I have been constructing residential and commercial buildings for more than 20 years. This line of work has exposed me to trade skills from many different tradesman, builders, and contractors. Of all the trades that I've worked with, drywall has been one of the toughest to master. It takes brute strength, lots of experience -- and in my opinion, professional help.
My drywall disaster
In the 1990s when I first began subcontracting jobs from my father and other general contractors around Florida, I had the opportunity to install drywall in a garage. At the time, I figured it would be easy enough; that it would be similar to plywood and I had plenty of experience with that material. Wow, was I ever wrong. I butchered cuts, smashed corners, created gaps, and missed studs with screws. Before long, I had all the drywall hung... but I also had a ratty job that not only looked bad, it made it nearly impossible to finish, which quickly ate up all my profits. I vowed to never again hang drywall.
My drywall epiphany
Years later, I had the chance to try another drywall job -- but this time, I hired help. A well-experienced drywall finisher friend of mine agreed to help me learn the basics of drywall hanging. He taught me that there are three key elements to successfully hanging drywall.
- Use this essential equipment. Hanging drywall takes a strong back and an even stronger friend to help. The first step to hanging drywall is to set the ceiling boards in place. This can easily become a back-breaking and dangerous job if you don't use a drywall lift. A mechanical drywall lift allows heavy materials to be safely hoisted to the ceiling and secured without dangling precariously from your step ladder with a screw gun in one hand and a 200-pound sheet of drywall in the other.
- Cut the drywall with confidence. Cutting drywall is easy when you follow this basic protocol. Use a T-square to align and better control cuts. Scribing through the front of the paper allows you to snap the board easily and cleanly from the back. Once the board is folded to a 90-degree angle, you can smoothly cut through the back piece of paper for the perfect cut. Don't mind rough edges. Use a drywall rasp to make a smooth and professional joint that fits together perfectly. When making cuts, ensure each of the factory edges butt against each other for a smooth and consistent finish every time.
- Start at the top and work your way down. By hanging the ceilings first, the top boards on the walls next, and then the bottom boards last, you can better seal the gaps that can otherwise require excessive joint compound and time to dry. You'll also leave a small gap at the bottom so that trim boards and flooring materials fit just right. If walls are taller than 8 feet, leave the small rip in the middle of two full sheets so that when you tape and finish the seam, you won't have to bend over as far.
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