The Science Of Hanging Drywall

Being a professional drywall contractor for nearly 20 years now, I’ve learned a thing or two about my craft and wanted to share some insight to help potential DIYers install drywall correctly and to understand why the methods to be discussed later, will avoid costly headaches down the road.

I’ve seen a lot, and fixed a lot of amateur mistakes that could have been avoided had the knowledge been available and applied.

First, let’s imagine your installing drywall in a 12’x18′ room ( I just chose a random number) You’ll first need to figure how many sheets your going to need and at what lengths. Drywall typically comes in 8′, 10′ and 12′ lengths from your local big box stores. For our 12’x18′ room, and knowing the available sheet lengths, it’s easy to figure out that you will need 11) 12 footers total. Assuming that you have an 8 foot wall height. (8 for the walls and 3 for the ceiling.)

Next, since we have 18′ room length, you will also need 7) 8 footers total (4 for the walls and 3 for the ceiling) If your lost don’t worry it will make sense in a sec. The first step is to hang the ceiling. By hanging the ceiling first you’ll add more support to the ceilings outer perimeter as the wall side will butt up to it.

Ok. When you start hanging the ceiling, start at one corner of the room (lets start on the 18′ wall side) Grab a 12′ and screw it to the ceiling. Always run the rock opposite the joists never with them. Then grab an 8′ cut it down to your needed measurement. ( If it’s truly an 18′ room you need to cut 2′ off of your 8′ footer) then hang that one at the end of the other sheet to finish off a row on your ceiling. Next grab a 12′ sheet and start hanging that one from the same end you just finished your first row at. Then grab an 8 footer, cut it down as you did before, and finish that row. Your almost there….

As you’ve probably guessed by now, you follow the same steps as above going the opposite way hanging your last row as you did the first. This process is known as “staggering your joints.”

Here is how it should look:

The “science” of this simply is that if shifting occurs in a home (which often happens) your joints are only 4′ in length (the width of the sheet rock) as opposed to one 12′ joint (room width) had you started hanging your sheets by beginning all your rows at the same end. The longer the joint the more susceptible it becomes to cracking with movement.

Here’s the visual: Hold a toothpick between your thumb and forefinger and press down. It snaps pretty easy right? Now with another toothpick break it in half and try to snap it. It gets harder because it requires more pressure to do it. Therin is the principle that applies to my subject. Happy Rockin.