how to hang drywall on walls by yourself

Have you ever watched anyone hang and/or finish drywall? If they were experienced at their profession, odds are they made it look pretty easy and incredibly fast. Well, if you have a room or area of your home or office which is in desperate need of some drywall repairs and you are thinking of tackling it one weekend by yourself or with a few buddies: It is by no means easy nor incredibly fast!

Although finishing drywall isn’t like performing brain surgery, it can be pretty darn tricky. Just mixing up a bucket of drywall mud can be tricky enough, applying it smoothly to prevent your arms from falling off while sanding is an entirely different story.

If the mud is too thin, it creates a sloppy mess that doesn’t dry well and requires applying more coats of mud later. If it is too thick, it dries way too fast, gets supper clunky and requires even more work to fix.

Even if you get the mud mixed as perfectly as possible, once you start applying it over the seams between the sheetrock boards, you quickly wish you would have hired a professional. That being said, this doesn’t mean it is impossible to accomplish.

The process of mixing the mud and applying it to the seams can be quickly picked up by even the most inexperienced do it yourselfer. The main thing is having the right tools and knowing how to use them properly.

What you’ll need: Tools

  • Electric drill
  • Mixing Paddle for mixing mud
  • Couple of metal 12” long mud pans
  • 12” mud knife
  • 10” mud knife
  • 8” mud knife
  • 6” mud knife
  • Utility knife (carpet knife/box cutter)
  • Sanding pole
  • Sand paper for pole (at least 3-4 sheets per room)
  • Dust masks
  • Safety glasses
  • A good hammer
  • Nail apron or tool belt

Once you have the tools, now you need to figure how much material you will need. By getting as accurate an estimate as possible when figuring out how much material you will need, you will greatly reduce project down times by running too low on certain materials, as well as prevent excessive waste ($costs$) by having way too much of any one thing.

In order to accurately calculate the materials you will need, you will also need a few tools specifically for this part of the project.

  • Pen/pencil
  • Tape Measure (25ft-50ft)
  • Small notebook/paper
  • Calculator

Calculating Drywall Board

If you plan on hanging the drywall boards yourself, then you will need an accurate count of how many you will need. To do this, take your tape measure and place it along the bottom of the first wall to the right of the entry point.

Measure the distance from one corner, across the baseboard (to get the straightest line possible), to the next. Write the number down and move on to the next. Once you have measured around the bottom of all the walls, add your numbers together.

For instance, if the lengths are 12ft, 12ft, 10ft and 12ft, then you have a total perimeter of 46ft. Disregard doorways, windows and little nooks because the idea is to cover these up with solid sheets of drywall board, then cut them out later with a router or utility knife.

Now, drywall board comes in 4×8 sheets. Indeed, there are some 4×12, however the typical ceiling is 7-8ft so for a room that has a perimeter of 46ft, we will need 12 4×8 sheets to cover all the walls. If you want to cover the ceiling as well, do the same measure tip along the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling.

Whatever the total number is, just divide it by 4 to get the total number of 4ft wide drywall boards you will need. Now, measure the distance from floor to ceiling. If your ceiling is indeed 8ft, multiply that by the perimeter (46ft) to calculate the square footage of the room. For our room here, the total square feet is 368sq foot.

If this will be your first attempt at hanging drywall, it would not hurt to buy one or two boards extra in the event you make a mistake or two.

The nails used to hang drywall are sold by the pound. A 5.5 pound box of drywall nails will hang a room of roughly 1000 sq ft. So for a room of 368 sq ft, you would need roughly 2lbs of nails. When you place the board along the wall or ceiling, you will need to place a nail along each corner, down each side (roughly 1 ½ feet apart) and then down each stud through the middle.

A good rule of thumb here is to place a pair of nails (about 2-3 inches apart), every couple feet. This helps to better secure the board completely to the wall/ceiling. After you have hung all boards, cut out light and electrical holes, windows, doorways etc. It is a good idea to take your hammer and walk around the room pushing on your boards.

Pay close attention to the seams and nails. If the board pushes inward and allows the seams/nails to move up/down, you might want to add a few nails or drive the ones there little further. Try hard not to bust the board, but if you do, do not fret – that can be covered by mud later.

Figuring Amount of Mud/Compound

In order to calculate the amount of mud needed to finish your project, remember that it takes about one gallon of mud/joint compound to cover two hundred square feet. So for 368 square feet, we would need almost 2 gallons of compound. Now here I would suggest a 5 gal bucket. Not only will you have plenty for covering mistakes, but you will have little left over for other things you might could fix around the house, while painting your project room.

Next you are going to need drywall board tape. This comes in either a solid paper form, or a mesh sticky kind. I like using the mesh for long or large areas, but the paper type for holes, busted places and areas harder to cover.

For outside corners, you will need one corner bead for each outside corner. Corner beads come in lengths of about 10-12ft, so just use tin snips to trim off excess to fit perfect. Place a nail every foot along both sides and ensure the bead has no movement (like with walls).

Now you are ready to mix mud and get to work.

Taping and Mudding

Take a roll of drywall tape and apply one end to the bottom of your seam. As you roll upwards, use your 6 inch mud knife to smoothly apply it to the wall. Once you reach the top, take your mud knife and apply pressure while pulling downward on the tape to cut it. More you do, the easier this gets.

After taping all the seams, open your bucket of mud. Plug up your drill and attach the mixing paddle. Stick the paddle through center of the mud. Pour about 2-3 cups water into the mud. Place one foot on the rim of the bucket to hold in place. When you hit the drill, the bucket is going to want to spin or jump, so hold it down tight!

Start mixing. You are looking for a texture of a smooth pancake batter. You can add little more water if you like, but keep it little on the thick side. Once to your liking, use your 6 inch knife and begin scooping the mud into one of your metal pans. About 3/4- full.

Seams

The mud is kind of heavy, but will not last long. Using your 8 inch knife, scoop out a generous amount and slap it long ways into the seam towards the bottom of wall. Careful not to touch the floor or get any trash, dust, saw dust or dirt into the mud. This makes it extremely difficult and causes a lot of extra work.

Using your 8 inch knife, press firmly into the mud and sweep upwards. You are wanting mud to remain in seam and just a thin layer on each side of the board. The longer the sweep, the better. Then start at top and do the same downward until you overlap the area just completed.

Corners

Move on to the next seam and repeat the process over and over until all seams have been covered. Now take your paper tape and cut it the length of the inside corners. Bend it inward and allow the inside bend to rest in the corner with just an inch or so on both sides.

Using your 6 inch knife, slap mud up and down each side and sweep the same as with the seams. Up and down on each side. You want to leave little mud in corner as possible. Place your pre-cut tape into the corner and press it into the mud. Take your knife to smooth it out. Now apply mud to the outside and smooth it out, leaving as little as possible on this first coat. However, you want your tape to stick, just not push all the mud out from under.

Corner Beads

Apply a generous amount of mud on both sides of your corner beads. Using your 8 inch knife, smooth it out as much as possible. Remember, this is the first coat, so do not worry if not exactly perfect. The next coat will cover better.

2nd Coat

The 2nd coat will go on easily and much faster than the first. By now, the knife is comfortable in your hand and you’re finding a rhythm. This time, use your 10 inch knife. Now your seams are widening out and getting to look smoother surfaced.

The idea of the second layer of mud is to cover any imperfections from the first coat, while also better preparing the surface for sanding. Before apply mud however, walk around the room, scraping the dry seams with one of your bigger knives to scrape off little burs that will contaminate your next coat of mud and cause problems.

Mud over everything for a second time and ensure no deep scratches or dents are still visible. A good idea here is to take your 12 inch knife and place the blade across the seam. Do you see any gaps between the blade and wall? If so, mud again.

3rd Coat

Repeat the same process all over again, except this time, use the 12 inch knife. Try extremely hard to get this as smooth as possible and prevent excessive sanding.

Allow all the mud to dry completely. Sand the walls vigorously. Once finish sanding, sweep off the dust with a broom. Sanding produces an enormous amount of dust, so wear your goggles and dust mask.

After sanding, take a pencil and walk around the room looking for scratches and deep burs, dents or areas where the sand pole scratched the drywall board. Cut any lose paper off and mark a circle around scratches and areas needing a touch up of mud.

Once dry, sand these areas again. You can also detect imperfections by using a flash light. Place the flash light against the wall and allow the beam to shine across the wall. If you see marks and scratches, circle them so you will know where to mud.

Touch up all areas, allow to dry and re-sand them. Once the walls are smooth, scratch free and all the nails have been covered with at least two coats of mud, you can now sweep them off again, look hard for more areas to touch up and paint the color you like.

The main thing to remember is this: Any place you mess up, you can also cover up. As long as you can sand it smooth, nothing is impossible to cover up and no one will ever see it once painted.