Installing Drywall in a Cold House

Many homeowners and builders are faced with the challenge of installing drywall in very cold houses during the winter. Installing drywall in cold houses caused excessive cracking and in some cases discoloration. That's because the tape and adhesives don't perform very well in cold environments. Heating your home to at least 50 degrees F prior to during and after installing drywall can alleviate most problems. However, if you use your brand new furnace to heat your space, that may void your warranty.

We know what to do, but there doesn't seem to be a good middle ground. So we are going to present recommendations from the Drywall community and the HVAC community including furnace manufacturers.

Drywallers position

We found several reports on Hamilton Drywall Products website which we're going so summarize below:

  1. Low temperatures and moisture over the past three to four winters has caused severe cosmetic cracking in drywall across the U.S.
  2. A high percentage of the cracking can be avoided by improving job conditions, proper scheduling, and proper application of the gypsum wallboard.
  3. Your house or structure be heated to a minimum temperature of 50° F for a period of 48 hours prior to the application of gypsum wallboard
  4. Increase the temperature to 60° F during application of finishing products,
  5. Maintain that 60° F through completion (final decoration).

We also found that the DIY Forum had the same concerns about drywalling an unheated space.

How to heat your home

  1. Without a doubt the preferred method of heating is to utilize the forced air units installed in the home. These systems not only provide heat, but also expel moisture.
  2. The use of diesel or kerosene heat can produce discoloration.
  3. Propane fueled space heaters actually produce 7.8 pounds of water per gallon of propane burned. This adds moisture to the site making adequate ventilation difficult but very necessary. 
  4. All so-called “space heaters” regardless of fuel do not provide heat evenly throughout the job.
  5. It is extremely important that minimum temperatures be maintained continuously and ventilated adequately to remove moisture.

How to prevent cracking?

In some areas, as little as three days is scheduled for drywall finishing and texture application. That is relatively quick. Hamilton Drywall Products recommends at least seven days for these procedures. The Drywall Finishing Council recommends a minium temperature be maintained at 50° F at the job site.

HVAC Community

The HVAC community forums that we visited are very adamant about not using the furnace to heat a construction site. Drywall dust from sanding will get into the furnace and the duct work and you will have trouble for years to come. One option is to use electric heaters which will not produce water as a propane heater would.

What did you do?

  • What you used to heat the space
  • If you used the furnace, did it void the warranty
  • What steps did you take afterwards to clean up the furnace.