Drywall - Application

Room with drywall, tape, and mud on walls.

Drywall can be installed either vertically or horizontally. You will want to plan your installation so the least number of seams are created in the process. Use the following information to choose the size of drywall for your project and plan the application before proceeding. Remember that when two boards butt up against each other at their long edges, both must have a beveled factory edge.

Use a scraping plane or rasp on cut edges to smooth out any roughness.

When positioning the drywall panel, align the top of each panel with the ceiling edge of the angle break to assure a clean edge. To raise the panels you can make a foot fulcrum with two pieces of wood. Any gaps should fall close to the floor where a baseboard will cover them. All joints between boards should be positioned to meet over the center of a stud or rafter.

Start a couple of drywall nails at the corners and across the top of the drywall panel before you lift it into place. Once the panel is positioned, it will be easier to attach while another person holds it in place.

The best drywall nails have cupped heads which make them easier to cover when mudding and taping. Those with barbed shanks increase holding power and reduce "nail popping." Nail along the edge of the panel about every six inches, hammering the nail into the stud. In the middle of the panel, nail about every 12 inches. Check local code for a variance. It is advisable, if the studs are new wood, to double nail in the field.

Hammer each nail until it is forced slightly below the surface of the panel - this is called dimpling. Also, be careful not to ding the edge of the panel when nailing or handling. Dings require extra mudding and finishing work. If you are using drywall screws, be sure you screw them to just below the surface of the panel. But do not break the paper when you do this. If the paper is broken, drive another nail nearby to assure a good hold. It is advisable to have a special drywall hammer or a cordless electric drywall screw gun for speed and ease of handling.

Place nails in adjoining sheets directly across from each other where they meet at a stud. This makes mudding easier. If you miss the stud, pull out the nail or screw and dimple the hole so as to be able to mud and tape over it properly.

Another alternative is to glue the drywall with drywall adhesive. The glue is used in the center of the board with nails used around the edges. Follow the manufacturer's instructions when gluing. The glue avoids seams that need to be taped and finished.

As you apply the drywall, try not to leave a gap between boards more than 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch - less if possible.

If required, get your nailing pattern inspected (check local code) before covering with tape and spackling.

Cutting Drywall for Openings

cutting sheetrock to size

Applying drywall around openings like doors and windows calls for extra care and accurate cutting. Never try to fit around a large opening with just one panel. Work with two pieces about the same size, with a seam that meets in the middle over the opening.

Seams must always meet at a stud but should never occur at the edge of a door or window. The door opens and closes at this point and the seam will eventually crack from the movement. Be particularly careful not to damage the board when cutting a notch or corner.

For right angle openings, use a drywall T-square or a chalk line to mark the board for cutting. Cut the shorter length with a wallboard saw or keyhole saw. Then use a utility knife to score the longer cut. Use several light strokes with the knife to cut into the core. Position the cut over the edge of your work table and snap the panel. Finish by cleanly undercutting the paper on the backside with the utility knife. Always cut with the good side up.

To cut an opening around a window, place the panel in position and mark on the edge of the panel to indicate the top and bottom of the window opening. Measure and record the distance from the top mark to the edge of the window and from the bottom mark to the edge of the window. Use a drywall square to connect the points and make your cut accordingly.

For smaller openings like outlets, an efficient trick is to outline the opening with lipstick or colored chalk. Then fit the panel into place and give it a couple of good whacks over the outlet area. The lipstick will transfer to the back of the panel for a cutting pattern.

Cut this patch out with your keyhole saw. Take care when cutting from the backside of the panel not to tear the paper beyond the patch hole area. Use the utility knife to finish cutting through the paper on the front side of the panel.