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Drywall is a panel made of gypsum and is used to build interior walls and ceilings. By learning how to cut drywall, even home carpenters can finish a house’s interior themselves. This guide gives you the two simple steps for cutting drywall. It includes information on tools for cutting drywall, plus tips on how to install drywall and measure it.
The first step in learning how to cut drywall is scoring the material correctly. After measuring your drywall, lay a T-square on the right side of the material. Use a pencil to draw a scoring line. With a sharp utility knife or other cutting tool, follow the pencil line and lightly cut through the paper layer of drywall.
The best tools for cutting drywall are utility knives, putty knives, reciprocating saws, oscillating multi-tools and track saws with dust collectors.
Turn the drywall board over and lay it face down. Snap back the board on the cutting line. Use your utility knife to finish cutting through the paper.
Cutting a hole in drywall may be necessary, depending on where it will be installed. You might need to cut a hole for a light fixture or an electrical box for a light switch or an outlet.
How to Buy Drywall
As you learn how to cut drywall, getting an accurate measurement first is crucial. Drywall comes in 4 foot by 8 foot and 4 foot by 12 foot panels. Before you buy your panels, determine the height of your walls, then the length so you can purchase the right size.
Before You Cut
As you figure out how to cut drywall, keep safety in mind.
- Put on safety goggles and a safety mask to avoid dust and asbestos fallout.
- Work around electrical boxes.
- Use dust collectors when working with asbestos.
- Avoid the sharp edges of knives.
- Enlist the help of another person to install large panels of drywall.
To drill a drywall sheet or piece of drywall safely, make sure you’re careful around electrical boxes. Check to make sure nothing is in your way before driving in screws.
How to Put Up Drywall
Here's a few tips on how to install drywall:
- Leave about a 1/2-inch gap between the bottom of the panel and the floor.
- Apply adhesive to the studs to prevent popping nail heads.
- Put the first sheet in place and drive in some nails to hold it.
- The vertical edges of the sheet should attach to studs.
- Score the front side and cut away the paper backing.
- Smooth any rough edges and position the piece.
- Mark the studs and drive in screws to secure the drywall.
Tip: To hang drywall, put your pieces horizontally and avoid placing seams at doorways or windows because they may crack.
Drywall Repair Tips
Common projects that involve cutting drywall include plumbing, electrical or water damage repairs. Once you've correctly cut the drywall, you'll need to use the right drywall repair tools and proper length of screws to pull off a successful repair. In order to repair drywall:
- First, make sure the old drywall is clean and in good condition.
- Use a stud finder to locate existing wall studs. Then, remove the damaged section of drywall between the studs with a utility or putty knife.
- Take down any exposed hardware or outer paper. Then, hang the new piece of drywall in the wall opening, along the edge of the old. You can also patch and repair drywall using a ready-made drywall patch.
- Cover the repair seams with mesh tape and a layer of joint compound to help keep the tape in place.
- Let the compound dry.
Tip: For 1/2-inch drywall, drywall screws should be at least 1 1/4 inches long. With 3/4-inch drywall, you should use 1 3/8-inch screws.
When you know how to cut drywall, you can create custom-sized pieces to install where you need them. Accurate measurements are key. You also need to use one of the best tools for cutting drywall, like a utility knife. You’ll also want to keep safety guidelines in mind as you work.
Ready to get the tools you need to cut drywall? The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.