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Garage Clutter Busters

How to Add Drywall and Refinish a Garage

Use these step-by-step instructions from the DIY to the Rescue team and turn a garage into a wonderful workshop. Learn how to add drywall and metallic trim to the walls.

More in Remodeling

Step 1: Remove the Old Wall Covering

Removing the old wall covering makes it easier to find the studs attaching the new drywall and avoid driving screws into the pipes and electrical wiring. Be sure to remove any nails left behind from the old wall covering. Some of the nails can be hammered down flat into the studs. The idea is to prepare a fairly smooth surface to receive the sheets of drywall.

remove old wall covering

Step 2: Note the Studs, Vents and Outlets

Mark along the floor surface to the center of each of the studs. Once the sheets of drywall are up, it will be hard to determine where the studs are located. You could use a stud finder to find the studs once the drywall is tacked up, but in this case marking it beforehand is actually more efficient.

Before covering the studs with drywall, take measurements and note the locations of the vents and outlets throughout the room. This will give you a road map to finding them once the drywall covers them. This way you can simply cut those out after the sheets are on the wall rather than cutting them out on saw horses prior to installation.

Step 3: Screw the Drywall

Once everything is measured and marked, it’s time to bring in the drywall sheets. When driving the screws into the drywall, it's important not to screw in too far. It's best to get the screw head just below the paper on the drywall (Image 1). Driving the screws in too deep can compromise the strength of the screws holding the drywall.

With the drywall tacked to the studs along its edges, use a level to transfer the center stud marks on the floor onto the drywall (Image 2). Now you know where to drive the screws and, more importantly, where not to drive them. Screw the drywall panels into place on the studs along the edges of the panels and the stud centerlines.

Step 4: Cut Holes for the Vents and Outlets

Using the measurements from step 3, mark the locations of the vents and outlets directly on the drywall.

Using a drywall saw, tap the tip of the saw into the drywall paper using a hammer and then cut out any holes needed for vents and outlets (Image 1).

Tip: A quick way to get those holes cut is to score the drywall with a utility knife and then simply knock the opening out with a hammer (Image 2).

Step 5: Tape and Mud the Joints and Holes

Tape the seams between the drywall panels with mesh tape (Image 1). This tape is designed to prevent visible cracks from appearing along the joints of the drywall sheets.

Next, it's time for the mudding process. Use a trowel and an all-purpose joint compound to fill in all of the joints and holes. An all-purpose joint compound is designed for use not only for filling the joints and holes in drywall, but also can be used as the topping or skim coat.

Even though joint compounds come pre-mixed, it's a good idea to mix it up a bit once you get the compound in the trough. This will insure that there aren't any lumps.

The edges of the sheets of drywall are recessed or beveled. The reason for this is to allow for the mudding process so that the walls will be completely flat. Apply a narrow strip of compound to the joints -- just enough to cover the tape (Image 2).

Also, make sure to fill the screws with the joint compound. Just partially mud the trowel for filling these since it is such a small area to cover. There is no need to sand between coats, just make sure it dries thoroughly before starting on the skim coat.

Step 6: Apply the Skim Coat

Apply the skim coat using the same all-purpose compound. Make sure to apply the skim coat slightly thicker and in a wider strip. Don't apply it too thick, because that means more compound to sand. The idea is to fill the seams and holes generously enough to make them invisible under the paint. Be sure to smooth out the skim coat with the trowel before the joint compound sets. This will make getting a smooth surface easier when sanding.

apply the skim coat using all purpose compound

Step 7: Sand the Walls

Once the skim coat dries, sand smooth using a fine grit mesh sand paper, like 120 grit, and a sanding pole. The holes in the mesh allow the dust to escape through while sanding rather than collecting on the paper. And, the pole sander gives you better leverage when sanding.

This can also be done by hand with traditional sand paper, just remember not to press too hard and to use a fine grit paper.

Dust off any excess dust once the walls are sanded smooth. Apply one coat of primer followed by one coat of color.

sand smooth using fine grit mesh sand paper

Step 8: Add Metal Trim

This type of metal trim is attractive and functional. It will serve to keep the new drywall from getting "dinged." The strips of metal trim often come in 8' increments. If your wall is more than 8', start by putting on the 8' piece first, then measure the leftover wall area and cut a strip accordingly.

Peel off the adhesive back and stick the trim into place. Make sure to put the tapered in toward the floor. Continue the process on all the walls, doorways, windows and corners.

metal trim is attractive and functional

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