How to Hang Drywall

Drywall is a large, rigid sheet of finished material that you can use to face interior walls of homes and commercial structures. Drywall construction involves building walls without mortar or plaster. If you want to add or completely remodel a room to your house, you'll need to hang drywall along the studs that frame your home.

Even though you can get help from an expert, hanging drywall is simple enough to do yourself. It's an inexpensive material to work with, and if you make a mistake, you can quickly fix it. To do the job right, you're going to need some tools and materials besides the drywall itself. Follow this drywall installation guide and learn some tips from the pros to make your room addition or renovation a success.

Materials and Tools for Hanging Drywall

Here is a list of tools and materials you need to hang drywall:

  • Drywall panels: Use a sheet width that reduces the seams that will appear in the finished product. You should also find one with enough thickness for the application. A quarter-inch sheet is suitable for curved arches and walls, while a three-eighths inch works to cover existing walls. Most standard panels are half an inch thick.
  • Safety glasses: Invest in safety goggles to prevent dust from getting into your eyes. You should only use tinted glasses if you're going to work outside.
  • Dust mask: Wear a dust mask over your nose and mouth to protect yourself against breathing in small irritants.
  • Tape measure: Measure the size of the sheet of drywall you need with a tape measure that's at least 12 feet long.
  • Drywall square: Ensure your cuts are straight with an L-shaped square like what you would use for woodwork. Drywall squares are typically 48 inches long, enough to cut the length of a full sheet of drywall.
  • Utility knife: Score the drywall with a utility knife before cutting it to give yourself an even line to follow.
  • Drywall knife: Spread the drywall mud over the seams with a drywall knife, a tool with a flat blade to seal the seams. You may want to order a few different widths, depending on the size of your project.
  • Drywall corner knife: Spread the mud into the corner seams of the room with a drywall corner knife with a 90-degree angle. A rounded edge of the corner knife pushes the compound deep into the corner much more efficiently than a straight drywall knife could.
  • Jab saw: A jab saw is a heavy-duty, serrated knife that can poke holes through a drywall panel.
  • Drywall saw: A drywall saw with a long thin blade and a handle on one end can cut odd shapes into your wallboard.
  • Cordless drywall screwdriver: Attach the screws into the wall with a cordless drywall screwdriver that provides the control and speed for maximum productivity.
  • Drywall screws: Secure the drywall to the stud with drywall screws of the appropriate length for your boards' thickness.
  • Drywall adhesive: Attach your drywall panels to the studs with drywall adhesive.
  • Drywall tape: Cover the seams between boards with paper or mesh drywall joint tape.
  • Lightweight joint compound: Since it's easy to sand, use lightweight drywall joint compound to repair cracks or apply as a finish coat.
  • Setting-type joint compound: This substance is useful for filling oversize cutouts around electrical boxes and sealing cracks where drywall sheets don't stick close together.
  • Stain-blocking primer: Use this material after the final coat to cover stains and prevent bleeding through newly applied layers of paint.
  • Mud pan: Contain your drywall mud with a U-shaped stainless mud pan with sheared sides that allow you to wipe excess material off the knife.
  • Drywall sanding sponge: Touch up your walls with a handheld drywall sanding sponge for a smooth finish.
  • Sanding block: Smooth the rough spots over the seams when the drywall mud has dried with a sanding block. You should have multiple grits from coarse to fine on hand.
  • Sanding pole: If you're taking on a large drywall project, use a pole sander that attaches your sanding block to a broom handle to smooth surfaces in higher places.
  • Corner sander: Along with your other sanding materials, you can also get a corner sanding block on a 90-degree angle to reach the corners of the room.
  • Drywall lift: If you're completing this DIY project alone, you can rent a drywall lift to place your wallboard in the appropriate position.

How to Hang Drywall

Hanging drywall doesn't take long, especially if you have help from friends or family members. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to install drywall during your DIY home remodel.

Prepare Drywall Sheets

1. Prepare the Drywall Sheets for the Ceiling

Before you start placing the wallboard on your ceiling, you should measure and mark where they fit. You might only need one sheet of drywall if you're using 12-foot boards, but if you have a spacious area, you may need additional panels. Here are some tips for cutting and measuring drywall for the ceiling:

  • To figure out where to put the first board, measure from a corner that makes a 90-degree angle with the joists, the horizontal framing components spanning on top of load-bearing walls.
  • If the board isn't the full length of the ceiling, it must end in the middle of a joist, or you'll have to measure to the center of the farthest framing component that the board overlaps. Mark the new dimensions on the edge of the first board.
  • Use a square to guide you while scoring the mark with a utility knife. Place the drywall on edge and use your knee to snap the excess material from the other side.
  • To determine where to place screws throughout the drywall panels, mark the spot where the joists intersect the wall on the top plate.
Install Ceiling Drywall

2. Install Drywall on the Ceiling

Now that you know where to put the panels, you can correctly install them. Follow these steps to cover the ceiling with drywall:

  • Using a lift or an assistant, position the first board against a top corner. Ensure the edges are perpendicular to the framing components and that one end is flush against the wall.
  • After securing the board in place, secure five evenly-spaced screws in a line across the entire sheet and into the framing component closest to its center.
  • Use the top plate marks to keep the screws in line, double-checking that each screw is at least half an inch from the closest edge. Drive the screw heads deep enough into the board that they indent the paper without breaking through.
  • Make a line of five screws into each joist that your drywall board touches until you reach the end.
  • Continue driving screws into another row, ensuring that they are at least a few feet from the first row. Add a screw next to any screw heads that broke through the paper.
Measure and Cut Drywall

3. Measure and Cut Drywall for the Wall

Once you've covered the ceiling, you can now position the wallboard for your interior walls. Follow these tips for measuring wallboards for your walls:

  • Measure the wall's width and cut the drywall sheet so that it's about a quarter-inch shorter than the measurement.
  • Using a lift or an assistant, prop the drywall up and position it tight against the ceiling.
  • Score the mark with a utility knife and a drywall square, and snap the excess material against the line.
Install Drywall on Wall

4. Install Drywall on the Wall

As you install your newly trimmed drywall boards, take some drywall adhesive and run it across the studs so that you won't need as many screws. Drywall adhesive will also enhance the noise reduction of your walls. Follow these methods for covering the wall with drywall boards:

  • Before applying the drywall, ensure that the initial board will end up in the middle of a stud, the vertical framing component of a wall. If you need to make adjustments, cut the board so that it fits in the center.
  • Use a lift or an assistant to place the board against the studs to have one edge fit snugly next to the ceiling board and another against the adjacent wall.
  • Drive drywall screws into the center of the board at a convenient height.
  • Once you've installed the first screws, put in the rest, working from the center of the board outward.
  • Drive the screws and evenly space them apart as you secure them into all the studs.
  • To cover the wall easily, hang the drywall horizontally to reduce the amount of adhesive, placing the seam at a convenient height. If this doesn't cover your wall, you'll need additional sheets.
Cut Openings

5. Cut Openings for Doors, Windows and Outlet Boxes

The room most likely has doors and windows, and you'll need to cut the drywall for a current or future opening. Follow these tips for trimming the area where a sheet covers a window that you haven't installed yet:

  • Cover the window with a drywall sheet and drive in a few screws to indicate the future window's corners.
  • Use a jab saw to puncture a hole into the approximate middle of the future window and cut sideways and vertically until you reach the edges.

Follow these tips if the window is already in place:

  • Remove the trim around the window and cut the opening in the drywall panel before hanging it.
  • Position the sheet along the floor to lay out the cut, and mark where it meets the bottom edge of the window.
  • Measure from the ceiling to the upper part of the window to lay out the top cut's edge.
  • Cut the window opening and screw the panels in place.

If you want to cut around a door:


  • Lay out the drywall in the same way you would measure for a window cut.
  • Take away the trim around the door, and lean the sheet of drywall against the door opening. Mark where the studs are and draw a line for the top of the door opening.
  • Cut the door opening with a jab saw and screw the panels in place.

If you want to make cuts for electrical outlets:

  • Mark the height of the box for the outlet from the floor.
  • With the electricity off, screw the drywall to the studs, covering the electrical box.
  • Locate the inside edge of the box by puncturing the drywall with the jab saw and cutting outward.
Secure Drywall Against Corners

6. Secure the Drywall Against the Outside and Inside Corners

Install the drywall to reach the floor and frame the outside corners by following these steps:

  • Start at the bottom row with a shorter panel so that the top seam won't be directly above the bottom.
  • Place the wallboard in the appropriate location and screw it in place.
  • Install the longer sheet after the short one is in place.
  • There should be a slight gap between the drywall and floor to prevent the drywall from hitting against bumps on the floor. The baseboard will eventually cover the space. If necessary, trim the sheet to leave about a half-inch gap.
  • Cut a piece of drywall long so that it hangs over the corner.
  • Trim it with a jab saw after it's in the appropriate position.
  • Hang the panel, leaving it long and trimming it to create a well-fitted, tight corner.

For inside corners, make sure pieces fit closely but aren't jammed together. Forcing boards together too tightly increases the chance of breaking and crumbling. You can leave about an eighth of an inch between the boards since you'll fill any gaps with drywall compound later.

Add Finishing Coats of Drywall Compound

7. Add the Finishing Coats of Drywall Compound

To fill the joints, use a container of lightweight drywall compound. Make sure you have enough material in the mud pan to apply one full coat on the framing component where you'll be working. Even though you would follow these steps for seams in both directions, you should begin with horizontal seams for the best results.

  • Cover the full span of the wallboard seam with compound using your drywall knife. Use light, even coats, to fill the gaps and make them level with boards on either side.
  • Lay the joint tape on your newly coated joint while the drywall compound is still wet. Leave about an eighth of an inch of space if two pieces intersect.
  • Apply the lightweight compound with a larger drywall knife entirely on top of the tape and the area around it, making sure the coats are level with the wall.
  • To get the first and second coat of the corners, instead of using tape, use a metal or fiberboard corner bead, depending on the traffic you expect to have in the area. Lay it on top of the first coat and then apply a second layer of compound over it.
  • Fill the screw dimples while allowing the seams to dry according to the time suggested on the joint compound's container. Cover any protruding screw heads with the compound after driving them into the wall.
  • Wait for the walls to dry, until the compound turns completely white.
  • Apply the last thin layer to all the seams and corners using a drywall knife. If you had to repair any protruding screw heads, you should also lay a second coat there.
  • Run over the walls again with a drywall knife and check that your wallboard is level with the joints. Use your drywall knife to check joints for gaps under them, and use drywall compound to fill low spots.
  • Rub a sander over the joints after the finishing coat has dried, until you cannot feel any imperfections, joints or screws when you touch them.
  • After you sand and touch up your walls, you can apply primer and paint them.
6 Expert Tips for Hanging Drywall

6 Expert Tips for Hanging Drywall

Applying wallboard to your interior walls is a simple DIY project, even for beginners. If you want to hang drywall like the experts, follow these tips to make your job look like a professional did it.

1. Check the Level of Your Framing Before You Start

The framing of a ceiling or wall needs to be flat from one stud or joist to the other for the wallboards to maintain their integrity. Uneven framing could lead to bowing panels, which adds strange contours or cracks in the walls.

Use a level and straight edge to make sure that the ceiling and walls are flat and perpendicular before installing any sheets. If necessary, smooth down joists or studs that are too far out or shimmy out components that aren't far enough.

2. Apply Drywall Boards Horizontally

If you're adding new walls to a room in your house, you should install drywall panels horizontally so that you have fewer seams that you'll need to finish at the end. The horizontal installation also strengthens the wall's structure, protecting your home from the elements and accidental damage. In some rooms, you may not have any vertical seams if you use 12-foot-long drywall panels.

3. Use a Chalk Line to Mark Stud Positions

As you start installing the drywall panels on your walls and ceilings, you can use a pencil to mark the middle of the wall studs on the floor and ceiling, so that you can drive your evenly spaced drywall screws along the studs to secure your sheets.

To make measuring and screwing easier, professionals often snap a chalk line along the boards between the floor and ceiling marks, then secure drywall screws down the stud every foot and a half. If you use a chalk line, make sure that the chalk doesn't bleed through the paint job by making the line light and wiping it away at the end of the project.

4. Snap Panels Instead of Cutting

To cut your drywall sheets successfully, use a utility knife to score the board on one side, and then flip the board around and crack it with a knee. The panel will come apart along the line you scored if you cut it correctly. Complete the cut by folding the board and slicing along the fold from the other side with a utility knife.

5. Order the Appropriate Screws for Your Drywall Size

Instead of using fine-threaded screws, professionals use coarse-threaded screws at the appropriate length for their drywall panels because of the screws' superior holding power. If you use standard half-inch-thick drywall, use 1 1/4-inch-long screws to secure your drywall panels in place.

When you drive the screws, avoid breaking through the drywall paper. The screw head should slightly indent the paper, but if it tears the paper or punctures into the core, its holding power could decrease. In that case, you would need to secure a new screw next to the one that went in too far.

6. Cut Out Holes for Switches and Outlets

If you need to cut out parts of the drywall to allow for obstructions, such as electrical boxes, you would have to carefully measure the openings and transfer the measurements to the wallboards. However, to save time, professionals use a chalk line to indicate the start and edge of each obstruction, then place the sheet along the wall in the correct position.

Hold the wallboard firmly on the wall so that the chalk markings transfer to the back. Take the wallboard away from the wall and use a jab saw to cut the openings based on the marks.

Shop Online for Drywall Supplies

Shop Online at Construction Fasteners and Tools

At Construction Fasteners and Tools, we have everything you need to hang drywall in your home in Canada. Browse through our inventory of power tools, cutting tools, safety equipment, fasteners and hand tools for your DIY project. Contact us online or call 306-668-8880 if you have any questions about our products.