to trim a sheet after it’s already been cut to size. Your sheets should butt together tightly. A large gap can make it difficult to secure the edge of a sheet to the stud. Be extra careful with your receptacle boxes. Misplacing one, could ruin an entire sheet.
Minimize Work by Working Smart
I hung my drywall vertically, because this allowed me to maintain tapered edges for all of my seams. Mudding and taping tapered edges is easier than butted edges.
Since I will run trim at the bottom of my walls, I maintained a half-inch gap. I did this by using a piece of scrap to support each sheet when screwing them to the wall. I was also able to use the scrap to measure the height of my electrical boxes.
Another great tip I discovered involved the drywall square. I could measure the sides of each electrical box from the previous sheet and mark them on the square with a pencil. Then I could transfer the measurement directly to the sheetrock.
With the sheetrock hung, I am looking forward to getting it all taped and mudded. Stay tuned.
For the rest of the workshop build, check out the garage workshop build index.
Did you find it difficult to hold the sheet flat and square against the wall while getting those first few screws set? Any tricks you developed for handling this?
Also, good tip about the drywall gun…my regular screw gun’s clutch set to the lowest setting still seems to punch right through the drywall if I’m not careful.
Brad, the first sheet on a wall is definitely the most difficult. It can be a little tricky, but I found a drywall lift to be very helpful in doing this myself. It’s just a little lever you operate with your foot. It costs about $10.