How Much Does Drywall Cost?
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Properly installing drywall requires a steady hand and a sharp eye for detail, but it’s also one of the least-expensive projects in home building and remodeling. Drywall offers a lightweight, cost-efficient material for interior walls and ceilings, which are undoubtedly some of the most important structural and decorative elements in your home. Although the framing provides the structure and support, drywall is the crucial final addition that gives you smooth, even walls that form the ideal canvas for the rest of your home decorating ideas. Read on to learn more about the process of installing drywall and the average costs of the materials that go into this project.
If you need help with your drywall project, let ImproveNet connect you with local drywall professionals for free.
Table of Contents
- Drywall Cost
- Drywall Panel Sizes
- Drywall Finish Levels
- How to Hang Drywall
- DIY or Hire a Pro?
- Find A Pro
Homeowners spend an average of $1,500 to buy drywall, with prices that average of $0.30 - $0.35 cents per square foot for the drywall and other materials needed for this project. The amount you can expect to pay to drywall a room or a home depends on a variety of factors. Before you start pricing materials, take advantage of our drywall calculator and estimator to determine the number of sheets you need for your project.
To calculate your estimated drywall cost, take the number of sheets you need and multiply it by the cost of the drywall sheets, which usually price out at around $6 each. Other costs to consider include materials such as:
- Drywall Screws: These specialty screws are usually sold by the pound, which secures approximately 500 square feet of drywall. On average, these cost $6 per pound.
- Tape: Covers the joints between drywall sheets and costs approximately $4.50 for a 150-foot roll.
- Joint Compound: Smooths over any blemishes from drywall tape, fasteners and joints. It costs an average of $15 for a 5-gallon container of premixed compound. Most professionals calculate how much joint compound they need by taking the square footage of the room and dividing it by 7.25.
Drywall Panel Sizes
When you're estimating drywall costs, you need to calculate your square footage, and then consider the size of the drywall panels you want to use. Drywall most commonly comes in 4’ by 8' sheets, with thicknesses ranging from ¼-inch to ⅝-inch. Thin, ¼-inch-thick drywall sheets are ideal for damaged areas during repairs, but they aren't strong enough to use alone.
Standard sheets are ½-inch thick and weigh 57.6 pounds. Thicker, ⅝-inch drywall usually is made of fire-resistant materials. It's ideal for firewalls or anywhere you want added strength, including ceilings, although it’s around 20 pounds heavier than ½-inch-thick drywall.
Most people use 4' by 8', ½-inch thick, standard-sized drywall sheets for small and medium drywall projects. Some of the common sheet sizes and average prices to give you an idea of how much drywall costs include:
- 4' by 8': $6 per sheet
- 4' by 12': $10 per sheet
- 4' by 14': $13 per sheet
- 4' by 16': $15 per sheet
Drywall Finish Levels
When you install drywall, you also finish it to one of six finish levels. The level you choose depends on the wall's location and the preferred finished look. The levels include:
- Level 0: With all the fasteners and joints left exposed, this is the minimum level of installation. The drywall is attached to the wall frame, but there's no tape or joint compound.
- Level 1: Utility rooms, storage spaces and areas where you don't need a finished wall for aesthetics often sport this basic finish. The drywall is hung and fastened to the wall frame with tape over the seams and joint compound covering all fasteners and taped areas.
- Level 2: This is a common finish for garages and workrooms, where the appearance of the walls isn't a consideration, or in preparation for tiling a wall. The drywall panels are taped and covered in joint compound and then followed by a full coat of compound.
- Level 3: Adding a second coat of compound gives the wall a smooth, ridge-free finish. This is commonly used when the wall will receive a textured finish.
- Level 4: Three coats of compound is the magic number if you're using flat paints or lightly textured finishes.
- Level 5: In addition to the three coats of compound, the drywall panels get an extra skim coat of compound. This level is best for areas with very bright lighting or walls that receive semi-gloss or gloss paint.
How to Hang Drywall
Start by installing the ceiling drywall. Have someone nearby to help you hoist and hold the panels in place with the edges perpendicular to the joists and one end snug against the wall. Insert five evenly spaced screws along the width of the panel into the joist closest to the center of the panel, keeping all screws at least ½-inch from the edge of the panel. Repeat the five-screw installation along each joist, adding additional panels as necessary to create a row that reaches the opposite wall. Continue working in rows to complete the ceiling installation before beginning the walls. Work your way around the room, placing and securing the drywall panels until the room is complete. Then you can add tape and joint compound to finish the process.
Use Fastening Screws
Fastening screws offer a secure hold that doesn’t pop out as easily, making them particularly ideal for use when you drywall a ceiling. Use 1¼-inch screws and a screw gun that's adjusted so you drive the screw into the drywall just far enough to leave a light recess for the joint compound to cover. Insert screws 12 inches apart in the areas where edges of the drywall panels meet at wall frames.
Fasten with Drywall Nails
Drywall nails offer a good, secure hold for hanging drywall on walls, and they’re easier to install because you only need a hammer, which makes the process a bit faster. Choose ring shank nails that are at least 1¼-inch long. Depending on the building codes in your area, you may need to install drywall nails every 6 to 12 inches to hang drywall.
Fasten with Glue
Many pros use a bead of heavy-duty adhesive along the frame of the wall to prevent nails from popping and add a more secure hold. Apply the glue to the wall or ceiling frame, press the drywall panel in place and fasten with nails or screws as desired.
DIY or Hire A Pro?
Although drywall can be a DIY project, consider where you're hanging the drywall before you decide to do it yourself. If you're hanging drywall in the garage or in a utility room that doesn't need to look perfect, you could try your hand at hanging drywall. If you're building a home, repairing a ceiling or performing major renovations, consult a professional. In addition to finishing the job quickly, pros have the skills necessary to give the drywall a seamless, smooth finish.
Find A Pro
Hanging drywall yourself can end up being much more expensive and time consuming than hiring a pro. Why go at it alone? Head to our free drywall lead generator to connect with local professionals with the skills and experience to help you get the job done.
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Last updated on Feb 8, 2017