How to do Drywall Yourself

Every time you move or construct walls you will probably be finalizing them with drywall. The least with hassle way to create a smooth surface, drywall is a DIY project that takes a little patience and a steady hand. Using the right materials and proper set up you can complete a DIY drywall job from start to finish without the assistance of a drywall contractor.

Successful Set Up

Sheets of drywall are butted together and screwed into wood or steel studs, creating a surface that generally has both vertical and horizontal seams. Attach the sheets securely and make the surface as level as possible to ensure the best finish. Start by checking for twists, bends and warps in the studs. Correct them with fasteners before you put the drywall sheets up or replace severely warped studs entirely.

 

You’ll also need to cut the drywall to fit in place and leave space for electrical outlets and switches. Have a large open space available on the floor and a strong razor knife (an Exacto Knife works well) to make the necessary cuts.

Essential Equipment and Supplies

Besides the knife for trimming and cutting the drywall, you’ll need a good supply of screws (specially made drywall screws are generally #8 x 1 1/4” or 1 1/2”) and a cordless power driver. Corded tools will also work, but can get awkward depending on your layout and the available room to maneuver.

Have a carpenter pencil and a level on hand to mark the cut lines and check the walls and studs.

Once you have the sheets up you’ll need to move on to mudding the seams and corners. For that job you’ll need a selection of drywall knives, ranging from fairly narrow to the wide and thin blade that is best for the last layer of mud. Count the corners that are in your room, both inside and outside angles, and purchase corner beads for each one. These often come in lengths of 8 to 12 feet and can be cut to fit the height or length of the corner.

The right mud for DIY drywall jobs is an often debated topic. Many professionals mix their own mud on the job site, getting it to the optimum consistency given the conditions in the house. For a simple DIY drywall project it’s best to buy premixed tubs of mud. To prevent the product from drying out, only open up the buckets as you need them.

Pick up a variety of sandpaper as well and rent or borrow a hand sander, if you don’t already have one. Also keep a small pail of water and some rags nearby for quick clean up.

Tips for Installation

Don’t rush a drywall job. Remember that it can be difficult to fix a bumpy finish or a crooked seam, so be patient and do it right the first time.

Take the time to let the mud dry and sand the area thoroughly after each layer of mud. Professional drywallers often use much less mud than DIY enthusiasts. Aim to use the most mud on the first layer and progressively less as you move up. Three layers in the generally accepted level, although four might be necessary.

Use a reinforced mesh behind any wide gaps (like a 1 or 2” seam) to prevent the mud from collapsing into the hole.

Look for mold and mildew resistant drywall to use in the kitchen and bathroom. You’ll be better protected and the cost difference is reasonable. Also remember that you’ll need at least one coat of primer on top of the new drywall before you paint.

DIY drywall jobs can get frustrating, so be patient. A careful job will result in a clean, smooth finish that will be durable and take your paint well. It’s always worth the extra effort and care.