Drywalling Basics

If you’ve never worked with drywall before, prepare yourself for some surprises. The first will come when you pick up a sheet of this basic building material. Drywall is heavy thanks to its rock-like core, but if you mishandle a panel, it will bend and break under its own weight.

Dry wall is kind of like a cross between plaster and plywood. Plywood comes in layered, uniformly sixed sheets. Plaster is is dense, non-combustable, nooise retarding and prone to crumbling once you break through its paper face.

Since it’s fragile, it is easy to work with. You can cut it with a utility knife and a straight edge, or a keyhole saw. Using a power tool is not any easier and makes a lot of dust.

Although you can chop through drywall with just about anything, don’t think that it’s weak. Once nailed, glued, or screwed to studs, it becomes an important part of the wall structure. It can be used as a base for paint, ceramic tile, or paneling. It can also be double layered for fire control and sound reduction.

Drywall usually comes in 4×8 foot panels that between 3/8 and 5/8 inch thick, and can be ordered from 6 to 16 feet. Check the building codes before you buy since the applications may vary. Most use a 1/2 inch for home construction while others may call for “Type-X” which has a core that’s even more fire and sound resistant. The 3/8 inch drywall is only used for double layers on an existing wall.

When nailing up 3/8 and 1/2 inch drywall use about 5 and 1/2 pounds of ‘ring-shank drywall nails’ for every 1,000 square feet of wall surface. The nails come in different lengths for different thicknesses.

You’ll need drywall screws and an electric drill if you are attaching to metal studs. If you have the money to spare, you should use screws in wood studs because they cant pop loose like nail will sometimes. For a really strong installation you can use nails and a special drywall adhesive. For every 1,000 feet of drywall you’ll need eight tubes of adhesive

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