As mentioned in my last post, I've been working on installing drywall (also known as gypsum board, Gyprock, Sheetrock, wallboard, or plasterboard). Drywall is basically a big rectangle of paper-coated plaster-and-fibers; great for walls and ceilings alike. However, like everything else in construction, it has its foibles.

First, drywall comes in several thicknesses. You don't want the really thin stuff, or it'll warp and sag; you also don't want the super-thick stuff, because it's freaking heavy, and generally more expensive. Walls should have 1/2", unless you have a reason to go bigger (fireproofing, for instance). Ceilings should probably stick with 5/8", unless your stubs are really close together. In wet environments like a bathroom, you'll want to use greenboard - drywall with a green paper that repels water.


Putting up walls is easy. Measure how tall the wall is, cut the drywall to match, and you're done. If you are lucky enough to have a ceiling that's 8, 10, or 12 feet tall, you can get drywall that exactly matches the height; if you have 16 or 24 inches between centers on your studs, you don't even have to cut anything, just slap it up there. Of course, in my case, I have all sorts of various distances between studs, which means I need to cut most of the boards to fit. Still, it's not so bad; measure twice, cut once, and all that.

Ceilings, on the other hand, are much harder. Again, if you have a standard sized room, then ceilings aren't so bad; however, if the distance between studs isn't just right, then you're not going to have a good time. The distance between studs in my ceiling aren't exactly straight. No ones fault in particular; it's really hard to make anything straight when all the walls are crooked. But really, that's not the hardest part of putting up a ceiling. See, when you put up a wall, as long as it's measured and cut correctly, you just hold it against the wall with one hand (or even stuff a board under it to hold it off the ground, if you need to), and put in two or three screws. That's enough to keep it from moving around. Ceilings, even measured and cut perfectly, take a lot more effort. They're heavy - as mentioned above, 5/8" thick instead of 1/2". And gravity is working against you; I can't simply lean a piece of drywall against the studs. I need a helper to assist me in lifting it into place, then brace it with a custom drywall-holding-board I made. Then (on a ladder, over my head) I put in at least five screws, one on each corner and one somewhere near the middle. Even then, it may pop out of place and smack me on the head. It's not really safe until it's been filled with a fairly large number of screws.

There are a few more tricks, too. You want your walls to be as close to the ceiling as possible - they will support the ceiling and keep it from sagging. That also means you should put in ceilings first. You also want to stagger wall and ceiling seams; with two seams right next to each other, it's more likely to get cracks.

Greenboard is not quite as strong as normal drywall. Ceilings set on studs 24 inches apart tend to start drooping over time, it seems; for 1/2" greenboard, you need studs that are only a foot apart, while for 5/8" greenboard, you need 16 inches. That's what I have - 5/8" greenboard, on studs 16 inches apart. Well... close, anyway. Parts of it are much less than 16". Regardless, it's a good idea to caulk any gaps between surfaces that might get wet, and paint them with gloss or semi-gloss paint, designed for wet areas (like bathrooms).

At the time of this blog, I've finished the ceiling in the nook, all but a sliver of ceiling in the hallway, and half the ceiling in the closet, as well as most of the nook walls, a third of the closet walls, and a thin slice of the hallway wall. Walls are much easier. I expect to be done with the closet and hall ceilings by tomorrow, and hopefully the bathroom ceiling by the end of next week.

If I can buy a door for the bathroom tomorrow, then I'll be able to move the closet door, which means I'll be able to install the doorway drywall as well.

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