Read these tips and instructions on how to install drywall. Following these instructions can help you to save time and effort and end up with a neater job.


Fig. 1 provides a chart for estimating the number of 4x8 sheets of drywall required for paneling rooms of various sizes. If wallboards of any other size are used, make the necessary adjustments.

Fig. 1
How to Figure a Room for Drywall
Determine the perimeter. This is merely the total of the widths of each wall in the room. Use this conversion table to figure out the number of wallboards needed.
Perimeter No. of 4x8 Wallboards Needed
36' 9
40' 10
44' 11
48' 12
52' 13
56' 14
60' 15
64' 16
68' 17
72' 18
92' 23
For example, if your room walls measure 14'x14'x16'x16', this equals 60' or 15 wallboards required. To allow for areas such as windows, doors, fireplaces, etc., use the deductions listed below:
door = 1/3 wallboard(A)
window = 1/4 wallboard (B)
fireplace = 1/2 wallboard (C)
Thus, the actual number of wallboards for this room would be 13 pieces (15 pieces minus 2 total deductions). Always use the nexy highest number of wallboards when the perimeter total is between ranges shown in the table. These figures are for rooms with 8' ceiling heights or less.


Always start by making a sketch of the wall and ceiling areas to be covered before applying the drywall.

Fig. 2
drywall thickness type of nail approx. lbs. per
1,000 sq. ft. of
3/8", 1/2" 1 5/8" coated type drywall nail 5 1/4 lbs.
5/8" 1 7/8" coated type drywall nail 5 1/4 lbs.
drywall (square feet) estimated amount
of joint compound
estimated amount
of wallboard tape
100-200 sq. ft. 1 gal. 2 - 60' rolls
300-400 sq. ft. 2 gals. 3 - 60' rolls
500-600 sq. ft. 3 gals. 1 - 250' roll
700-800 sq. ft. 4 gals. 1 - 250' 1 - 60' roll
900-1,000 sq. ft. 1 -5 gal. pail 1 - 250' 2 - 60' rolls or 1 - 500' roll
*A powder joint compound is also available. Estimate 60 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. of wallboard.

  • You can easily cut wallboard with a scoring or trimming knife and a 4' straightedge. You may prefer to use a T-square for an even and straight cut (Fig. 3).
  • Measure accurately and make marks before cutting the wallboard.
  • Use a straightedge for accuracy, and score along your marks. Be sure to cut through the paper and into the inner core.
  • Hold the knife at a right angle to the board and score completely through the face paper.
  • The board will break easily at the point where it is scored. After it is snapped, trim the paper on the uncut side with a pair of shears or a sharp knife.
  • Make circular cuts and irregular angles with a keyhole or sabre saw.
  • To cut holes in the wallboard for electrical outlets, light receptacles, switches, etc., carefully measure and mark the location of the opening of the face of the wallboard. Outline the opening in pencil and cut it out with a keyhole saw or circle cutter. The hole must be accurately located and cut to size, or the electrical coverplate may not cover the hole.

  • A single layer wall of 1/2" or 5/8" drywall is the simplest, fastest and most economical type of wall construction.
  • Use a double-layer installation where extra fire protection or sound deadening is important.
  • A double-layer installation also reduces the possibility of cracking and the nuisance of nails popping out if the wallboard warps or strains.
  • In a double-layer installation, a 3/8" finish wallboard is usually laid over a 3/8" backing board.

  • Apply drywall to leave the fewest possible joints. If the ceiling is less than 8'2" in height, use a horizontal application for 25% fewer joints than a vertical one (Fig. 4).
  • If the ceiling is higher than 8'2", install the drywall vertically (Fig. 4). On a two-layer installation, lay the base boards either vertically or horizontally - whichever requires the fewest cuts.
  • Lay the top or finish layer over the base boards according to the preceding instructions. Any seams in the finish layer should be offset at least 10" from the seams in the base layer, or set at right angles from seams.

  • Apply drywall to the ceiling at right angles to the joists.
  • If two layers are installed, set the bottom layer at right angles to the joists and the finish layer the way that leaves a minimum of seams.
  • Holding the ceiling board in position can be difficult. If you are working alone, solve this problem by making a "T" brace from a 2' piece of a 1x4 nailed to the end of a 2x4 of sufficient length to reach from the floor to the ceiling (Fig. 5).
  • The supporting 2x4 should be about 1" longer than the floor-to-floor ceiling height.
  • If you are using only nails, nail the board to the ceiling with the proper length of nails and space them about 7" apart. Ceilings should be double nailed.
  • When using the nail-on and adhesive method, use three nails across each wallboard at each joist. Drive one nail firmly into place at each edge and one into the center of the board.
  • Drive the nails in just enough to tighten the wallboard to the framing. Then set the nail with a blow just hard enough to dimple the wallboard (Fig. 6). Do not drive the nails hard enough to break the coating paper.

  • If the drywall is being applied horizontally, (Fig. 4), install all top boards first. Push it up firmly against the ceiling, do not force it, and nail lightly into place.
  • In areas where ceiling boards are nailed to ceiling joists, start the first run of nails on the wallboards about 7" below the ceiling (A, Fig. 7).
  • If you're applying the wall board with nails only, place all nails about 7" apart to all studs (Fig. 4). If you're using the adhesive and nail-on method, apply nails only at the edges of the board with adhesive on the back to hold the boards to the studs in the center.
  • If a board tends to bow out in the center, secure it with a temporary nail until the adhesive sets. Remove the holding nail after adhesive sets.
  • If wallboards are applied vertically, place the long edges of the wallboard parallel to the framing members (Fig. 4). Use a vertical application if your wall height is greater than 8'2". Use the same nailing procedures as previously described.
  • Special metal corner strips are available for outside corners (Fig. 8). Insert a nail in these metal corner strips about every 5". Nail first through the edge of the strip, then through the drywall and into the wood framing.
  • Use a good grade of joint compound to finish all joints, nail heads and corners. In most cases, you'll need two or three coats of compound at all taped joints. The number of coats depends on whether you are using regular drywall tape or drywall tape that has adhesive on the back.
  • If you are using adhesive back tape, center the tape over the joint and press it into place with your knife. Apply two finish coats over the tape. If you are using regular tape, use an embedding coal to bond the tape at each joint (Fig. 9). When the embedding coat has set, apply two finish coats over the tape.
  • Allow each coat of joint compound to dry about 24 hours before applying the next coat.

  • Use a 4" joint finishing knife to smooth out each coat of joint compound (Fig. 10). Fill in the slightly recessed area created by the adjoining tapered edges of the wallboards, and smooth it off with the 4" joint finishing knife.
  • Center the wallboard tape over the joint and press it into place if you are using the adhesive back tape. For the regular tape press it into the first layer of compound firmly, but not too hard (Fig. 11). Hold the 4" knife at a 45 degree angle. Press just hard enough to squeeze out some of the compound from under the tape, but be sure you leave enough compound for a good bond.
  • With adhesive back tape you can apply the fill coat right away. With regular drywall tape, allow the tape to dry in position for at least 24 hours and then apply a fill coat, extending it a few inches beyond the edge of the tape. Feather the edges of the compound for a smooth finish.
  • After the fill coat has dried, use a 10" joint finishing knife to apply still another coat of joint compound. Feather this coat about 1 1/2" beyond the edge of the first coat.
  • When the final coat is dry, sand it lightly to a smooth finish (Fig. 12). Wipe off the dust with a clean rag to prepare the surface for the final coating of paint, paper, etc.
  • The total width of the compound at each joint should be about 12" to 14" (Fig. 12).
  • All nails should be dimpled just below the surface of the board as shown in Fig. 6. Conceal these dimpled ares by applying a first coat of joint compound with even pressure so the compound is level with the surface of the board (Fig. 13). Press evenly, but not too hard - too much pressure on the knife may scoop the compound from the dimpled area.
  • When the compound has thoroughly dried, apply a second coat. Let it dry thoroughly, then sand it lightly and apply a third coat.
  • In areas where humidity is extremely high, apply a fourth coat of compound over the nail heads.
  • The end or butt joints on wallboards are not tapered. Where these untapered butt joints come together, be sure not to build up too much compound (Fig. 14). Compound built too high will create ridges in the wall, and may cause shadowing when the area is lighted.
  • Feather the joint compound out on each side of the butt joints from 7" to 9" (Fig. 14). The final application of joint compound should create a joint approximately 14" to 18" wide where the butt joints come together.
  • After attaching the metal corner strips as previously described (Fig. 8), nail them securely into position, and use a 4" finish knife to spread compound mix 3" to 4" out from the nose of the bead (Fig. 15).
  • When the first layer is completely dry, sand it lightly and apply a second coat of compound mix., feathering the edges about 2" to 3" beyomd the first coat.
  • If a third coat is needed, feather it 2" to 3" beyond the preceding coat. This cretaes a tapered finish of joint compound approximately 7" to 9" wide at each metal corner.
  • To finish off an inside corner with regular tape, apply joint compound with a 4" knife. Spread it evenly about 1 1/2" on each side of the angle (Fig 16).
  • For both types of tape, cut the joint tape the exact length of the corner to be finished. Fold the tape lengthwise in the center and press it firmly into the corner.

Tool and Material Checklist

Wallboard T-Square Keyhole Saw/Circle Cutter Crown-head Hammer/Drywall Hammer
Reinforcing Tape Joint Compound Screws Adhesive
Drop Cloth Metal Corner Strips Sandpaper Block Steel Rule
Sandpaper 80-100 grit Trimming Knife 8"-10" Drywall Knife Adhesive Gun
Trowel Nails 1x4's & 2x4's for "T" Brace 4" Joint Knife