Drywall Installation Tips for High Ceilings

Make sure to use drywall screws when installing drywall to reduce the frequency of nail pops. Rent a drywall lift or hoist to take the hassle out of installing drywall on ceilings and upper walls. Also make sure you install it properly for the kinds of studs you have.

How to Install Drywall Properly
Installing drywall is hard work for most do it yourselfers. Even remodeling contractors and home builders generally subcontract out drywall installation and finishing. If this happens to you or you hire a drywall installer, make sure to specify how you want the drywall fastened. Always specify drywall screws and not nails.

Most drywall installers would prefer to nail drywall up. It's much easier and they can complete the job faster. While that is good for them, it's not beneficial to you. With nails, you stand a better chance of getting nail pops- the nails just get loose and start to dimple the drywall. This is less likely to happen with screws.

For Do It Yourselfers
USG recommends hanging dryall vertically over metal studs.Drywall comes in standard 8 x 4 foot or 12 x 4 foot sheets. US Gypsum (USG), a major manufacturer of drywall, recommends hanging the drywall horizontally if you are installing it over wooden studs.

This will reduce the overall length of the seams that you will have. Can you hang it vertically? Yes, but that is not recommended in USG's Installation manual. [PDF]

One of our readers also pointed out that drywall must be hung vertically when installing it over metal studs. He is absolutely correct and the USG installation manual verified his recommendation.

Kinds of Drywall
On ceilings, you can use 1/2 or 1/4 inch thick drywall. However, if you are going to put drywall on a garage ceiling that has a room above it, use 5/8 inch fire resistant drywall. If you don't do that, you might not meet the building code requirements in your area. The thicker drywall is also a better sound barrier, but of course it is heavier and requires more assistance to handle.

Drywalling Ceilings and Upper Walls
You'll have several options for handing drywall on ceilings and upper walls. If you have several helpers, you can simply have two of them lift the entire drywall sheet while you fasten it with screws.

Dry wall lift holds sheet while installer cranks it toward the ceilingThe second way and the easier way is to rent a drywall lift or drywall hoist. These rent between $18-$30 per day or $63-$105 per week. Some of you may wonder, "do we really need a drywall lift?" the answer is you definitely do. The drywall lift can also be used to hang drywall on the walls as well.

Installing Drywall on 10 feet high or greater ceilings
If your ceilings are 10 feet or over, you can build scaffolding and/or hire more people. A more practical way is to rent and erect scaffolding or find a drywall lift that will reach 10 feet height.

As the following video amply demonstrates, you can even hang drywall on a 10 feet high ceiling without any help. This requires some carpentry skills, the use of your head and mouth. This guy makes it look too easy. See the drywall video and see if you agree.

Resources
For do it yourselfers, the best book that we have seen is entitled Drywall by Myron Ferguson. It is concise and easy to follow and tells you everything you will need to do the job and how to do it. It is very well illustrated.