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How to Hang Sheetrock or Drywall

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How to Hang Sheetrock

Sheetrock, the brand name for United States Gypsum Co. gypsum wallboard product, is also called "drywall". The terms "drywall" and Sheetrock are synonymous, much in the same way as you may hear Crescent Wrench or "adjustable wench". Depending on the part of the country you are in, Professional Installers may use either or both terms. A drywall company may be needed if you're in over your head or find you need professional help. Hanging drywall is still considered a job for big strong men. But given a few guidelines and some information, hanging drywall can be accomplished by just about anyone. In a very real sense, it is not unlike hanging wallpaper. The biggest problem lies in the sheer size and bulk of the pieces. Not only do they weight about 40 lbs. each, but their size is unwieldy and awkward.


Remove the old drywall (unless you are starting fresh and there is no old drywall). The old drywall will need to be pried from the studs and ceiling joists with a crowbar or other instrument (often the hands once you get started), being very careful not to connect with any electrical or other wiring under the drywall.
Make a thorough job of clearing up the mess. When it comes time to install the new drywall, little pieces left over from the old walls and ceiling will get in your way and make the job more difficult. This would be a good time to pull out the shop vac and run it along the bottom edge of the walls. A broom works well too.
Remove all nails and/or screws from the exposed studs and ceiling joists or the new pieces won't fit flat. They can either be removed or hammered into the wood studs. (It is best to remove them so you don't hit them with the new nails or screws you will be putting in later.)
Purchase the drywall. Visit your local home improvement warehouse. Drywall is sold in multiple sizes: 4' x 8', 4' x 10' and 4' x 12' are the most common. The 4' x 8' is the easiest to handle and works well for most jobs. 4.5' width sheets are also available at commercial supply houses. It costs just a few dollars per sheet for the 1/2" thickness (this is the average thickness which works well for most uses). Haul it home FLAT (like in the bed of a pick up truck) so that it doesn't break or bend. If you must store the sheets for more than a few days, store them flat and on top of each other so they don't warp or get their corners broken.
Assemble your tools and supplies. Very few tools are needed to hang drywall. You will need a utility knife and spare blades, a hammer (or drywall drill if you will be screwing the sheets to the wall), a VERY straight edge for cutting and measuring (they make drywall T-squares just for this), and plenty of special drywall nails or screws. Drywall can be installed using nails or screws. With nails you end up making larger "divots" because the hammer face is large. These are easily filled later, but require just a little more patience at the time of taping. Screws are the "instrument-of-choice" for professionals these days.
Hang the toughest part first-the ceiling. The order of hanging the drywall matters. This is a two or three person job if you haven't rented a drywall "lifter" which lifts the pieces straight up by hydraulics and all you do is nail or screw the pieces to the joists. If you don't have this machine, it will take two people to hold the piece up on the ceiling while another screws or nails it in place. (Building two "T-shaped" supports out of studs will help with this job. Just nail together two pieces of wood into a "T" shape, building one for each end of the drywall you will be supporting. Make it about two or three inches less than the ceiling height so you'll have room to work. Once the drywall is lifted by hand, these contraptions can be slid in under the drywall to support it on the ceiling while you nail or screw it up.)
Start on the walls once the ceiling is completed. The drywall should be hung horizontally, which might sound more difficult than vertically, but isn't really. Hang the top piece first. Butt it up to the piece on the ceiling and nail or screw. Again, this will probably take more than one person to do.
Butt the bottom sheets up to the top pieces on the walls that you have just hung.
Continue around the room until complete.
Read up on taping and texturing, the next step.


Ask lots of questions at the store where you purchase your supplies. Most salespeople are more than willing to share what they know and give timesaving tips.
Know the rules. It is important to obtain a copy of your county's "code" book. They are very specific about which direction drywall must run, how far apart the nails or screws must be, what types of drywall must be used (there is special water-resistant drywall used in bathrooms). If the job is not done to "code" it is possible for the county to come in later and ask you to remove the work or charge you fines for non-compliance. And, the "code" guidelines are there because they create the most efficient and strongest completed project.
When hanging the pieces, be sure that the ends stop and start in different locations. So, if you hang the first piece and it ends in about the middle of the ceiling span, you want to use a shorter piece for the next row so that it stops somewhere else from where its neighbor did.
Watch your terrain. Don't forget that you will have to cut holes for receptacles, switches, light fixtures, windows and doors. Measure them out just as you would on wallpaper and cut them out (at least roughly) before you hang the piece. You can finish is up exactly after the piece has been installed.
When hanging drywall , it is important to have as few little pieces as possible which will make your life easier later. So, when working with windows, try to start with a whole sheet and cut OUT for the window instead of cutting small pieces to fit around the window.
The gaps between seams might appear HUGE to you, and you may wonder if you will ever be able to make the very rough hanging job look like beautiful walls once you get to the taping, texturing and painting part (that's another story). Amazingly, it all comes together during the taping procedure, which hides just about anything-even really big gaps or deep dents from nail or screw holes.
Still not confident enough to try it? Contact a drywall hanger and ask to spend an afternoon watching their crew work. Buy a book. Attend a workshop at the local home improvement warehouse.
If you can hang wallpaper, you can hang drywall. Really.


It is a good idea to shut off the main power supply when removing drywall as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell where the wiring runs behind existing walls.
Be sure to wear a face mask which can be purchased from any home improvement or hardware store. The removal of old drywall is a dusty and dirty job and could put particles into the air that are best left unbreathed.

Things You'll Need

a utility knife and spare blades
a hammer (or drywall drill if you will be screwing the sheets to the wall)
a VERY straight edge for cutting and measuring (they make drywall T-squares just for this)
plenty of special drywall nails or screws. Drywall can be installed using nails or screws. Screws are the "instrument-of-choice" for professionals.