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Closing Up the Walls: Hanging Drywall

As we follow the Obergs' home construction process, the homeowners take a walk through the house to make sure various facets are in the right place. Also, building scientist Glenn Cottrell explains drywalling.

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hanging drywall

What Is Drywall?

Before the walls of a new home get covered up with drywall, the other subcontractors have done the carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, etc. These are known as the mechanicals rough-in.

Drywall is a fabricated panel of dried plaster sandwiched between two sheets of paper. It's commonly known as gypsum board or plasterboard, and its brand name is drywall. Once it's up changing anything behind it, unfortunately, is expensive. This reason alone is why it's extremely important for any new homeowner to make several walks through the house to make sure all the plugs, jacks, outlets, etc. are in the proper place.

During one of his visits to the house, Brad notices some problems in the home's framing that could create unevenness in the drywall. Once he and the site supervisor are happy with the solution, the drywall process can begin.

The Drywall Process

  • Even though the drywall process is referred to as "one phase" of construction, according to Glenn Cottrell, a Building Scientist for Ibacos, there are actually two disciplines:

    -You typically have a crew that "hangs" the drywall.

    -And you have a crew that "finishes" the drywall.

  • These involve different skill sets and different trades. The first crew, obviously, is the hanging crew. Instead of making the crew carry the drywall sheets through the house and up the stairs, they save time by taking one of the upstairs windows out and hauling the sheets via a lift.

  • A house the size of the Obergs' requires hundreds of sheets of drywall, not to mention the hundreds of gallons of drywall compound — also known as mud.

  • The hanging crew typically charges according to the complexity and square footage of the house. Areas such as bay windows, skylights, archways, vaulted ceilings and odd-shaped rooms cost more because of the extra man-hours it takes to complete the job.

  • Drywallers hang the drywall on the ceilings first and then the walls. Behind each sheet of drywall, the installer runs a bead of adhesive and then screws the sheets to the framing. The adhesive is added insurance against the possibility of "nail pops," which are caused after a long period of time when the wood framing expands and contracts. As wood dries the nails will recede from the stud and the drywall will move away from the shrinking wood stud, which results in a nail pop.

  • Another important aspect of drywalling is the cutting of the holes for plugs and outlets. With accurate measurements and precise cuts, the hangers can finish their work in a matter of days.

Basically, drywalling can be seen as a giant jigsaw puzzle where virtually every square inch is covered.

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