My Experience with Dry Wall

As I mentioned in my previous post and the about Dennis section, I have been working as a general contractor for a very long time.  Throughout that time, I have always had my boss convince the homeowners they were interested in either drywall or plaster walls. Since I discussed plaster walls with my readers last week, we will be diving into the more common and more economical option of drywall.

Drywall Basics

Depending on who is selling you the product, they may call drywall dozens of different names in an attempt to upcharge you. If that is the case, just know that drywall, wallboard, gypsum board, and sheet rock are all essentially the same thing – a sheet of material coated with a heavy piece of paper on both sides. The benefit of this construction, is the ease of application, you don’t have to worry about drywall cracking or developing a textured appearance over time like you will with plaster walls.  Additionally, it is cheap and lightweight!

Dry Wall Panels

Dry wall is always purchased in pre-cut panels but can always be slit down to size depending on the area of your walls, and whether you are looking to install all new walls fresh in a home, or replace a single broken panel. We had a piece of drywall cave in because the dog slid on the wooden floor and his snout broke through the wall!  In our case we just needed to replace a single 8 foot panel that was about 4 feet in width… the wife also thought it was a good idea to repaint the whole hall way, but we’ll get into that next time.

Drywall panels are usually about 1/2 inch in thickness and can vary in the length and width depending on where you buy it.  The one thing, I will note is it dry wall is generally prone to water-logging and becoming moist. After all, it is just a bunch of rocks coated between two thick pieces of paper. If you’re looking for something more water resistant, I would recommend checking out cement board, but in my experience we never installed that in new homes unless a homeowner specifically requested that.

Applying Drywall Panels

After you’ve went out and measured the area you are looking to repair or replace, you should have a good idea on how many panels and their measurements that you’ll need for your project.

Wooden Studs

Assuming that you have the materials, you’ll need to pound those bad boys up. I would recommend using building nails or screws if you are working with wooden studs, which is ultimately the most common building material in the United States.  The wooden studs you’re working on should be free of nails from the existing material, and have enough surface area to support the installation of the new dry wall. If this is not the case, make sure you remove an non-critical nail in the wood stud so when the new sheet of drywall is hung and nailed to the wall it will lay flat.

Metal Studs

I’ve only really run into this in a single home, and to be honest I was a bit confused. For the most part steel studs in the walls are significantly more expensive than their wooden counterpart. And when I worked on this home, it was a newer development where I was subcontracted to install the basement drywall. The homeowner in this instance wanted to make sure that the structure in the basement wouldn’t warp and would be more resistant to fire damage. When working with metal studs it’s pretty simple to just make sure that you use screws that are compatible with the metal beams.

Drywall Finishes

I’m hoping that all my readers were able to install drywall with relative ease considering it was as simple as screwing in a piece of gypsum board (same thing as dry wall!).  In any event, the overall wood finish will be the most critical part of the installation because that is what the homeowner will be left with and have to life with.

Textured Drywall

If you decide to go with textured drywall, I have always been the most pleased with a fine texture that was sprayed on using paint. This gives just a subtle enough appearance to look textured but not jump out as flashy or fancy.

Smooth Drywall

This is the most common form of dry wall, where the gypsum board is just coated with a thicker paper. This paper will be primed and painted to the homeowners taste. In my experience, when they pick out a color to be applied right when the home is built, you will get a call back within the first year to repaint it because the color wasn’t what they thought it would be.

Anyways, that’s what I have for drywall and plaster walls.  I’ve enjoyed installing both in my days as a subcontractor because these were simple jobs


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