How to Hang Drywall in Your Basement

A man smooths drywall.
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 600-1,200
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Carpenter's pencil
Drywall screws
Drywall saw
Utility knife
Power drill
Drywall jack (optional)
Drywall knives
Joint compound
Drywall tape

If you're wondering how to hang drywall in a basement, look no further. As with other rooms in the home, finishing a basement involves a step-by-step process of measuring and hanging sheets of drywall, making any necessary cuts as you go. You will be applying drywall compound and tape to cover the seams and corners, as well as to cover screw heads and any other blemishes as the final steps. Follow these steps to hang drywall in your basement.

Step 1 - Prepare

Preparing a room for hanging drywall mostly involves calculating the total area of the walls and ceiling, determining the number of full 4x8-foot sheets you'll need, and laying-out the installation.

Typically, you should use .5-inch drywall on both the walls and ceiling. If there is a basement bathroom, you'll need moisture-resistant drywall. It may help to draw a visual guide with measurements so that you know where you can hang full sheets and where you'll need to cut.

Step 2 - Start with the Walls

Start with the walls. Ceilings in basements are seldom 8-feet high, so you'll have to cut the sheets to fit. After measuring and drawing the line, cuts are made by scoring one side with a utility knife, folding the smaller section over to break the gypsum completely, then cutting through the paper cleanly on the opposite side.

Step 3 - Hanging the Drywall

Measure the distance between each wall stud. If done properly, it should be 16-inches on center. On the outside of the drywall, measure and mark where the sheet will contact the studs. Start in a corner and align the top edge with the header and the vertical edge with the adjacent wall. Set drywall screws into each stud 16-inches apart. Repeat to cover each wall. Make cuts where needed to fit into smaller spaces.

Step 4 - Do the Ceiling

Once the walls are complete, hang drywall on the ceiling. Mark the center position of the ceiling joists on the walls directly below as a guide. Holding each sheet above your head, secure it with a few screws, rest your arms, then set screws every 16-inches into each joist. Cut sheets to size as needed in the same manner. Consider a drywall jack to support the sheets while you set the screws.

Step 5 - Work Around Fixtures

For wall or ceiling fixtures like outlets, switches, or lights, it's easiest to cut sections in sheets. Determine the position of each fixture on each sheet, mark the shape on the drywall, and cut it using a drywall saw. If you measured correctly, when you hang the sheet, it should fit right over the fixture.

Step 6 - Finish

All-purpose drywall compound works best for do-it-yourselfers. Smear compound over each seam and follow it with a length of drywall tape. Run the knife over it to set the tape and squeeze out any excess.

Smear compound over every screw head, each of which should form an indentation in the drywall. Cover any holes or other blemishes. Smooth it out. Follow up over each seam by smearing a second layer of compound over the tape with a wider knife, fanning it out and smoothing it as you do.

You can add a third coat and a skim coat over the entire surface if you want perfectly finished drywall before you add paint or wallpaper.