DIY Network

Walls: Covers

Learn the basics about installing drywall.

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drywall is a common way to cover walls

Drywall comes in various sizes for specific applications. A standard drywall panel is normally 4' x 8', but they also are available in 4' x 10' and 4' x 12' — and certain custom sizes are manufactured and available but aren't commonly used in most residential construction.

Architects will specify certain drywalls for certain locations — bathrooms, for instance, which need specific waterproof drywalls, such as green drywall. This is a water-resistant product that's used in wet areas, and it's installed underneath tile.

Installing Drywall


  • Drywall is usually marked and scored with a straightedge and a tool known as a drywall knife. The drywall is marked and scored on one side and then the center part breaks as you click the drywall and then you score it on the other side with the knife again. This process results in a "clean" cut through both of the paper surfaces.


  • The drywall seam is centered over the center of a framing member, and once you've done that you go in and attach the drywall with either drywall nails (also known as drywall nails with large heads) or drywall screws. The drywall screws can be either fine or coarse threaded. Normally a fine threaded screw is used when attaching to a steel frame, and a coarse threaded screw is used when attaching a wood frame — and the screws are run at a particular interval on each side.


  • Next the mud is applied to the screw or nail holes. Drywall compound — a gypsum, plaster-based compound — can either be mixed with water and prepared on-site or it can be bought at most home supply outlets pre-mixed in five-gallon tubs.


  • The next step is to tape the seams by using either fiber tape or paper tape. In the case of paper tape, you'll apply a small coat of mud to the seams and then stick the tape to that and imbed the tape into the seam. Apply a small skim coat over the tape.


  • The wallboard comes with a naturally tapered edge. When you wipe down the tape, you want to make sure that the wallboard is embedded. If it's humped up or it's out, the next time you come to put on a coat, it's going to be hard to cover.


  • After embedding the tape give it ample time to dry.


  • Once it's dry you'll go back and apply the second coat of mud. This coat is the finish coat if the application is perfect. Many times it takes three coats.


  • The final stage of drywalling is to carefully sand down the seams to make a perfectly flat surface.

In addition to drywalling, there are other methods used to cover the wall studs. One of them is plastering. A metal lath sheeting is attached to the studs and layers of plaster are applied over it for the finish.

Another wall covering comes in wood panel sheets. Most are 4' wide, 8' high sheets with a thin veneer surface — and come in various styles, patterns, wood types and qualities.