You can hang drywall either with the long
edges horizontal or vertical. Hanging the drywall horizontally reduces the number of vertical joints at the middle of walls.
If you install drywall horizontally, be sure all joints are supported at the ends. If you install drywall vertically, you
won’t need nailing blocks – the stud acts as the nailing block. All drywall joints must be supported, or they’ll
crack. Whether hung vertically or horizontally, proper fastening is essential. If you have a drywall screw gun, drive screws
every 12" on ceiling joists and every 16" on wall studs. Adjust the gun so it sets the screw just slightly into
the board without breaking the paper. Some drywall specialists set the board initially with a few nails driven at the edges
and then secure the board in place with screws.
If you nail the board in place, drive a nail every 8" along wall
studs and every 6" along ceiling joists. Use 4d ring shank nails on 3/8" board and 5d ring shank nails on 1/2"
board. Keep nails at least 3/8" away from the edges of the board. Use a drywall hammer with a slightly convex head that
leaves a dimple at each nail location. Be careful not to break the surface of the paper. The dimple will be covered later
with drywall joint compound (mud).
Also be aware of where you’re driving fasteners. There may be pipe runs through
the studs, and copper pipe is thin, soft and easily punctured with a drywall nail or a screw. Copper pipes and wire are supposed
to be protected by metal plates to prevent punctures. But don’t count on it. Take care when working around pocket door
frames. Don’t drive any nails or screw points into the pocket door cavity. When in doubt, use shorter nails or screws.
is heavy. If you’re hanging full 4’ x 8’ sheets on ceilings, you’ll need a crew of at least two, and
three would be better. One person working alone can drywall ceilings if it’s an emergency, but it’s not recommended.
Start with the ceiling panels. Center the panel edges on the ceiling joist. Plan the layout so that any cut edges will wind
up in the corners, and not in the middle of the ceiling. All joints must center on a joist. If there’s no ceiling joist
where you need one, you’ll have to add one. Don’t cut the drywall sheets to make the joint center on a joist –
the seam will show.
the ceiling is done, begin hanging drywall on the walls. The standard ceiling height is 97-1/8" between the floor and
the bottom of the ceiling joists. Subtracting 1/2" for the thickness of ceiling panels leaves a 96-5/8" wall height.
Two panel widths total 96". Hang wall panels 5/8" above the finished floor for a snug fit at the ceiling. The 5/8"
at the floor will be covered with baseboard. Use a drywall foot lift to hold the panel 5/8" above the floor while driving
nails or screws.
Regular core 1/2" drywall panels are recommended for single-layer wall application in new residential
construction. 3/8" panels are recommended for ceilings in residential repair and remodeling in single or double-layers.
Type X drywall is designed to meet requirements for fire safety. Greenboard is water-resistant for use behind tile. Brownboard
is designed for exterior sheathing or soffits.
Joint compound comes in both powder and pre-mixed forms. Home improvement
specialists such as Parko Home Restorations of Canton, Michigan generally use pre-mixed compound as a topping compound. Dry
mix has to be used right away after adding water. Pre-mixed cement will last for weeks if kept in a sealed container. Regardless
of which you use, the mix should have a soft, putty-like consistency that spreads easily with a trowel or wide putty knife.
Mud that runs off the knife is too thin.
Most drywall has a tapered, or beveled edge. Joint compound and tape fill this
recess, leaving a smooth, flat surface. If a sheet has been cut to fit, the edge won’t be tapered. You can tape a square
edge the same way you tape beveled edges, the joint compound will rise slightly above the finished surface. The extra depth
won’t be as obvious if you feather out the joint compound at least 4" beyond the joint, but one located in the
middle of the ceiling is going to be noticeable. In the corners, a taped cut edge won’t show. Taping and feathering
cut joints will slow your job down to a crawl. Avoid this situation whenever possible.
Taping and finishing joints takes
three or four days. Paper joint tape is the most economical, about $2.50 per thousand square feet of board hung. Fiberglass
tape costs more, about $6.00 per thousand square feet of board. But self-adhesive fiberglass joint mesh needs no embedding
coat and is more durable than paper tape. It flexes rather than curling or tearing if the joint moves.
Which is the
method chosen by Parko Home Restorations of Canton Michigan which serves all of your home improvement, remodeling and handyman
Taping and Finishing Drywall
Start with the ceiling and work down the walls. If you’ve selected paper tape rather than fiberglass, spread joint compound
over panel edges with a 5"-wide taping knife. Don’t skimp on the mud. If you’re using self-adhesive fiberglass
tape, press tape over the joints and skip to step three below.
2. Press the paper tape into the mud with a drywall knife,
not your hand. Then smooth the surface with the knife. Press hard enough to force joint compound through the small perforations
in the tape, if the tape has perforations. But don't press too hard. Some mud should remain under the tape. When you’re
done taping and embedding the tape, let everything dry overnight before beginning the finish coats.
3. Cover the tape
with cement, feathering the outer edges at least 2" on each side of the paper tape. Feather an additional 2" when
covering a cut joint, as there’s no taper. Then let the cement dry overnight.
4. When dry, sand lightly. A pole
sander speeds this work. Then apply a thin second finish coat, feathering the edges a little past the edge of the prior coat.
Use drywall topping compound designed for finish coats to create a smooth joint that’s easy to sand. You can buy "all-purpose"
compound, which can be used both for bedding and topping. But it’s better to use bedding compound for bedding, and topping
compound for finishing. Use a wider drywall knife for this finish coat, up to 12" wide. To save sanding time, keep this
finish coat as smooth as possible. For top quality work, apply a third coat of mud after the second coat has dried and been
5. When the last coat of cement is dry, sand smooth.
6. Fill all nail and screw dimples with at least
one coat of joint compound. Sand the surface after each coat is dry.
Use folded perforated tape on interior corners.
Fold tape down the center to form a right angle. Tape designed for this purpose already has a crease down the middle. Then
apply cement on each side of the corner and press tape in place with the putty knife. Use a drywall corner knife to embed
the tape on both intersecting walls at the same time. Finish the corner with a coat of joint compound. Smooth the cement on
both surfaces of a corner at the same time with a corner knife. Let the corner dry overnight and then sand the surface smooth.
exterior corners, use metal or plastic drywall corner bead. This makes a more durable corner, able to withstand impacts that
are likely at external corners. Also apply paper drywall tape over the edge of the metal bead. Nail or screw outside corners
to the board every 8" and finish with joint compound. When you’re finished applying tape, bead and mud at both
internal and external corners, you should have a 4" strip of mud on each side of every corner. Don’t worry if this
strip isn’t smooth. Sanding and more finishing will follow.
Drywall mud shrinks as it dries. So apply a little
more than actually needed to make a smooth finish, especially over fastener heads. Bear in mind that drywall sanding is very
messy! It creates huge, choking clouds of dust. Wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling this stuff. In an unoccupied house, the
mess isn’t as much of a problem. However, if you're working in an occupied home, you'll need to control the
dust. Homeowners don't appreciate having everything in their home covered with a thick layer of white powder. You'll
either need to seal off your work area with plastic sheeting, or use a dustless sanding system, such as a wet sanding sponge.
you plan to install crown molding, taping is needed where walls meet the ceiling to provide a fire blocking. Set the
trim with 8d finishing nails spaced 12" to 16" apart. Be sure to nail into the top wall plate.
You can apply
new drywall directly over old plaster or on furring strips nailed over an uneven plaster ceiling. Applying furring strips
on a ceiling won’t create the problems that furring would on a wall. But furring out the ceiling will usually be more
work than tearing down the ceiling cover and starting over. Use 2" x 2" or 2" x 3" furring strips nailed
perpendicular to the joists. Space these furring strips 16" on center for 3/8" drywall or 24" on center for
1/2" drywall. Nail the furring strips with two 8d nails at each joist. Stagger board end joints. Be sure board edges
end on a joist or furring strip. Don’t jam the boards tightly together. It’s best if there’s only light
contact at each edge.
Hanging ceiling panels is easier with a drywall lift that allows precise positioning while leaving
two hands free for driving nails or screws. If you don’t have a drywall lift, cut two braces like the one shown in Figure
10-8. Make them slightly longer than the ceiling height. Nail or screw the drywall to all supporting members, spacing the
fasteners 7" to 8" apart. If you use nails, select 5d (1-1/4") ring-shank nails for 1/2" drywall and 4d
(1") ring shank nails for 3/8" drywall. Again, don’t break the surface of the paper when driving fasteners.
Finish ceiling joints the same way you finish wall joints.
Textured finishes for drywall
Wall finish is usually smooth
to make cleaning easier. But the ceiling finish may be textured, usually with some form of joint compound. Texture hides ridges
and bumps in the ceiling and improves acoustics by eliminating echo off the ceiling. But textured ceilings are also an admission
that there’s something to hide. Many owners don’t like textured ceilings and know that texture is used to hide
defects. The first thing they'll say when they see a textured ceiling is, "What's wrong with your ceiling?"
peel texture consists of thinned joint compound applied with a long-nap paint roller. In an emergency, you can make ceiling
texture by thinning out joint compound with water until it reaches a consistency similar to that of paint. But it’s
better to buy mix that’s specifically made for texturing. It’s much easier than trying to make your own. To ensure
proper consistency, try applying some mixture to a scrap piece of drywall held upright. Adjust the consistency as necessary
by adding more water or joint compound to the bucket of mixture. When you’ve got the mixture just right, roll it onto
the ceiling or wall. Keep the rolling pattern uniform so the texture appears to have a grain. When the mixture dries, avoid
the temptation to sand the surface. The texture is very fragile. Sanding can knock off too much of the desirable surface.
finish is done with a compressor-operated spatter gun that shoots globules of thinned drywall mud on the ceiling at random.
Scrape overspray off the walls. Other mixes are available to create different effects. You can get nearly the same spatter
effect by dipping a stiff-bristle brush in thinned drywall mud and slinging mud on the ceiling with a snap of the wrist. This
takes practice. Don’t count on getting this right on the first attempt. Control the size of the spatters by making the
mix thinner or thicker. Obviously, this is messy work. But it’s an effective technique when you have to match only a
few square feet of spatter-finished ceiling. For minor patching, you can also buy spatter finish in an aerosol can.
finish uses the same technique – spatter blown or snapped on the ceiling. But the mix should be stiffer so spatters
are between the size of a pea and a grape. Let the globules dry for a few minutes. Then knock the tops off with a masonry
trowel. Work the trowel in all directions to avoid creating an obvious grain in the texture.
Skip trowel or imperial
texture is like a knockdown finish, only more so. Apply mud to the ceiling or wall in a random pattern. Then smooth out what’s
there, leaving irregular patterns of texture in some areas and no texture in others. When done, it should look like Spanish
plaster is used in one or two 1/8" coats over a veneer plaster base such as blueboard. Blueboard is similar to drywall,
with a paper surface designed to bond well with the veneer plaster. Apply enough plaster to trowel a smooth, even finish over
the entire surface. It’s a lot of work, but veneer plaster hides imperfections and joints better than regular plaster,
and provides a hard coat that protects the paper surface below.
Cottage cheese or popcorn texture is applied with a
compressor, hopper and applicator gun. Although popcorn ceiling texture isn’t currently in fashion, and you’re
not likely to be installing it, you may still be called on to do a repair job. Aerosol sprays are available to match the existing
cottage cheese texture if you’re only patching a small area.
No matter what finish you apply, the job isn’t
done until the surface has been primed and painted.
Fill nail holes and small cracks in board by applying a smooth coat
of drywall compound. Let it dry. Then sand the surface smooth. Repairing larger holes in drywall isn’t as easy. There’s
nothing but wall cavity behind a full penetration of the board. Drywall compound will fall into holes wider than about 1/2."
Cover larger cracks and small holes with self-adhesive fiberglass tape. Then press stiff drywall compound into the mesh. When
the first coat is dry, apply a finish coat. With a patch like this, feather the drywall compound 12" on each side of
the crack to avoid leaving an obvious ridge. Again, don’t count on getting this right the first time.
than a golf ball need some type of backing to hold the drywall mud until it sets. You can buy a drywall repair kit with clips
that support drywall cut to cover nearly any size hole. If these drywall clips create lumps or otherwise don’t work
for you, make a patch kit with cardboard, string and a short length of dowel. Cut a piece of stiff cardboard slightly larger
than the hole. Loop a short length of string through the center of the cardboard patch. Then fold the cardboard in half and
insert it into the cavity. Pull the string tight, flattening the cardboard against the cavity side of the board and closing
off the hole. Tie the loose end of the string around a short dowel laid across the hole. Then apply a coat of drywall compound
over the hole and against the cardboard backing. Leave the patch slightly concave. When dry, cut the string and remove the
Many experienced drywall experts use neither clips nor cardboard. Instead, they cut a piece of scrap wood that
will fit through the hole and extend about 2" to either side. They screw this in place with drywall screws on either
side of the hole. This puts a firm foundation behind a portion of the hole. Then they cut a piece of drywall to fit the hole
and screw it to the scrap wood. Once in place, they lay lengths of self-adhesive fiberglass drywall tape over the patch so
it laps several inches onto firm wallboard. Then they apply a finish coat of joint compound and feather out several inches
beyond the patch. When dry, they sand the patch smooth. Once primed and painted, there should be no evidence of the repair.
hole more than 12" across is probably too large for a cardboard-backed patch. Instead, mark and cut out a rectangular
section of wallboard all the way to the middle of the studs at both sides. Cut two nailing blocks to fit horizontally between
the studs. Insert the blocks into the cutout and toenail them at the top and bottom of the rectangular cutout. Then cut drywall
to fit in the cutout. Tape and finish the perimeter of the cutout as with any drywall joint.
Plywood paneling is sold
in many grains and species. Hardboard imprinted with a wood grain pattern is generally less expensive. Better hardboard paneling
has a realistic wood grain pattern. Both plywood and hardboard paneling are sold with a hard, plastic finish that’s
easily wiped clean. Hardboard is also available with vinyl coatings in many patterns and colors, including some that have
the appearance of ceramic tile.
Wood paneling should be delivered to the site a few days before application. Panels
need time to adapt to room temperature and humidity before application. Stack panels in the room separated by full length
furring strips so air can circulate to panel faces and backs.
Always start a panel application with a truly vertical
edge. If a corner is straight and vertical, butt the first panel into that corner. Cut subsequent panels so they lap on studs.
If you don’t have a vertical corner, tack a panel perfectly vertical and 2" from the starting corner. Use an art
compass to scribe the outline of the corner on the panel edge. See Figure 10-10. Cut the panel along this line and move it
into the corner. Butt the next panel against the first, being careful to keep the long edges truly vertical. Use the same
art compass to scribe a line for panel top edges.
Fasten the panels with nails or adhesive. Adhesive saves filling nail
holes on the panel surface. Use adhesive that provides "work time" before forming a tight bond. That makes it easier
to adjust panels for a good fit. If panels are nailed, use small finishing nails (brads). Use 1-1/2" long brads for 1/4"
or 3/8" thick materials. Drive a brad each 8" to 10" along edges and at intermediate supports. Most panels
are grooved to simulate hardboard panels. Drive brads in these grooves. Set brads slightly below the surface with a nail set.
Many vendors of prefinished paneling also sell matching nails that require no putty to fill nail holes. Other vendors sell
wood-filler putty to match their panels.
hardwood paneling is 8" wide or less. Hardwood paneling needs several days to adapt to room temperature and moisture
conditions before being applied. Most paneling is applied with the long edges running vertically. But rustic patterns may
be applied horizontally or diagonally to achieve a special effect.
Nail vertical paneling to horizontal furring strips
or to nailing blocks set between studs. Use 1-1/2" to 2" finishing or casing nails. Blind nail through the tongue
on narrow strips. For 8" boards, face nail near each edge.
attached to the ceiling is usually 12" x 12". Suspended ceiling panels are usually 2’ x 2’ or 2’
x 4’. Ceiling tile can be set with adhesive if the surface is smooth, level and firm. Dab a small spot of adhesive at
the center and at each corner of the tile. Edge-matched tile can be stapled if the backing is wood.
You can set tile
on furring strips to cover unsightly defects. But it’s usually faster, cheaper and results in a better job if you tear
off the existing cover and start over. If you want to try setting tile over the existing ceiling, use 1" x 3" or
1" x 4" furring strips where ceiling joists are 16" or 24" on center. Fasten the furring with two 7d or
8d nails at each joist. Where trusses or ceiling joists are spaced up to 48" apart, fasten 2" x 2" or 2"
x 3" furring strips with two 10d nails at each joist. The furring should be a low-density wood, such as a soft pine,
if tile is to be stapled to the furring.
Lay furring strips from the center of the room to the edges. Find the center
by snapping chalk lines from opposite corners. The ceiling center is where the diagonal lines cross. Place the first furring
strip at the room center and at a right angle to the joists. Run parallel furring strips each 12" to both edges of the
room. Edge courses on opposite walls should be equal in width. Plan spacing perpendicular to joists the same way. End
courses should also be equal in width. Install tile the same way, working from the center to the edges. Set edge tile last
so you get a close fit. Ceiling tile usually has a tongue on two adjacent edges and grooves on the other edges. Keep the tongue
edges on the open side so they can be stapled to furring strips. Attach edge tile on the groove side with finishing nails
or adhesive. Use one staple at each furring strip on the leading edge and two staples along the side. Drive a small finishing
nail or use adhesive to set edge tile against the wall.
careful not to soil the tile surface. Grease will leave permanent stains on ceiling tile. Professional tile installers rub
corn meal between their palms to keep their hands oil-free.
These are fine for basements, or other informal areas. Using
them in "formal" rooms, like a living room or dining room, creates a "low-income" effect that may not
be exactly what your client intends. Suspended ceilings cover imperfections, can lower the ceiling to a more practical height,
and add a plenum for running new electrical, plumbing, and HVAC lines.
The ceiling grid is suspended from wires or straps
attached to joists. Panels drop into the completed grid. Ceiling height can be any level. Hanger wires may be only 2"
or 3" long if the primary purpose is to cover fractured plaster. In earthquake zones, seismic bracing may be required
by the building code. Your building department will have more information on this.
Many older homes have trim
styles no longer available at building material dealers. Matching trim exactly may require expensive custom fabrication. Try
to remove trim in salvage condition so it can be re-installed. If trim is damaged or if you have to move doors or windows,
it may be easier to replace all the trim in the room rather than try to match existing trim.
Keep in mind that trim
work requires a very high level of carpentry skill. Trim needs to be essentially perfect, sloppy joints and visible nail heads
won’t do. Don’t ask a rough carpenter to do trim work – the results will be a disappointment. If trim is
going to be painted, select a trim made of extruded polymer, ponderosa pine or northern white pine, or primed MDF. Highly
decorative cast trim is another good choice if trim will be painted. Most natural finish trim in modern homes is pine or oak.
These woods can be very attractive if they’re nicely finished.
is the interior edge trim for door and window openings. Modern casing patterns vary in width from 2-1/4" to 3-1/2"
and in thickness from 1/2" to 3/4". Install casing about 3/16" back from the face of the door or window jamb.
Nail with 6d or 7d casing or finishing nails, depending on thickness of the casing. Space nails in pairs about 16" apart,
nailing to both jambs and framing. Casing with molded forms requires mitered joints, while rectangular casing can be butt-joined.
the joint between the wall and floor with baseboard. Figure 10-12 shows several sizes and forms of baseboard. Two-piece base
consists of a baseboard topped with a small base cap. The cap covers any gap caused by irregularities in the wall finish.
Base shoe is nailed into the subfloor and covers irregularities in the finished floor. Drywall walls seldom need a base cap.
Carpeted floors hide variations in the floor and make base shoe unnecessary.
Install square-edged baseboard with butt
joints at inside corners and mitered joints at outside corners. Nail at each stud with two 8d finishing nails. Molded base,
base cap, and base shoe require a coped joint at inside corners and a mitered joint at outside corners.
molding may be strictly decorative or may be used to hide the joint where the wall and ceiling meet. Use crown molding to
cover the gap where wood paneling meets the ceiling. Attach crown molding with finishing nails driven into upper wall plates.
Wide crown molding should be nailed both to the wall plate and the ceiling joists.
Modern taste favors more
open space in homes. For example, new homes often have the family room and kitchen combined as one open area. Many older homes
have a formal dining room or kitchen dining area enclosed by four walls and with a door that can be closed. Removing a nonbearing
wall (partition) can add livability to an older home.
Nonbearing partitions support neither the roof nor a floor above.
Breaking out a partition is only a cosmetic change. If wall cover is plaster or drywall, there’s no salvage value in
the partition. But save the trim, if possible. You may need it later.
Many partition walls include plumbing, electric
or HVAC lines. Plan how those will be handled before you begin demolition.
When the partition is gone, there will be
a strip of exposed floor, ceiling and wall where bottom, top and side edges of the partition had been. Finish the ceiling
and walls with strips of drywall, tape, joint compound and paint. Filling the strip in the floor isn’t as easy. Usually
the best you can do is level the surface and cover the area with carpet or vinyl. With oak strip floors, it’s possible
to patch holes by weaving in new oak strips. However, this is a tricky job, and the entire floor may have to be refinished
to get a perfect match of colors.
Removing a loadbearing partition requires the same patching of walls, ceiling, and
floor. But you also have to add support for ceiling joists. If it’s a loadbearing wall on the first floor of a two-story
house, it's holding up the second floor. If you remove it, the upstairs rooms can collapse onto the first floor. You’ll
need a large beam and posts to carry the weight that the wall was carrying. In this case, the beam will have to be below the
ceiling joists, since the ceiling joists of the first floor are also the floor joists of the second floor. If there’s
attic space above the partition, install a support beam above the ceiling joists. Be sure both ends of the beam are well supported
on a bearing wall or post that is supported by the foundation. Support joists with metal framing anchors or wood brackets.
To eliminate the need for temporary support, install the new beam before demolition begins.
If there’s no attic
space for a concealed beam, substitute an exposed beam at least 6’8" above the floor. Support ceiling joists temporarily
with jacks and blocking while the partition is demolished and until the new beam is in place.
are supported by a new beam inserted where the top of the bearing wall had been. Place temporary joist supports on both sides
of the bearing wall. Then remove the bearing wall and cut the joists as needed. Insert the new beam and install a hanger for
each joist. Posts will also be needed to support this new beam.
The size of the beam required will vary with the span,
load and lumber grade. Beam sizing like this is work for a civil engineer. In some communities, you’ll need the approval
of a licensed engineer before a permit is issued. Your building department or lumber yard probably has span tables for beams
and load tables for posts that cover the most common residential situations. You probably won’t need an engineer unless
you’re spanning a huge opening. For example, licensed contractors are often allowed to do simple engineering like this
for houses up to 3,000 square feet. Houses this size and smaller are fairly straightforward. Larger houses and commercial
buildings are more likely to present more complex engineering problems. When in doubt, make the framing much stronger than
necessary. Building departments never have a problem with this.
Partition walls support nothing
but their own weight and can be framed from 2" x 3" lumber, though 2" x 4" studs and plates are more common.
The first step is to install the top plate. If ceiling joists are perpendicular to the partition, nail the top plate to each
joist using 16d nails. If ceiling joists are parallel to the top plate and the partition is not directly under a joist, install
solid blocking between joists. Blocks should be no more than 24" on center. Nail the top plate to the blocks.
be sure the new partition will be vertical, hold a plumb line along the side of the top plate at several points. Mark where
the plumb bob touches the floor. Nail the sole plate to the floor joist at that position. If there’s no joist where
needed, nail solid blocking between joists. Blocks should be no more than 24" on center. Cut studs to fit snugly between
the plates every 16" on center. Stud lengths may vary, so measure for each stud. Toenail the studs to the plates using
If you have enough space, assemble the wall on the floor and tilt it into place. Nail the top plate to the
studs first. Tilt the assembled wall into place. Then toenail the studs to the bottom plate as described above.