How to Drywall a Basement Ceiling

  • 4-20 hours
  • Beginner
  • 200-750
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Utility knife
Drywall saw
Power drill
Drywall drill bit
Drywall screws
All-purpose joint compound
6, 8 and 10-inch drywall knives
Drywall tape
Drywall pan

Hanging drywall on a basement ceiling is similar to any other room. What is different, at least with most basements, is that the ceiling is considerably lower than in upper floors. The most challenging part is supporting each sheet of drywall above your head as you align it and set the screws. Consider renting a drywall jack, or enlisting the help of a friend.

Step 1 - Layout the Installation

Determine how much drywall is needed to cover the basement ceiling. Drywall is sold in 4x8-foot sheets, so measure each side of the room and calculate the area of the ceiling and the number of sheets needed to fill the space. Make a drawing of the ceiling's area and note the measurements for a visual guide. Indicate where the full sheets will go, and where you'll have to make cuts.

Step 2 - Mark Positions of Joists

Repeat this step for each full or cut sheet of drywall. Make a small mark in pencil on the wall where the ceiling joists cross over the wall. The marks should align with the center of the joists. These marks will guide you when setting the screws.

Step 3 - Prepare First Sheet

Starting in a corner, prepare the first sheet for hanging. On the visible side of the drywall, measure and mark where any cuts must be made to accommodate a fixture or where a sheet must be sized down to fit into a smaller space. If there are no cuts needed, hoist the sheet above your head and position it flush against the walls. A helper is very handy for this.

Step 4 - Secure Sheet

Using the power drill fitted with a drywall bit, set three or four drywall screws into the joists with the wall marks as your guide. Once in place, the sheet is secured. Set screws into each joist every 16-inches. Repeat steps three and four for each sheet.

Step 5 - Make Cuts

If you need to make a cut, first take all the necessary measurements and mark the lines on the drywall. Take the utility knife and cut through one layer of paper and the gypsum core, but don't cut through the drywall entirely. Once scored, fold the smaller section over to break it away from the main piece. On the opposite side, run the utility knife over the seam in the paper, which is formed when you folded the drywall over. This method enables you to make the cut cleanly.

Step 6 - Make Cuts for Fixtures

Another type of cut for a fixture such as an outlet or light is within a sheet, Take the measurements for its position and mark the full shape of the cut on the visible side of the drywall. A drywall saw is the best tool for this cut. Follow your lines. Once the cut is complete, remove the section and hang the sheet.

Step 7 - Finish the Drywall

Finishing is the last stage of any drywall job. Prepare the all-purpose compound (mud) and fill the drywall pan. Begin by using the 6-inch knife. Working one joint or seam at a time, fill it with an even layer of mud. Cover the entire seam with a length of tape, and pass over it again to set the tape in place and squeeze out excess mud.

With the 8-inch knife, cover each taped seam with a layer of mud, smoothing and fanning it out as you do. Once the mud is dry, pass each seam a second time with the 10-inch knife to cover an even wider swath. Finally, cover each screw head by smearing more mud than needed over the indentation, then scrape the excess away with the drywall knife, smoothing it at the same time.