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Drywall Tools and Prep (page 1 of 3)

Find the essential tools needed for installing drywall.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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nail drywall to framing

Preparing for drywall work involves more than just choosing the right type of drywall and the number of sheets you require. You will need to make sure that you have tools that will suit your situation and the room will need to be prepared for the work. Temperature and humidity can also affect your work and determine how quickly the joint compound dries. To make the process even easier, the delivery of drywall panels should be planned to fit within the installation schedule, so you do not have to worry about storing the panels.

Building regulations

Before starting to apply drywall to your wall frames, it is important to schedule an inspection for any interior wall systems: electrical, plumbing, mechanical. If you do not fulfill the requirements of your local inspections, you may need to open walls later. You must comply with all building codes.

Room preparations

As with any DIY work, the room must be prepared for the task at hand. Safety precautions must be made and space must be created for the tools and materials required. At the end of each stage of the process, properly store and stack all materials and tools.


Drywall is best completed in rooms that are ventilated and are no warmer than 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) for at least two days prior to beginning work.


Gypsum dust from cutting drywall can cause eye and respiratory irritation. Protect your eyes and lungs by wearing safety glasses and particle masks, when appropriate, and provide proper ventilation for the work site.

Drywall Tools and Fasteners

Successful drywalling depends upon you having the appropriate tools, and there are tools designed specifically for drywall installation. However, most of the basic tools that you will need are not unique to drywalling. A tape measure, T-square, framing square, chalkline, and pencil will be needed no matter the size of the space and the height of the ceiling. You will also need drywall screws or nails, mixing tools, taping knives, and sanding tools.

Drywall saw
These are designed to rip through the paper face and gypsum core of drywall. The one shown here is a drywall utility saw. Use point to break through material and start cut (Image 1)

Drywall hammer
Has a gently tapered head that creates a natural recess for joint compound. When it strikes the paper surface, it creates a waffle contour that helps lock the compound (Image 2).

Drywall screw gun
Used to drive screws into drywall. It has a clutch so that the drywall screw will go just below the surface of the drywall sheet and dimple the sheet (Image 3).

Utility knife
Used to make cuts through the face of the paper to score the panel before snapping it to length. Make sure the blade is sharp (Image 4).

Screws and nails
Drywall screws are the preferred method of installing drywall, as they provide a more secure and longer-lasting connection. If you have a large drywall job to tackle, try using a self-feeding screw gun to speed up the task. The depth of the screw gun can be modified to work with different thicknesses of board. Screw guns are available in both corded and cordless models. If you use nails, use a drywall hammer.

Mixing tools
When working with joint compound to fill nail holes, secure tape, and fill gaps, you will need mixing tools. You can either mix the compound by hand or use an attachment to your drill — a powered paddle.

Taping knives
Depending on the stage of the drywall process, you may select a knife that is 1–6 in (25–150 mm) wide. Knives are used to embed the tape along a seam and to spread and smooth joint compound.

Sanding tools
After you complete the taping and joint compound application process, you will most likely still need to smooth any imperfections. Sand paper is ideal for small areas and corners. Sanding sponge is another option. For ceilings, a pole sander is a good option.

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009