Drywall, otherwise known as gypsum board or wallboard, is the material used for walls and ceilings inside homes and buildings. Drywall is made up of gypsum, water, and thick paper that covers both sides of it to create the flat surface that is primed for paint or wallpaper. Our drywall guide below will help you tackle all of your drywall projects and problems.
Types of Drywall
There are a variety of drywall types to choose from depending on the needs for your specific home and your budget.
Here are some of the drywall options out there:
This is the basic drywall with no frills or special features. This is a good fit for rooms that are not vulnerable to high humidity or moisture levels.
Instead of paper, this drywall has fiberglass on the outside of it. Fiberglass does not absorb water so it is another great water-resistant option for spaces high in humidity and moisture.
Water-resistant additives in the paper portion of this drywall make it the best choice for rooms with a lot of water intrusion including bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
On the back side of this type of drywall is a polystyrene layer that helps keep heat in the space, which is why a garage is a place you might consider this option for.
There is a special coating on this type of drywall to protect against mold growth.
A foil layer on the back side of this type of drywall makes it a good option for cold climates.
This type of drywall is not as flammable as the above versions and it is recommended, and often required, for use in garages and utility rooms.
Sound-reducing additives in this drywall help to block noise from traveling through it. Uses for this include walls in apartment and condo buildings. The drywall prices for these types with special features can be much higher than standard panels.
Sheets of drywall typically come in the following thickness options: 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, and 5/8 inch. The most common thicknesses used are 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch, but the type chosen depends on the circumstances of the job.
For example, thicker sheets are needed if there are larger spaces between studs or joists.
Here is when you may use each thickness:
This kind is usually used in addition to another layer of drywall to add stability or smoothness. It is too thin to use alone.
A very common type of drywall used for walls, it is also a popular choice for repairs and cover ups. It is not a great choice for ceilings as it does not stand up well against sagging.
This is the most common drywall used for walls and ceilings.
Any of the above drywall options that have added features such as fire-resistance or water-resistance are most likely 5/8 inch thick.
Drywall cost depends on a lot of factors including thickness, height, and any added features such as fire-resistance, but typically drywall costs between $12 and $35 per panel before labor charges are added.
These drywall prices reflect a standard panel of drywall. Standard drywall panels are 4 feet wide and 8 feet tall, however height options can reach up to 16 feet tall. To find the lowest price, it is best to compare prices from a few different drywall companies.
Drywall Installation Cost
The two different phases of installing drywall are first hanging the drywall and then finishing the drywall. When looking at the general installation process as a whole, drywall installation costs typically run around $1.50 per square foot on average.
As always there are many factors that can cause this price to fluctuate higher or lower including the size of the room, complexity of the project, location, among other aspects specific to the job.
The estimate given to you by your drywall contractor should include the following:
Drywall prices and cost of other materials (should include type of drywall being used and measurements)
Preparation costs (covering and protecting items near the job site)
Clean up costs
Additional overhead costs (transportation to site, etc.)
When all of the additional factors are taken into account for the final drywall installation cost, the price can reach up to around $60 per drywall panel.
Tools Needed for Drywall Installation
If you are attempting to install drywall yourself or if you are simply curious about what professionals will be using in your home during your drywall installation, below are tools needed for hanging and finishing drywall:
Drywall screws and nails
Protective gear: safety glasses and mask
Drywall joint compound
How to Hang Drywall
Hanging drywall is a tedious process that requires careful measuring and attention to detail.
WHETHER YOU ARE DOING IT YOURSELF OR IF YOU ARE SIMPLY CURIOUS WHAT YOUR DRYWALL CONTRACTOR AND THEIR TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS WILL DO IN YOUR HOME, HERE’S A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR HOW TO HANG DRYWALL:
Cover all electrical lines and pipes with nail protector plates so that you do not accidentally drill into them.
Pre-cut your drywall panels so that they measure out perfectly to fit the room. Use a rasp to smooth out any rough edges along the drywall from your cutting. If you would like to cut the pieces as you go, that is appropriate as well. It is recommended that pieces get cut 1/4 inch short to avoid forcing the panels into place.
You can cut holes for outlets, windows, and doors as you go. For windows and doors, you should first cover them with the top row of panels and then use a drywall saw to cut out the spaces. Then cover them with the bottom row of panels and cut those spaces out.
You do not want drywall seams to be at the corners of doors or windows, because they will easily crack. Instead you want the seems centered above them (as well as below for windows).
Apply adhesive along the studs where the top row of drywall panels will go. Line up the first drywall panel horizontally so it is firmly against the ceiling then nail it into place on the studs. You will work high to low during this process, first screwing in the drywall around the ceiling then moving down to the lower row along the floor.
Mark the studs and screw the panels into them. Be careful not to cover the entire stud with one panel, because you will need room on it for the next panel that you put up alongside it.
There should be about 16” between each screw on the panel in the middle of the room and about 8” along the corners of the room on the joints. Make sure they are at least 3/8 inch away from the very edge of the panel.
When it is time to move on to the lower row of drywall panels, use a foot lift to ensure that drywall remains a half an inch off of the floor. One big reason for this is to protect your drywall from moisture, which can rise up a drywall panel very quickly and cause a lot of water damage and sometimes mold growth. This is particularly important in areas like the basement where flooding is extremely common.
You can later cover this open space with baseboards. Another thing to consider for the bottom row of drywall panels is that you will want to stagger vertical joints so they are not lined up perfectly with the panels above them.
how to finish drywall
After the drywall hanging is complete, the next step is drywall finishing. This process can take many tries to master, which is why this phase of the installation process is when most people prefer to hire a drywall contractor for the job.
Here is how to finish drywall:
Apply the compound to any outside corners, then cover them with corner bead, and run your knife along the edges as you did with the inside corners.
Cover the walls with primer. This is the final stage in preparing them for paint or wallpaper. Later when you want to hang shelves or pictures, drywall anchors can be used to help hold screws into the drywall.
After your drywall job is complete, what do you do if you accidentally leave a dent or hole in the drywall?
Here is how to patch any drywall holes:
- Scrape away loose debris surrounding the dent.
- Cover the hole with spackle and let it dry.
- Add more spackle if needed and sand it until it is smooth.
- There are typically patch kits for these with a drywall patch and mud or compound.
- Cover the hole with the patch and apply the compound using a feathering technique to create a flat look.
To fix a hole in drywall, first cut a square piece of drywall a few inches larger than the actual hole. Then use a utility knife to cut off the unneeded edges of the drywall pieces, but making sure to not cut the overhanging paper backing. This paper edge will be used to attach the drywall piece to your wall.
Drywall is an important feature in many modern homes and buildings today. Whether you are finishing a basement or patching up a hole in a wall, learning how to work with the material can improve any space.