Drywall Construction Techniques
Techniques and tricks used in drywall construction are helpful, especially for beginners or do-it-yourselfers. Even unskilled homeowners can learn a little about the process and enjoy a much less troublesome experience. The techniques learned here start with the storage and preparation for hanging. From there, joints and hanging methods are covered followed by finishing procedures.
Storage and Preparation
First of all, drywall needs to be stored laying in flat stacks, not up against the wall on its sides. The reason for this is so that you do not damage the edges. The gypsum core of drywall crumbles easily especially with undue stress placed on it. Before you begin to hang the drywall, make an assessment of the quality and arrangement of the stud placement of a room. A well-framed room will have studs spaced exactly 16 inches on center. They will be perfectly plumb and parallel with each other. Measure the dimensions of the walls and ceiling to determine how many full sheets you can hang. One sheet hung vertically should extend over 3 studs or horizontally over 6.
Vertical or Horizontal
There is some debate as to which of these two hanging methods is better. If a room is exactly 8 feet from floor to ceiling, two sheets hung horizontally should fit perfectly. However, you will left with butt joints between side-by-side sheets which are harder to finish. An 8-foot ceiling height will work with vertically hung drywall too, for it comes in 4x8 foot sheets. Hung vertically, you will only have bevel joints which are easier to finish.
However you decide to do it, measure and mark the position of the studs on the drywall. Snap a chalk line where each stud will be. That way you know exactly where to insert the screws. Doing this, you can also indicate any oddly placed studs.
Joints and Hanging
The two types of joints you may encounter along a wall or ceiling are butt joints and bevel joints. Both ends of the joined sheets must be fastened to a stud. Since studs are 1½ inches wide, that means only ¾ of an inch per sheet. Make sure the sheets are plumb and run evenly along the edge of the stud. When it comes time to finish the joints with tape and mud, bevel joints are easier because they provide a recess with which to fill with mud, making the flattening out process easier.
Hanging the sheets is fairly self explanatory. Sheets need to be level and plumb. For hanging large sheets on the ceiling, use either 2x4s cut to length for support or use a drywall jack. Always start with the center of a sheet of drywall by inserting screws there first then move to the edges. Fasten screws every 6 to 8 inches along a stud. Because screws twist through the drywall and the stud, they grab better than nails. The hammering of nails also damages the drywall, so screws are advisable.
Finishing is the process of filling in every joint with drywall mud and covering it with tape. This is followed by two more coatings of mud. Each time the mud is extended farther away from the tape. The idea is to make it as smooth and flat as possible. Both tape and mud add thickness to drywall, so it requires some finesse to spread it out so it is unnoticeable. For each layer of drywall mud, use a successively bigger drywall knife. The first should be about 4 inches wide, then 6 or 8 inches, finishing with a 10-inch blade. Using all purpose compound is easiest because it works for all three coats. Don’t forget to apply mud over all screw or nail heads and smooth them out.
Hanging and finishing drywall the first time may take you longer because you are unfamiliar with the steps. With some foreknowledge, though, you can complete the job in a timely manner and be fully prepared for what to expect.