Where Do You Start When Drywalling a Ceiling?

When you are installing drywall in a room, always start with the ceiling. The reason for this is that the drywall sheets on the sidewalls will support the edges of the ceiling drywall sheets, so it is much easier to install the ceiling first. The ceiling is also usually the hardest area to cover, and this way, you get the worst part over with right away.

Step One

Choose which way to place the long dimension of the wallboards. It is recommended to run the length of the sheet perpendicular to the ceiling joists. It will reduce the chance of joint cracks or nail pops appearing, as well as give maximum structural strength to the drywall installation.

Depending on the length of the drywall sheet you are using and the orientation of the ceiling joists relative to the shape of the room, you should also consider placing the length of the sheets such that you have a minimum number of joints between sheets finish.

When installing drywall on a ceiling, the sheets should be both double-nailed and glued in place. Use drywall and construction adhesive, available in 11 and 29-ounce caulking gun cartridges. The 11-ounce size is easier to use and holds enough for drywalling jobs.

Due to the weight of the wallboard exerting a downward pull on the nails, there is a greater risk of nail pops and joint cracks, but this attachment method will greatly reduce these chances. Cracks and other flaws in ceiling joints are usually much more noticeable than in sidewalls because of the lighting fixtures.

Step Two

Start covering the ceiling in one of the corners, and try to begin with a full sheet. For applying the glue, use a caulking gun, cutting the tip of the glue cartridge at an angle of 45 degrees. On joists located in the center portion of the wallboard, apply a single bead line of glue straight down the middle of the joist. On the joists at the joint edges of the wallboard, apply the glue in a single bead line zig-zag or snake pattern.

Step Three

Nailing Warning- Wear protective eyewear, you will be nailing overhead, and debris may fall. In fact, gypsum wallboard dust is non-toxic but will cause your eyes to burn and keep you from working for a minute or so. Try not to stand directly under the nail you are working on; this will help.

It is recommended to use a drywalling hammer. This is a special-purpose tool that has a rounded head, used to create the dimpling in the wallboard around the nailhead. The face of the head is serrated in a waffle-like pattern to grip the nailhead while nailing. Your nailing pattern should be:

  • On the joint edges of the wallboard sheets, one row of nails six inches apart, an 8 of an inch from the edge
  • On the long-length edges, a row pitched 24 inches apart, 1/8 inch from the edge.
  • Along the joists, the pattern should be (for a 4″ wide sheet) one nail eight inches from the edge, then a spacing of 24 inches, a row of double nailing spaced 2 inches apart, then 24 inches to the next double nailing, and repeat.
  • On butt joints, stagger the nails with a one-inch offset.

Step Four

Before you apply the joint tape and finish to the ceiling, you will install the drywall on the walls.

Step Five

Proceed to the Joint Finishing of the ceiling.

How To Install Drywall On a Ceiling Tips

Here are the ten top things you should know to make your next drywalling project as easy as it can be.

1. Do the proper preparation

Before beginning any new project, you should have an inspection done to make sure that your work will comply with local building codes. You also want to measure your space carefully, so you buy the right amount of drywall.

2. Maintain a consistent climate

You may be surprised to hear it, but the climate of your space can have an impact on your drywalling job. Both temperature and humidity can affect joint treatment. You want to make sure that the area you are working in is at 55 degrees for two days before you start the project and two days after it is completed.

3. Wear protective gear

The dust that comes off of drywall (gypsum dust) can cause a great deal of irritation to your eyes and lungs. You want to make sure that you wear goggles and a mask to protect yourself from any health issues. The air you are working in should also be well-ventilated.

4. Know Your Tools

The first thing you’ll need is a basic utility knife to cut the drywall. A T-square will also be useful when making square cuts, and drywall saw will come in handy when you have to make cuts around obstacles in the room. A keyhole saw will help make cuts for smaller obstacles (like electrical boxes).

You might find that getting drywall up on the ceiling is challenging. If so, then you might look into renting a drywall lift. This tool is used by professionals to hold the drywall in place while it is a nail or screw to the joists.

To put those nails and screws in place, there are two tools you can use. First, there is a drywall hammer. This hammer is made so that it makes a dimple around the nail without actually breaking the surface of the paper. Second, you can use a drywall screw gun. This tool (like the drywall hammer) allows you to sink in the screw without damaging the surface of the paper.

There are also specific tools for finishing. Taping knives of different sizes will help you get a smooth joint. With each layer, you’ll want to use a taping knife that is one or two inches longer than the previous one you used.

5. Know Your Fasteners

You can’t use just any old screws or nails you have lying around to install drywall. There are nails and screws specifically made for drywall that you will need to purchase at your local hardware or home improvement store. You should be using ring shank nails, which will hold the drywall in place and will prevent the nails from popping out later. There are also different sizes of drywall screws depending on the thickness of your drywall.

6. Cutting and Framing

Whenever possible, use a full sheet of drywall. When you need to make a cut, start by scoring the drywall with your utility knife. You should then be able to snap the drywall back and have it break away at the cut.

You want to make sure that all of your studs are securely in place and that they are spaced out evenly. No edge should be unsupported by a distance of more than two feet, and all corners should be nailed.

7. Ensure proper insulation

Before sealing up your walls, you want to make sure that you have inserted the proper insulation. Moisture or vapor barriers are also important to consider.

8. Know Your Compounds

Once your drywall is in place, you’ll want to move on to taping and finishing. Joint compounds come in powder form, or they come in a pre-mixed state. If you are using a powder compound, there are two different textures. The first kind is a taping compound, which is used when at the taping stage. It is stronger and courser than topping compound, which is used for finishing, and coats. There is also an all-purpose compound, which is halfway between a taping and topping compound.

9. Finish the Joints

Before you start taping, ensure that all fasteners are sunk down below the surface. You also want to make sure that corner beads are installed on all of your outside corners.

The taping process is actually a four-step process that should take you about four days. You start with the tape coat, which is when you apply compound to the seams and insert joint paper tape. That first tape coat should level off everything. Your next two layers should smooth the surfaces, and you should be using a slightly wider taping knife for each application. Your final coat is a finishing one.

10. Sand, Prime, and Paint

Now that your drywall is up, you can sand the room and then prime and paint. People are often quick to skip over the sanding process but to ensure smooth walls, you’ll want to devote as much attention to this stage as any of the others.

Author Aaron Walker

Written by: Aaron Walker

I have extensive construction knowledge and I always stay up to date on current events and new technologies and hope to share my knowledge and expertise here. I am focused on green technologies and home improvements that include green living ideas.