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Drywalls, also known as plasterboard or wallboard, are gypsum-made panels used for the construction, renovation, and reparation of walls and ceilings. They can be installed quickly without much hassle, and have many benefits over the conventional wall system.

A wall made using drywall panels is lightweight, cost-effective, fireproof, and acts as an excellent sound insulator. Adopting the right technique to install the drywall is essential to avail its benefits.

This article lays down the step-by-step procedure to install drywall and essential tips to be followed during the process.

Materials for Dry Wall Installation

The important tools and materials required for drywall installation are:

  • Utility knife
  • Drywall saw
  • Drywall/taping knives
  • Tin snips or scissors
  • Drill or screw gun
  • Drywall panels
  • Mesh and paper drywall tape
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall screws

Steps to Install a Drywall

The general steps involved in the installation of drywall are:

  1. Selection of drywall
  2. Inspection and preparation of drywall installation site
  3. Measurement and cutting of drywall 
  4. Laying out and fixing of drywall
  5. Mudding and taping the drywall
  6. Sanding and finishing the drywall
  7. Selection of drywall for room

1. Selection of Dry Wall for Room

The drywall is selected for the interior walls by finalizing the dimension, thickness, drywall material. 

Thickness of Drywall
Thickness of Drywall

Dimension of Drywall

Typically, the size of a drywall is 4 x 8 inches, while larger panels are also available for use. The larger-sized panels are harder to work with and require professional expertise for installation. Also, the transportation of larger panels is cumbersome and demands careful handling.

Thickness of Drywall

The building code of the respective area provides the requirements for the thickness of the drywall panels. Commonly available thicknesses are ¼, ½, 3/8, and 5/8 inches. Different applications require different depth as specified by the standard codes.

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Among the three, 5/8 inch is the heaviest and the most soundproof. The 3/8 inch panels are used for covering the existing walls, whereas the 1/4 inch panels are used for curved walls and arches.

Material of Drywall

Always choose the drywall material that fits the environment where it is intended to be installed. For example, “green rock” is a type of drywall designed to increase moisture resistance in areas like garages and bathrooms.

2. Inspection and Preparation of Drywall Installation Site

The site is inspected for all unwanted elements and prepared to install the new drywall. For renovation works, the preparation involves the removal of old drywall, screws, and nails. All the unwanted elements that disrupt the laying of new drywall sheets are removed and cleated.

The preparation of the surface helps to make the drywall stay flat over the surface. Inspect the site for any moisture damage, termites, loose blocking, or other issues that can obstruct the installation. The drywall may be installed over steel studs or wooden studs. Steel studs provide more strength, are termite-proof, and fire-resistant. Drywall screws are used for installation in the case of steel studs and wooden studs.

If there are insulations provided, check for tears and damage. Tear in insulation can be fixed using kraft tape. Complete all the insulation work, before starting to hang the drywall. Any cracks or gaps on the exterior walls can be sealed using triple-expanding foam. Always choose a foam that is permanent, waterproof or water-resistant, non-shrinking, and rigid. Avoid the application of foam around the doors or windows.

3. Measurement and Cutting of Drywall 

Determine the number of studs along the wall surface, where the drywall is planned to be installed. With the help of a masking tape, moving along the floor, mark the exposed studs and their center of line using a high-visibility marker.

Take one of the drywalls and determine whether its end piece fits in with the center of a stud. If not, the drywall must be cut to obtain end pieces. 

4. Laying Out and Fixing of Drywall

The panels are mainly installed from the upper corner of the room, moving horizontally, as it helps to complete the top row first.

Drywall Installation from Left top Corner-Image Courtesy-sites.austincc.edu
Drywall Installation from Left top Corner-Image Courtesy-sites.austincc.edu

Based on the room’s dimension, a single panel may or may not fill the entire length of the room.

The drywall can be placed on the wall using a hoist. After positioning, screws or nails are driven at the ends and down to hold the panel against the stud. The intermediate strapping between the studs can be glued before installing the board.

Drywall Lifting using Hoisting-Image Courtesy: Tools First
Drywall Lifting using Hoisting-Image Courtesy: Tools First

The drywall can be installed over openings like arches, windows, and doors, which are later trimmed along the dimension of the openings. While fixing, the screws are drilled into the boundary of the opening to help avoid damage during cutting. This process of gluing, hoisting, and screwing the drywall is performed until one row of the wall is completed.

Cutting Drywall for Door Opening-Image Courtesy-familyhandyman
Cutting Drywall for Door Opening-Image Courtesy-familyhandyman

5. Mudding and Taping the Drywall

The steps involved in mudding and taping of drywall are:

  1. Prepare the drywall mud compound used to cover the seam. The first coat is directly applied to the seam. Seam must be covered entirely with the mud. It is applied using a drywall knife with a liberal amount of mud on it.
  2. Put drywall tape over the seam. The tape must be flattened using a drywall knife. Start the tape at one end of the seam and pull it towards in a single motion. For corner seams, use a corner tool.
  3. The excess mud on the surface of the tape is wiped off, and a smooth flattened seam is obtained. Some experts can bring a smooth seam without using a tape or fiberglass.
  4. Apply a minimum of 2-3 coats using a slightly wider putty knife. The mud layer must dry between each coat.
  5. Apply the swipe coat over the screws so that the edges are not identified. Any imperfections in the drywall can be cleared by screeding some mud over it.
  6. Repeat the steps for each joint.
Mudding and Taping Drywall Joints
Mudding and Taping Drywall Joints

6. Sanding and Finishing a Drywall

The steps involved are:

  1. Start using a pole sander to sand wall surfaces that are hard to reach. Do not overdo as mud is easily sanded, and too much sanding exposes the underlying surface.
  2. A handheld drywall sander can be used to sand rest portions of the walls.
  3. Use a handheld light and look for small imperfections or flaws. Any defect is circled with a pencil and later sanded using a sponge sander.
  4. Prime the entire wall and repeat the sanding process very lightly using a pole sander. This provides a nice and smooth finish.
Sanding Walls-Image Courtesy: The Family Handy Man
Sanding Walls-Image Courtesy: The Family Handy Man

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the tools required to install a drywall?

The important tools and Materials Required for drywall installation are:
Utility knife
Drywall saw
Drywall/taping knives
Tin snips or scissors
Drill or screw gun
Drywall panels
Mesh and paper drywall tape
Joint compound
Drywall screws

Where do you start from when hanging drywall?

The panels are mainly installed from the upper corner of the room, which moves horizontally. It helps to complete the top row first. 

What thickness drywall is used for walls?

The building code of the respective area provides the requirements for the thickness of the drywall panels. Commonly available thicknesses are ¼, ½, 3/8, and 5/8 inches. Different applications require different depth as specified by the standard codes.
Among the three, 5/8 inch is the heaviest and the most soundproof. The 3/8 inch panels are used for covering the existing walls, whereas the 1/4 inch panels are used for curved walls and arches.

Read More:

  1. Precast Concrete Walls- Connections and Structural Actions
  2. Precast Concrete Walls, floor and Frames

Neenu Arjun

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