Installing drywall (sheet rock) is a rather straight forward project if you follow some simple rules. We will cover what is required to drywall a dining room but the methods are the same for all rooms.
Tools-You will need at least a measuring tape, T-square or straight edge at least four feet long, aluminum drywall knife with extra blades, a drywall keyhole saw, a chalk line and some good pencils. Do not use ink pens or markers on drywall. They are almost impossible to paint over later. If you can afford to buy one, a good drywall saw is very handy as well. Making short straight cuts in drywall is made easier using the saw than using the knife and trying to cut all the way through the board. A good sturdy ladder and saw horses will come in real handy as well. Today most drywall is installed using drywall screws rather than nails. The screws do not back out over time causing “nail pops” in your finished work. A good drywall screw gun can be had for around $50. Cordless guns cost more but makes moving around a good deal easier. without the cords under foot.
Measure your room and try to get the longest boards you can fit into the house. The dining room is 12 feet by 11 feet six inches. The ceiling is eight feet high. Using these dimensions, our dining room would take eight 4 foot by 12 foot boards for the walls and 3 twelve foot boards for the ceiling. If you attempt to use eight- foot boards standing up like most homeowners do, your taping and Spackle work is increased dramatically. Using twelve foot boards you would have 84 feet of tape joint excluding the wall to ceiling and corner joints as that is the same no matter what size boards you use. If you were to use eight foot boards on walls and ceilings in the same room you would have 132 feet of joints plus butt joints excluding corners and ceiling to wall joints. Forty eight more feet than using twelve foot boards. That’s a lot of extra taping and Spackle but it is mountains of extra sanding work. Use the largest boards you can handle.
It is best to install your ceiling boards first. Since our sample room is 11′-6″ wide, it will be three boards across. Measure from one corner to the opposite corner diagonally and then measure the other two corners the same way. If the measurements are the same, the room is square. If one is longer than the other you will want to cut the first sheet to assure you land the outward edge directly over a ceiling joist. This is a must to obtain full support along the drywall edges. Once the first full sheet is cut and installed, the other two rows should follow. The last or third row will need a small amount removed along the long edge to fit the 11′-6″ space as three full sheets would be twelve feet. In my sample room, all three sheets would need 6 inches removed from the 4 foot wide end as well. It is good practice when using screws to install them at eight inch centers along the edges and double screws at eight inch centers in the fields. This assures that there is adequate support for the drywall and prevents any sagging.
The walls in our sample room are twelve feet in one direction and 11′-6″ in the other. Starting with a twelve foot wall, install the first sheet horizontally at the floor. The second sheet will rest on the top edge of the lower sheet while you fasten it into place. The 11′-6″ walls will have to have 6 inches removed from the four sheets used there. The walls need only screws every eight inches on edges and twelve on fields to be secure.
Any occupied area of a home must have at least one coat of tape and Spackle applied for fire rating. Keep it neat! Do not leave ridges, bumps and splatters. Once the Spackle dries it is really tough to sand that down to a smooth finish. If you intend to paint the room, it will require three coats of Spackle, each sanded between coats. Your final sanding must completely smooth to the touch. The more you fuss, the better the finished room will look after it is painted.
There are lots of tools for tape and Spackle work available today but you need at least a 4 inch and twelve inch Spackle knife. A Spackle tray which looks like a cake pan is helpful in that you can carry it in one hand while you work and keep both knives with you at all times. It is a real art to tape quickly with minimum sanding but with time you will get better and faster.
Reminder-You never, if at all possible, place one butt end of a drywall sheet against another. It is very difficult to tape a butt joint and the pros have to be very careful as well. Avoid butt joints at all times. Cleanup-wash your tools after each use. Never leave Spackle to dry in your pan or on your knives. It is very difficult to remove once dried and sometimes cannot be done thereby ruining the tool permanently. Good luck with your first drywall project.
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