DIY Drywalling… Is Hard

March 02, 2011   //  Posted in: DIY, Other Pads   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

Drywall installation exhaustion. Alternate post title: Now I Have Kelly Ripa Biceps.

This whole gutting and drywalling thing is taking longer than I thought. Pete reminds me that he fully expected renovating a bedroom at his parent’s house to take two months, since we’re limited to working on the weekends, and not even both days of every weekend. He was right, that’s that. To catch you up, we started by stripping the lath and plaster (and bat poop) out over the course of one weekend, and then spent another weekend insulating and installing a new window. It’s warm, it’s quiet, it’s ready for drywall, which, if you haven’t deciphered yet, is the topic of this post.

I wasn’t there to photograph Pete hauling drywall, but it ended up being in rough 60 MPH winds. I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to lift a piece of drywall, but it’s pretty heavy and awkward even without mother nature’s effects. He shot this quick video as they waited for some winds to die down, and yes, I even received permission to share it with the world:

The drywall is not only inside and safe from the elements, but it’s also installed following one very laborious weekend. And it’s going great!

No, seriously, I can’t mislead you. It was frickin’ hard. Doing the ceilings was the worst part, as you might imagine. The soundtrack to the day would have sounded very much like me undergoing a Jillian Michaels workout on The Biggest Loser campus. Screams, groans, grunts, cursing, just imagine us juggling medicine balls, but make them flattened and four times as heavy, wobbly, fragile, and balanced on our heads.

One board at a time, we brought the drywall upstairs. Pete pulled/carried, I pushed. Once in the room, we measured the distance between ceiling joists, since they were unevenly spaced we did a lot of custom work to make them land on center to the joists.

Our progress (note how I won’t say “success” until it’s actually done) can be attributed to two phenominal inventions:

1) My new best friend the 48″ drywall square. Without this $12 investment, we would have had lots of sloppy, uneven lines. This made measuring and slicing the drywall easy.

Drywall T-square. A must-have for drywalling DIY'ers.

And 2) Pete’s DIY’ed supporting T, which made it possible for us to install on the ceiling without recuiting the help of drywall-lifting equipment or heavyweight titleists. Developed from basic 2×4 boards, it was carpeted with some scrap fabric from the workbench project. The whole point? It was much easier to have a third person (Pete’s Dad) on the ground levering the T to be pressed tight against the ceiling while Pete and I drilled into the ceiling on our respective step ladders. This basically made the whole operation possible.

It took us approximately 4 hours to do the ceiling. Have you ever held a sheet of drywall and drill above your head for 4 hours? This is the kind of thing that it might be worth contracting out, now that we’ve lived it.

We shared drywall scoring and cutting responsibilities. With the help of that drywall square and a blade, a quick straight-line score is enough to snap the drywall perfectly. And of course I loved discovering the beautiful fiber strands that were exposed when the drywall was cut.

The walls went up much easier than the ceiling. We installed the boards horizontally (instead of vertically) to allow for easier taping and mudding (DIY network was inconsistent in this direction). We started by installing the sheets along the top half of the room, and then did the lower-half last. Trim is going back on the bottom, so levelness was very close but is fortunately going to be hidden The lower half was only slightly more challenging than the top because we had to hand saw the outlet holes, but there was a lot of custom work to fit boards around windows and the doorway.

Custom saw job to make way for a window. And, unrelated, but I’m rarely able to tire the dog out, so when the moment arose, I borrowed him as a pillow.

Hard to tire out the puppy. He's letting me relax on him? And then all of a sudden (OK, remember this is over two long non-union days) it was done.

Phew, all of the drywall is UP. Because we’re overachievers, we put in an extra few hours working on the taping and mudding. Pete did the long lines, I focused on the screws. Teamwork.

Taping and mudding post-drywalling.

That brick is going to remain exposed (it was plastered in before) and Pete’s going to create a nice hardwood detail in the part that slopes back down to the wall. But before we get to that, the drywall is ready for it’s first sanding, which hopefully will happen next weekend!


  • Irene
    7 years ago - Reply

    Oh My God! The worse par of it is drywalling the ceiling. WHAT? Dryalling, mudding, and taping totally sucks when you have to look and reach above your head constantly.

    I feel your pain, sista. We are almost done with ours, thank god!

    • Emily
      7 years ago -

      YES. I also am in the process of engineering a cordless drill that weighs less than 1 pound. I think it’ll make me my millions.

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