I've given you some hints on cutting batt insulation and cement backer board, so let's move on to sheet rock (or dry wall), the staple of many home wall coverings. It's made of gypsum, has various qualities (e. g. mold resistance, flexible rigidity) and is manufactured in various sizes and thicknesses, the most common being 1/2" x 4' x 8'. On a vertical surface, it goes up pretty quickly and is fairly easily installed by two folks, and with some increased exertion, by one.
I want to show you how to hang sheet rock overhead. It requires tools similar to those needed for cutting backer board plus two very important extra items -- an extra pair of hands (preferably attached to an extra person) and a sheet rock lift. If you can hang sheet rock overhead, you can easily handle vertical surfaces, save a tool rental, and allow your significant other to do something other than muck about with gyp board.
Check out the gallery to get a feel for the process, then read on.
- sheet rock -- add 10% to your measured square footage for waste; don't try to measure in 4 x 8' or 4 x12' increments to save on cuts and joints (the kind where two pieces of material meet); you'll be dealing with studs on (maybe) 16" centers, warped wood, HVAC vents, and electrical penetrations. Get the 4 x 8' size if you can -- the stuff is heavy and clumsy enough as it is, without adding an extra 16 square feet of board to wrestle. Just figure the area, divide by 32 to get the number of sheets, and add the 10% extra (if this is your initial foray into hanging gyp board, perhaps a bit more, and you can have some to "practice" with.) Remember, you can always get more and you'll be a whole lot less aggravated picking up one more sheet than returning one.
- sheet rock screws -- you'll need about 30 screws per 4 x 8' sheet; they come in various lengths; get either the 1 5/8" size or the 2" -- I like the extra length and it doesn't take that much extra effort to drive them.
Time: inexperienced installers, working overhead, will get about 3 sheets an hour in place, depending on the space restrictions, height overhead, etc; be patient -- it does get faster with practice.
a sheet rock lift rents for about $35 a day and is worth many times that amount; it's a bit clumsy to operate but a big help, believe me. Don't start without one unless you're putting up pieces generally smaller than half a 4 x 8' sheet.
the aforementioned extra help; also worth many times whatever you'd give.
utility knife with sharp blades.
straight edge (I use a 4' level) or a T-square
(thanks, Mike J).
small "pencil drill" to cut circular holes for ducts, outlets, etc. You can use a jig saw as an acceptable substitute, but then you have to initially drill a starting hole or wait until the saw blade finishes bouncing off the surface of the board.
Safety: if you are working around existing electrical fixtures, throw the circuit breaker off -- nothing focuses your attention like cutting through a hot electrical line. Also, eye and ear protection, gloves, dust mask, stable work platform; you know the drill.
- Cut the sheet rock as shown in my backer board post -- don't make me go through the whole thing again here. I know that you've already clicked on my post link in the first sentence. It was good for your soul and my stats!
- As depicted in the gallery, the "table" of the lift goes up and down and tilts and telescopes to allow you to easily (sort of) load the various sizes of sheet rock; it also allows you to make the "tweaking" cuts without having to return the piece to the work platform -- very handy. Don't say you won't have to make extra cuts after you position the sheet the first time -- we both know better.
- So, load the sheet rock. Now the fun starts and you'll quickly see how accurate your measurements weren't. Be patient. Home construction is rarely square or plumb; after all, that's what sheet rock is for -- to cover the mistakes, right? You may have to run the lift up and down several times, trimming the edges to get it right. As with backer board, the material can have some ragged edges or gaps. It's going to be taped and mudded, or moulded over at some point, so it's not like finish cabinet work. That said, 1-2" gaps will subject you to muffled laughter and will be more difficult to cover.
- Using your screw gun with (conveniently named) sheet rock screws, drive those babies so that the head of the screw is just below the surface of the board ("dimpled"). If you don't, the finish work will be more difficult. Put the screws in about 1/2" from the ends of the boards and on about 16" centers along the overhead joists, starting from the center of the sheet and working outward. HINT: before you position the sheet rock, note the location of the overhead stud that you're fastening to and you won't be shooting screws into air instead of wood -- not that I've ever done any thing like that.
- The sheets don't have to have staggered joints on the ceiling; there's no strength contribution to be gained, and if you're looking for anti-sway stability, from an engineering perspective I submit that sheet rock is not the answer.
There, you're finished. The next step is to take some pain relievers, a shower and call it a day -- you can hang the second sheet tomorrow!
Finally, of course, the sheet rock has to be taped, mudded, and sanded prior to paint or wall coverings; but that's a post for another time.
Have at it!