Cutting Drywall: 6 Tips

Cutting drywall looks pretty straight forward but if it isn’t done properly, it can make a mess of your entire home renovation project. Having the proper tools and getting the cut right the first time will save you time, money and frustration. Following these common sense tips will help you make sure you cut your drywall to fit with as little material waste as possible.

Proper Tools

Like any home renovation project, having the right tools will make cutting drywall that much easier. Before you get started make sure you have the following: tape measure, pencil, T-square, utility knife, 4-foot straight edge, drill, and either a jigsaw or a keyhole saw. Drywall edges can crumble easily, so you do not want to over power them with cutting tools. A circular saw may be a faster alternative, but it will leave your cut edges ragged and hard to join. Using an utility knife will give you clean edges that are easy to tape and mud.

Know the Front and Back

Drywall may come in flat sheets, but there is a definite front and back that you don’t want to confuse. You will notice each side of the drywall is a different shade of grey, the lighter side is the front, as it is easier to paint. You can also tell the front side of your sheet of drywall as the edges will be slightly recessed, this allows for tape to be flush, making for seamless joints.

Measure Twice—Cut Once

It’s an old handyman’s saying that may seem to take extra time, but the few seconds used to make sure you do the job right the first time will mean not having to do the job twice. Take all measurements carefully, remembering to write them down. Home renovations are rarely square, so measure both ends of your cut to allow for any changes from top to bottom. This is especially important for cut-outs, where you want to avoid covering an outlet or having a hole in the middle of your wall.

Lay It Out

If you have enough room, lay the sheet of drywall face down in front of where it will be placed. You could also stand it up beside its location. Laying the drywall out will allow you to visualize the cuts you need to make, giving you a general idea of where cut-outs should be made.

Score and Knock

Once you’ve marked your measurements on the drywall use your straight edge and utility knife to score halfway through the material. You will need to run your exact knife 3 or 4 times along the same line. Carefully lift the sheet of drywall and supporting it on both sides of the score mark, knock along the opposite side of your cut. The drywall will snap a clean line along your cut, the two pieces being held together with the paper covering. Run your utility knife along the seam of the cut to finish your work.


There are 2 options when it comes to cutting out holes in the middle of a drywall sheet for electrical boxes or plumbing. Once you have marked your measurements you can drill a hole and use a jigsaw to cut out the space needed. You can also use a keyhole saw, which pokes through the drywall and works like a handsaw. Remember to cut a hole smaller than you need; you can always make the hole bigger, but not smaller.