Epic Basement Renovation! Drywalling — Ceilings

Step 24: Drywalling — Ceilings

Before I started, I thought drywalling a ceiling would be really hard. As it turns out, it isn’t too bad. It certainly helps to be tall, too — my head is only 2 inches from the finished ceiling.

The process of drywalling the ceiling is very similar to the walls. Measure to fit, and screw in place with drywall screws. The trick is holding the sheets in place while you’re working. It can be done if you’re working alone, with the right tools.

MEASURING

This process is similar to walls, with one big difference: To make it easier, place the sheet face down on the floor, and mark dimensions on the back of the drywall sheet instead. For me at least, it’s easier to picture how the sheet will fit on the ceiling, simply by lifting it straight up and into place. Mark height and width on the sheet, and any holes that need to be cut (say, for recessed lighting).

CUTTING

Cut normally, but be extra careful when you score lines. Make sure that when you snap the sheet, you don’t tear away any of the paper on the finished side.

MOUNTING

OK, here’s where things get interesting. The easiest and fastest way to hold a sheet of drywall on the ceiling is with two helpers. Simply position the drywall and drive in screws. You can even use the laser line tool for screwing onto the blind joists — if you position it back far enough, it will draw a line on the ceiling as well. Line it up with the joists on either side of the drywall sheet, and use the line as a guide.

If you’re working alone or with just one other helper, you’ll need to build something called a Deadman. It’s basically a T-shaped support that is slightly taller than the height of the ceiling. It can be made with 2x4s left over from framing.

To use a Deadman, measure and cut the drywall sheet as above. Lift the sheet into place, and have your helper shove a Deadman under each end of the sheet. It should wedge in place and hold the sheet firmly against the joists above. Once the sheet is screwed in place, unwedge the Deadman and move to the next section.

You can do this if you’re working alone too, but I don’t recommend it. In this case, prop one Deadman up against the wall, and set the other one in a place where you can reach it from a standing position. Carefully lift the drywall sheet into place, and rest one end on the Deadman leaning against the wall. Quickly (before your arms give out), reach over and grab the second Deadman and shove it in place at the other end of the sheet. Align the sheet, and firmly wedge both ends in place. Screw in place with lots of screws before the crazy thing collapses on your head.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • The ceiling covers a large surface area, and it’s possible that you may have to line up not only the nice factory-finish edges, but also the rougher ends. In this case, you may want to bevel the edge slightly with a very sharp knife, which will make finishing easier and neater later on.
  • You may end up in a situation where the end of a piece of drywall hangs in mid-air because there is no joist to screw it onto. In a case like this, attach pieces of scrap 2×4 between the joists at 12 intervals prior to screwing on the drywall sheet. With these in place, you’ll have something to attach that loose end to.
  • When measuring the drywall for the ceiling, pay close attention to whether the walls actually meet at a perfect 90 degree angle. They might not, in which case you’ll need to trim the sheet accordingly or it won’t fit properly.

Step 24: Drywalling — Ceilings

Before I started, I thought drywalling a ceiling would be really hard. As it turns out, it isn’t too bad. It certainly helps to be tall, too — my head is only 2 inches from the finished ceiling.

The process of drywalling the ceiling is very similar to the walls. Measure to fit, and screw in place with drywall screws. The trick is holding the sheets in place while you’re working. It can be done if you’re working alone, with the right tools.

MEASURING

This process is similar to walls, with one big difference: To make it easier, place the sheet face down on the floor, and mark dimensions on the back of the drywall sheet instead. For me at least, it’s easier to picture how the sheet will fit on the ceiling, simply by lifting it straight up and into place. Mark height and width on the sheet, and any holes that need to be cut (say, for recessed lighting).

CUTTING

Cut normally, but be extra careful when you score lines. Make sure that when you snap the sheet, you don’t tear away any of the paper on the finished side.

MOUNTING

OK, here’s where things get interesting. The easiest and fastest way to hold a sheet of drywall on the ceiling is with two helpers. Simply position the drywall and drive in screws. You can even use the laser line tool for screwing onto the blind joists — if you position it back far enough, it will draw a line on the ceiling as well. Line it up with the joists on either side of the drywall sheet, and use the line as a guide.

If you’re working alone or with just one other helper, you’ll need to build something called a Deadman. It’s basically a T-shaped support that is slightly taller than the height of the ceiling. It can be made with 2x4s left over from framing.

To use a Deadman, measure and cut the drywall sheet as above. Lift the sheet into place, and have your helper shove a Deadman under each end of the sheet. It should wedge in place and hold the sheet firmly against the joists above. Once the sheet is screwed in place, unwedge the Deadman and move to the next section.

You can do this if you’re working alone too, but I don’t recommend it. In this case, prop one Deadman up against the wall, and set the other one in a place where you can reach it from a standing position. Carefully lift the drywall sheet into place, and rest one end on the Deadman leaning against the wall. Quickly (before your arms give out), reach over and grab the second Deadman and shove it in place at the other end of the sheet. Align the sheet, and firmly wedge both ends in place. Screw in place with lots of screws before the crazy thing collapses on your head.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

  • The ceiling covers a large surface area, and it’s possible that you may have to line up not only the nice factory-finish edges, but also the rougher ends. In this case, you may want to bevel the edge slightly with a very sharp knife, which will make finishing easier and neater later on.
  • You may end up in a situation where the end of a piece of drywall hangs in mid-air because there is no joist to screw it onto. In a case like this, attach pieces of scrap 2×4 between the joists at 12 intervals prior to screwing on the drywall sheet. With these in place, you’ll have something to attach that loose end to.
  • When measuring the drywall for the ceiling, pay close attention to whether the walls actually meet at a perfect 90 degree angle. They might not, in which case you’ll need to trim the sheet accordingly or it won’t fit properly.


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