How to Install Drywall like a Pro
Congratulations, you’ve made it down to the studs! I bet you’re exhausted from demo or from framing out your new space. But take a deep breath and get ready for some almost instant gratification. You’re about to install drywall like a professional and see your old space take on new life!
Materials for Installing Drywall:
Tools for Installing Drywall:
Apparently I didn’t get pictures of the entire bathroom down to the studs with the tub removed. But trust me, it definitely happened!
Right above that bucket is the plumbing for the sink. We stuffed the drain with a towel to keep any gas from coming out of the open pipes. You should do this with any sink, tub, or toilet drains that are open during construction. Especially toilets!
Some people like to install drywall vertically instead of horizontally. It has to do do with the height of your ceilings and the number of times the drywall will need to be cut. You can see the drywall for the bedroom on the other side of this wall (behind the studs) was installed horizontally. We decided to do exactly what the builder did and install our new drywall the same way.
One of the coolest things we found during demo was a drawing of the original bathroom design in between the studs. If you followed us on Instagram, you know how much I hated that weird little cove that the toilet sat back in. I talked about my design aspirations for this one spot for basically a week!
Installing drywall was probably the simplest part of this bathroom reno. There’s really not much to it. But I will certainly tell you this DIY is a two person job. It’s especially difficult to install large pieces of drywall at the top of the wall. You’ll want as many hands you can get to help you. These sheets are pretty heavy and you don’t want them to break if you can avoid it.
Steps to Installing Drywall
- Measure the length of your wall
- Using the Drywall T-Square and the Utility Knife cut the drywall sheet to length
- Use the Rasp to sand off your cut edges
- Screw the drywall into the studs using your drill and drywall screws
How to Cut Drywall Sheets
The T-Square is highly instrumental in cutting straight lines. After you’ve measured the length of your wall, measure the same length on your drywall sheet and mark it. Put the T-square on top of your drywall at the mark you made and use it as a guide to score the drywall sheet.
Lightly run your utility knife along the ruler. The key is to puncture the paper, without driving the blade through the entire sheet. If you need to run the knife through multiples times that perfectly ok. The lighter you score the drywall, the more control you will have. It’s important to stay close to the ruler so you get a perfect 90* cut.
This was the first piece I cut. I pushed way too hard with the knife while so i strayed from the T-Square a few times. After I got the hang of it I realized that I didn’t need to put that much pressure on the blade. Once you’ve scored the drywall just below the surface of the paper, you can break it with little effort just using your hands.
After you’ve broken the drywall you can use the utility knife on the reverse side to cut the back piece of paper thats keeping the drywall together! Once you’ve separated the pieces, use the rasp to smooth out the sides. A rasp is basically like a cheese grater for drywall! It’s helpful to wear a mask (or hold your breath) for this part. There’s lots of little dust particles that will hit the air.
How to Install Drywall
Drywall has small dark gray X’s that run across the sheet in a line. Use the X’s as a guide for where to screw in the drywall. The first piece is always the easiest to install because you can clearly see where the studs are located while they are exposed. If you’re not great at eye-balling where to put your screws, you can use X’s to help guide you as you move farther from the stud. When you install your second sheet of drywall and the studs are completely covered, use the same X’s on the adjacent drywall sheet to help you locate the studs!
That’s me pretending that I did this myself *haha*. Brian had to help me hold this sheet in place while I got a couple of screws in the sheet before I could finish the rest of it myself.
The best way to secure your drywall is to be generous with your screws. Make sure the ends of each drywall piece have multiple screws along the edge, but don’t get too close. You can see here that the corner bit the dust. It’s important to take your time on the edges and make sure you’re hitting the stud.
There is a trick to installing the screws at the proper depth! So don’t go all super-Hulk when installing your drywall. You want to screw to be in the drywall just enough to create a little dimple below the surface of the drywall paper. Here’s what it should look like…
Here’s what it should not look like…
See how it ripped the paper? It’s not a huge deal, but the paper is an added layer of protection for the rock compound. While you’re getting the hang of installing the drywall, I recommend practicing in a few places that are not highly visible. This one was in a corner behind our sink so if the joint compound doesn’t settle correctly, it won’t be visible.
If you’re installing drywall around plumbing or electrical boxes, you can use a combination of drill bits and your utility knife to make holes in the drywall so it will fit. We also used our oscillating saw to make a larger cut for the air vent. The sink was the most complicated spot in our bathroom with multiple holes for pipes. We measured where all these pipes were, then used the utility knife to edge out a space for the sink drain and we used a couple of large drill bits for the copper water lines. (Make sure your water is shut off to the bathroom!!)
Once we got the drywall secured, we replaced the valves for the water too! If you want to know how to replace your old shut off water values with quarter turn compression valves, you can read our blog post!
Once you’ve got all your drywall installed, you can start the process of mudding! If you want to know how to tape and mud drywall, read our blog post!