Drywall Layout: A Visual Guide

Drywall
Steven Puetzer / Getty Images
  • 01 of 06

    Drywall Layout Visual Guide

    How to Drywall: Layout
    How to Drywall: Layout. Public Domain: Peter Griffin

    In this single picture of a room with newly installed drywall, you will see ​the basic layout of the sheets, fasteners, electrical box cutouts, joint compound, and where to sand.  Through these steps, I break down the elements of this picture to show you the anatomy of a typical drywall project.

    Horizontal or Vertical?

    When laying out drywall, you need to decide which direction to lay out the rectangular-shaped sheets:

    • Vertical - that is, four feet across and eight feet tall, so that it completely...MORE reaches from floor to ceiling; or
    • Horizontal - that is, eight feet across and four feet tall.

    Vertical placement is the classic way of laying out drywall. But horizontal placement has its advantages, too. Some professional drywall installers deem horizontal placement to be a stronger form of installation.

    In our pictured drywall example, note that not only is placement horizontal, but 10' x 4' sheets are used.

    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Drywall Layout: Position of Fasteners

    How to Drywall: Hanging and Screwing
    How to Drywall: Hanging and Screwing. Public Domain/Courtesy Peter Griffin

    With a cordless drill and coarse thread 1 5/8" drywall screws, you will drive a screw every eight inches along the entire perimeter of the drywall sheets.

    You should also drive screws in the center of the sheets where they rest on studs. Studs typically run every 16" on-center. Note that in this example, the installer has run only a handful of screws into the studs, and has clustered them mainly in the center of each stud.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Drywall Layout: Where To Place Tape

    How to Drywall: Drywall Taping
    How to Drywall: Drywall Taping. Public Domain: Peter Griffin

    Tape all seams. Use fiberglass mesh tape or paper tape to tape flat seams. Fiberglass mesh is more expensive, but stronger. Paper tape is cheaper, but not as strong.

    Inside and outside corners can be taped with regular paper tape. However, most drywall installers use ​metal bead for inside and outside corners, or even metal-backed paper tape for inside corners.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Drywall Layout: Placement of Electrical Box Cutouts

    How to Drywall: Box Cutouts
    How to Drywall: Box Cutouts. Public Domain: Peter Griffin

    There are two ways to mark and cut out electrical boxes (light switch boxes, electrical receptacles, etc.).

    One way is to measure and cut the holes for the boxes ahead of time. This can be a frustrating process, though, as the hole is often misaligned.

    A better way is to use a new item called Blindmark. Blindmark is a super-strong magnet that fits inside the box. After placement of the drywall, another part of the Blindmark device locates the hidden part. After you mark the spot with a pencil, it...MORE is easy to cut out the hole with a hand saw, jigsaw, or Dremel tool.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Drywall Layout: Joint Sanding

    How to Drywall: Mudding/Joint Compound
    How to Drywall: Mudding/Joint Compound. Public Domain: Peter Griffin

    Apply joint compound to all taped areas and any depressions, scratches, dents, and screw holes.

    First, smooth on the joint compound (also known as "mud") to the joints with a medium-sized taping knife. Then, feather out the mud with a large knife. After this first coat has dried and hardened, apply a second coat.

    Smooth the joint compound over all drywall screw divots (holes), too.

    Be judicious about applying joint compound: the more you apply, the more you have to sand down later.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Drywall Layout: Places to Sand

    How to Drywall: Sanding
    How to Drywall: Sanding. Public Domain: Peter Griffin

    With a hand-held and pole-mounted drywall sanding tool, sand down all areas indicated in the picture.

    Coarser grit sandpaper should be used in the first phase to bring down the rough areas. Avoid the temptation to use very coarse grit sandpaper; this will abrade the drywall paper surface.

    Follow up with a lighter grit sandpaper in the second sanding.

    Small areas of joint compound can be "sanded" with a wet sponge, called the "wet-sanding technique." This is a great way to help...MORE reduce drywall dust. Another way to reduce dust is to use a barrier system such as ZipWall.