Expert advice on attaching drywall panels to studs and joists.
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Drywall: Attaching Drywall
If you want truly great looking drywall, the first step is to attach it to the wall properly. If you don’t attach it properly, no amount of joint compound in the world will hide the problem. Drywall is heavy, so it’s not surprising that it takes hard work to attach it to the studs and the joists. Still, follow these tips and you can tackle that drywall project like a pro.
If you’re attaching drywall to the walls and ceiling, always do the ceiling first. That way, the wall panels will provide additional support for the ceiling and will help hide any gaps along the edges. Attaching large heavy sheets of drywall to a ceiling is a two person job. Even with help, you’ll want to brace the panel against the ceiling while you attach it. This is definitely one time you don’t want to use your head. The easiest solution is a simple brace made from by 2x4s. Cut the brace, so it’s slightly oversized and will hold the panels snug against the ceiling. If it’s loose, the whole thing can fall and hurt somebody.
With your brace and buddy in place, it’s time to start attaching the panels to the ceiling joists. A couple of things to keep in mind. First, the end of each panel should only cover half the joist. You’ll need the other half to attach the next panel. Second, don’t forget to mark the location of the studs and joists on the drywall before covering the beams. You’ll need those marks to make sure your screws hit wood later. And like any building material, drywall will expand and contract over time. If there’s no room for expansion, you might end up with a hairline crack in your nice new wall.
A 3/8-inch gap near the floor or ceiling will give the drywall all the room it needs to expand safely. When the ceiling panels are safely attached, it’s time to go to work on paneling the walls. Work from the ceiling down so any cut edges will end up near the floor. Then you can hide them with base molding, no one will ever know. Butt panels together to create a bevel between factory edges. Drywall is made thinner along the edges on purpose. This bevel allows room for joint compound and tape, so you end up with a nice smooth finish. If you have a standard eight foot ceiling, attach the panels horizontally. For higher ceilings, vertical panels are the way to go. Staggering seams on the joists and studs is critical. A continuous seam will be weaker and more likely to crack. It’s also harder to hide one long seam.
Continue working your way around the room and don’t let little things like doors and windows get in your way since you can cut out the openings later, panel right over them. Oh, but remember to leave yourself a way out. Once you finished paneling, use a handsaw or a drywall router to remove any excess. Once the panels are in place, it’s time to break out the screw gun. You can use any power drill but you should invest in a special dimpler attachment. This will sink the screws just below the surface so the heads can be covered with joint compound. Go easy because if you break the paper, the screw won’t hold as well and you’ll have much more patching to do. If you wan to impress your friends, rent an auto-feed screw gun for about $35.00 a day. It will make your job go a lot quicker. Plus, it’s fun and it looks really cool.
Attaching drywall correctly is hard work. But if you follow these tips, you can do a beautiful job and you can tell your friends how—
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