Learning how to hang drywall will save you money on your next home remodel.
Although it’s certainly not rocket science, the right tools/materials and a basic knowledge of the “fundamentals” are essential to a job well done.
Today, I break down everything you need to know to hang drywall like a pro, including step-by-step instructions.
Here’s how to hang drywall safely and securely by yourself without calling in the pros.
Tools and Materials You Need
Like any home improvement project, the success of your drywall installation starts with gathering the right tools and materials. Here’s what you need.
The following tools and equipment are essential for drywalling:
Additional tools/equipment you might need include a step ladder, safety equipment (such as eye protection), and a jab saw or drywall circle cutter to cut in HVAC vents, electrical outlets, light switches, and the like.
If you’re installing drywall completely solo (rather than with a helper, which we strongly recommend), a drywall lift is extremely helpful, especially when drywalling a ceiling.
Drywall lift rentals are available.
Remember, these are just the tools needed for hanging drywall – mudding drywall requires an additional set of tools.
Check out our complete list of drywall tools for more info.
Here are the materials you’ll need to hang drywall by yourself:
- Sheets of Drywall
- Drywall Fasteners (Screws or Nails)
- Drywall Shims & Wood Glue
Once again, remember, that this materials list is for hanging drywall – mudding and finishing drywall requires additional materials.
A Note on Drywall Screws
You have two main types of drywall fasteners to choose from – screws and nails.
Drywall screws are typically the best choice. Not only do screws have vastly superior holding strength, but they’re also much easier to remove if you do ever need to remove or replace a drywall sheet.
Each of the four types of drywall screws serves a slightly different purpose, so make sure to select the best ones for your project:
- Coarse Screws – The coarse threads better help secure the drywall panels to the wall studs.
- Fine Screws – Best for securing drywall panels to metal studs. The screw heads are usually smaller.
- Self-Drilling Screws – Ideal for securing drywall to metal studs or metal frames.
- Trim-Head Screws – Not for attaching drywall to studs. Instead, to attach wood trim to drywall boards as a finishing touch.
It’s just as important to select the proper length of screws. The screws should be slightly longer than the drywall panels are thick.
For example, use 1-1/4 inch or 1-3/8 inch drywall screws for 1/2 inch panels and 1-3/8 inch or 1-5/8 inch drywall screws for 5/8 inch panels.
The same measurements apply if you’re using nails instead of screws. If using nails, make sure to select ring-shank drywall nails for extra strength.
Learn more about drywall screws here.
How to Hang Drywall By Yourself
Hanging drywall is a lot easier with a partner. So, before starting your project, track down a helper if at all possible.
Prepare Your Walls
Start by first preparing the room for drywalling.
You’re likely working with the room’s skeleton, so preparation consists mainly of protecting electrical wires and plumbing lines.
Nail protector plates are a cheap and easy way to ensure you won’t accidentally damage your utility lines.
Measure the Drywall
“Measure twice, cut once.”
This age-old carpentry rule of thumb definitely applies to measuring and cutting drywall.
In general, cutting drywall slightly too small is better than slightly too large as excess drywall is prone to cracking and fraying at the edges if you try to force it in like a jigsaw puzzle.
Leave about 1/4 inch on the wall sides to give yourself some wiggle room during installation.
For the bottom edge of the bottom piece, you can leave about a 1/2 inch gap since this will be covered with baseboard or trim later on.
During the measuring process, it’s also wise to mark where you’ll be fastening the drywall to the studs.
Use your drywall square or tape measure to mark approximately every 16 inches for each stud.
You should also mark and measure where any cutouts for doors, windows, and outlets will be on the drywall panels before installation begins.
Panels are available in many different sizes, although the most common drywall size for residential projects is 4×8-feet and either 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch thick (1/4-inch thick panels are also available).
There are also a handful of different types of drywall available, including fire-resistant and moisture-resistant, although standard white board works perfectly well in most scenarios.
Cut the Drywall
Scoring and snapping is the best method to cut larger pieces of drywall for hanging.
Use your utility knife and drywall square to score the top of each drywall sheet. A level or long straight board helps make straighter cuts.
After you’ve scored the drywall, snap it and fold it open to split. Cut through the paper with the utility knife to finish the cut.
Personally, I like to then smooth out the cut edges with a rasp or file for cleaner edges and tighter joints.
Inspect the Wall Studs
If you’re lucky, all of your studs and joists will be relatively flat.
Inspect them before hanging the drywall with a visual inspection (you can double check this with a long, straight board).
Trim any studs or joists that stick out and use a drywall shim (attach with glue) for any sections that are too low.
The straighter the studs and joists, the flatter and more even your new drywall will lay.
Start with the Ceiling (If Applicable)
Always start on top when installing new drywall.
So, this means that if you’re drywalling the ceiling, start hanging panels on the ceiling first.
For ceilings, use drywall screws every 12 inches. Make sure you drill them into the ceiling joists.
Use additional screws where tapered edges meet. Space them every 8 inches, but stay 3/8 inches from the edge to prevent damages.
Hang the Wall Panels
Now that the ceiling is finished, it’s time to hang the wall panels.
Start with the top sheet first. It’s best to always hang drywall horizontally for home installation.
Mark where each stud is located with a pencil. Use your drywall lifter or the help of a partner to lift each panel into place. Drive screws every 16 inches to securely fasten the drywall panel to the wall studs.
After the top panel is in place, firmly fit the bottom panel into position. If you need to make any horiztonal cuts, the cut edge should be the bottom edge of the bottom panel.
Keeping the cut edge on the bottom edge of the bottom panel allows you to cover it up with trim or baseboard and hide any blemishes.
Hanging drywall is just one piece of the puzzle.
After the drywall is hung, it’s time to tape the seams, apply joint compound (usually in three separate layers), and then apply a skim coat.
From here, all that’s left is to prime and paint the drywall. Our guide to the best drywall primers for new drywall will help you here.
DIY vs Hiring a Contractor
At DIY Painting Tips, we’re all about empowering you to complete your own home DIY projects.
But, when it comes to drywall, a full-blown home installation is sometimes best left to the pros.
The fact is that installing drywall is relatively easy – but installing drywall well is pretty difficult.
I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll be able to hang drywall by yourself with my step-by-step instructions above…
But, as a first-timer, your job will almost certainly be a little sloppier than that of a seasoned vet.
In addition to just hanging the drywall, you also have to consider matching the seams, mudding the drywall, and sanding it down smooth, not to mention any demolition work that needs to be done beforehand.
In my opinion, removing and replacing a small piece of drywall is a great DIY beginner’s project.
Installing new drywall in a full room or an entire house, however, is a project usually best avoided by true beginners, unless you already have some DIY experience yourself.
Drywall Hanging FAQ
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hanging drywall by yourself.
Q: Is a second person necessary for hanging drywall?
You can certainly hang drywall yourself if you’re strong enough to lift the panels by yourself or have access to a drywall lift. But working with a buddy certainly makes the job quicker and easier, especially on ceilings.
Q: Where do you start when hanging drywall?
Always start at the top. If you’re drywalling the ceiling, start there. If not, then start with the top wall panel first and hang the bottom section last.
Q: Is hanging drywall hard?
Hanging drywall is labor-intensive and time-consuming, but it’s not difficult. It’s one of those DIY projects that gets easier and quicker with every additional panel you hang.
Q: How do you hang drywall without a stud?
Drywall clips or attaching a piece of wood to the back of existing drywall can help you hang drywall without a stud. You can also add an additional stud if needed.
Final Thoughts on Hanging Drywall
Learning how to hang drywall can certainly feel overwhelming at first.
But, with the right tools, a bit of patience, and some know-how, it’s really not very hard to do at all.
Just remember, the first piece is the most intimidating. But once you hang this piece, each subsequent piece is easier to hang. By the end of the project, you’ll likely feel like a drywalling pro!
Have more questions?
Check out our list of drywall resources, including how to estimate the cost of installing drywall, for answers to the majority of the most common drywalling questions.