Today I would like to give some basic tips on how to install drywall, otherwise known as sheet rock. It comes in various thicknesses, and each type of drywall has it's own applications and uses, but first let's get our surfaces ready.
1. PREPARATION. I recommend installing drywall directly to the wall studs or ceiling joists. Some contractors and handy men just install new drywall over the old ones, or paneling, or lath wall. This is a poor installation method due to the fact that the new drywall cannot be securely fastened because of screws missing the studs, unknown electrical or plumbing lines behind the old wall, etc. When I see these installations, I generally attribute it to laziness, they didn't charge enough to remove the old drywall, so on and so forth. There can be moisture, leakage, or termite issues going on behind these walls, so remove everything to the bare studs. Check the insulation ( if any ), the conditions of the studs, and plumbing and electrical lines ( if any ). If everything is good, check to make sure the studs have all nails and screws removed, and is generally smooth and plumb( check plumb by using a 6 ft. level.)
2. WALL INSTALLATION. Begin by measuring the length and height of the wall to be covered. Install the drywall with the 8 ft. length horizontal to the studs, if the studs are 16' center the drywall should line up to 7 of the studs with the last stud on center. continue installing, measuring and cutting the last piece. To begin the next row, install a full drywall sheet atop the row you just finished, to create a staggered effect, making sure they line up to the studs correctly. THE KEY TO A GOOD DRYWALL INSTALLATION IS TO STAGGER THE SHEETS. If the drywall seams line up in a 'cross' pattern, this creates a weak point in the installation, and can be prone to crumbling.
3. CEILING INSTALLATION. Installing drywall on ceilings is more difficult than walls, generally it requires two people working together. If you are working by yourself, it is a good idea to rent a drywall lift for this project, working overhead wears your arms out faster and the lift is a tremendous help. Or you can construct what is known in the trades as a 'dead man', which is basically two by four lumber screwed together to hold up the drywall while it is being screwed. make sure the joists are exposed and all nails and screws removed. measure and install full sheets, staggering them as you move along. Measure and mark cuts for lighting and any other ceiling fixtures. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER TO STAGGER THE SHEETS, ESPECIALLY FOR CEILINGS. Failure to do so will result in sagging ceilings, as gravity pulls on the weak points. you would have to constantly plaster the weak spots, but eventually the ceiling would fall down, or have to be taken down.
4. TIPS ON PLASTERING. For wall joints I prefer to use the perforated drywall tape, on corners and where the ceilings meet the walls I prefer to use the standard drywall tape. Using a small plaster knife (4 inch) tape all of your joints, embedding the tape as you go, smoothing out any bubbles. Let it dry thoroughly, then lightly sand smooth. Using a wider plaster knife (7 inch) plaster all seams again, letting it dry thoroughly. Sand lightly. for the final coat, use a slightly larger plaster knife (10 inch) and plaster all seams again, let it dry and sand it to get it ready for primer and paint. Most contractors use a minimum of 3 plaster coats on drywall, which is what I also recommend.
5. RECOMMENDATIONS. For walls, use 1/2' drywall or thicker, for ceilings use 3/8' drywall ( except in kitchens and baths, where you should use 1/2' moisture resistant drywall), for wood wall studs use 1 1/4' coarse drywall screws, for metal wall studs use 1 1/4' fine thread drywall screws, I don't recommend drywall nails, they have a tendency to come loose, resulting in 'pop outs'. For ceilings use 1 1/2' to 1 3/4' coarse screws. Make sure to use fire-rated drywall in basements, and moisture-resistant drywall in kitchens and baths, Double check the building codes in your area to verify the correct types and thicknesses. Use these tips as a guideline for your drywall installation, and you should have excellent results.