How NOT to Install Drywall

Posted by Laura Firszt | Dec 15, 2014
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Photo: MUmland/morgueFileDrywall (aka plasterboard, wallboard, or Sheetrock) is a boon to the do-it-yourself weekend handyperson. This useful substance, composed of two heavy sheets of paper sandwiching a layer of gypsum plaster, is fast and easy to hang and to repair. Its qualities of insulation and fire resistance are excellent. And eco-friendly drywall offers great-looking walls for an affordable price. "What could be bad about that?" you ask. Well, there's only one problem ... drywall is so simple to use that sometimes people get carried away. Instead of going that little extra distance to do it right, they seem to be following the "tips" below, which explain to the would-be DIYer how NOT to install drywall.

HOW *NOT* TO INSTALL DRYWALL: A Recipe for Disaster

1. Order less material than you need so you end up having to patch it together. Ignore what you've read online about allowing a safety margin of 10 percent extra, and the cost of drywall being only ten dollars or so for a 4 x 8 sheet. Every penny counts these days, amiright?

2. Neglect to organize the correct tools. Besides sheets of wallboard, most people have the following supplies on hand: tape measure, pencil, utility knife, drywall screws, and spiral saw. That's not your style, though -- you prefer to live dangerously!

3. Assume that your drywall installation project will not create a dust storm in your house. Breathing masks and safety goggles are for sissies. Turn off the a/c so dust won't spread through your duct system? Don't be paranoid.

4. Plan to install your drywall vertically. Horizontal placement can reduce the necessary taping by 25 percent, especially if 12-foot sheets are used instead of the standard 8-foot length. But hey! You've got plenty of time to kill.

5. Cut the Sheetrock exactly to fit. Your neighbor might do it differently, by leaving a gap at the edges of ¼ to ½ inch. He might care about the possibility of crumbling or breaking a drywall edge if it's wedged in too tightly. You? You just hum a chorus or two of "Que Sera Sera" and get on with the job.

6. Mark all your measurements on the drywall using a Sharpie instead of a pencil. So what if the ink will bleed through when you paint the plasterboard? It comes in 39 brilliant colors, man!

7. Hack at your material with a blunt blade. Even though sharp knives will make a cleaner cut and won't tear the paper facing, "use what you've got" is how you roll.

8. Switch out the blade for a saw. Whaddaya mean that scoring and breaking the drywall panel is quicker and neater?

9. Start hanging your drywall without adequate framing to support it. Even though on DIY television shows, they're likely to add blocking if needed, everyone knows you shouldn't believe everything you see on TV. Heck, they probably even mark where the framing is located before they start installing drywall. Bunch of wimps!

10. Position the material by yourself, without asking a buddy to help or renting a cradle lift. Hefting sheets of drywall is a great workout for the old biceps, and who'll really notice if they end up a little crooked?

11. Place drywall seams at the corner of a door or window. It's just too much trouble to notch the plasterboard around this type of opening. Even though the seams will probably crack as the building settles, you can't see that happening in your lifetime.

12. Nail the plasterboard -- it's easier. The so-called experts say that drywall screws will hold it in place better, with less of a tendency to pop out through the wall surface, but what do those guys know?

Laura Firszt writes for

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