How to Tell if You Need Vertical or Horizontal Drywall Installation

room with walls sheetrocked
  • 48-96 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-300
What You'll Need
Tape measure
Drywall screws
Drywall tape
Drywall mud
Drywall trowel

When it comes to drywall installation there are two different ways that it can be hung. Drywall comes in sheets that are the same size as plywood. They are available in 8’ x 4’ sheets to cover the largest amount of space at one time. In some cases, only a few sheets are needed to completely cover a room. The problem with drywall installation is when it comes to how the drywall is actually hung. Should it be vertically or horizontally. It depends. Here’s how to figure it out.

Step 1 - Determine Number of Joints

You should measure the room and determine how many joints will be required with either a vertical or horizontal installation. A good rule of thumb to follow is that for walls that are eight foot and two inches tall or less a horizontal application should be used. For walls with heights taller than eight feet, two inches, the vertical installation should be used.

Step 2 - Check Stud Spacing

room with sheetrocked walls

The universal spacing of wood studs in a stick built home frame is 16 inches on center. The key to the strength of the drywall installation is the least amount of joints. Checking the studs to make sure that they are at the 16 inch spacing will mean that you will have the least amount of joints with a horizontal installation. Vertical drywall installation will mean more joints in a smaller room.

Step 3 - Applying Drywall Tape

When it comes to finishing off a drywall installation, drywall tape and mud are the materials that are needed. They must be applied in a certain way in order for the wall to not only look finished, but also for strength at the seams. Most people who install drywall like to work with the tape and mud in a horizontal direction. This makes the application much easier and with the least amount of mistakes.

Step 4 - Install Drywall on Top Boards

person cutting a sheet of drywall

When applying the drywall to the wood studs it is important to start with the top boards first. This will give the most amount of coverage to the wall. Tuck the drywall up against the ceiling and use drywall screws for securing it to the studs. This applies to either vertical or horizontal installations.

Step 5 - Look at Ceiling First

Once the walls are completed you will have to determine which direction the drywall should go on the ceiling. Unlike the walls, this is an easy determination. Take a look at the ceiling and see which way the joists are running. The drywall must be installed at right angles to the joists. This means that if the joists are running north and south, the drywall is installed with the joints running east and west.

Step 6 - Use Full Sheets

In any drywall installation it is important to use as many full sheets of drywall as possible. This will not only mean more coverage for the wall, but less use of tape and mud.