How to Cut Drywall
Time Required: Over 1 day
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, 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.
Tip: The best tools for cutting drywall are utility knives, putty knives, reciprocating saws, oscillating multi-tools and track saws with dust collectors.
When it comes to understanding 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.
Follow these safety tips on how to cut drywall, including working around electrical boxes, using dust collectors when working with asbestos, avoiding sharp edges of knives and enlisting the help of another person to install large panels.
To drill a drywall sheet or piece of drywall safely, make sure you’re careful around electrical boxes, and check that nothing is in your way before driving in screws. Put on safety goggles and a safety mask to avoid dust and asbestos fallout.
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.
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 them 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.
Don’t worry if you don’t own all of the tools needed to complete this DIY project. Rent tools and trucks for any project at The Home Depot.