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Drywall Installation Tips From USG Corporation

(HIT) - Drywall is such a fundamental home remodeling and building material that it’s often taken for granted. Drywall installation looks deceptively simple, but there are "tricks" to the trade that can make a big difference for any homeowner contemplating a remodeling project that involves drywall installation. Fortunately, drywall is versatile, inexpensive and—with some basic know-how and a little practice—a successful drywall installation can be accomplished by any do-it-yourselfers in virtually any room.

The following drywall installation tips can help:

Cutting Drywall Panels Down To Size

When installing drywall, it’s best to use full sheets wherever possible to minimize the number of seams in your project. Plan the position of your first drywall panel carefully to take full advantage of each sheet. Always install ceiling panels first, if that’s part of your project, then begin working on the walls. If necessary, install a filler strip at the bottom of the wall, with the cut edge down, where it will usually be hidden by the baseboard.

To score and snap drywall, mark cutting lines on the light-colored face paper with a pencil and straight edge. Using a utility knife, score down the line, through the paper and lightly into the gypsum core. Break the panel core into separate pieces with a quick, firm movement of your hands, which should grasp the drywall edges on both sides of the score line. Then run the knife through the back paper and snap it back-to-face to complete the job. For the cleanest cut edges, lightly smooth them with sandpaper wrapped around a block of wood. Keep the edge as square as possible. The new panels require minimal edge sanding.

Once a drywall panel is cut and in position, drive screws (the preferred fastener) in straight, not at an angle. Do not countersink the fasteners; the screw head should sit in a shallow dimple without breaking the paper. When applying drywall horizontally, fasten the top row of panels first.

Finishing Drywall Seams

Different types of weather produce different reactions within drywall joint compounds. Hot, dry weather hastens drying, while wet weather slows drying and may trap the unwary who rely on appearances to judge the dryness of the joint compound. Any of these factors can result in costly and serious problems unless practical, preventive measures are taken.

Finishing Drywall Seams In Hot Weather

Summer and remodeling seem to go hand in hand. Kids and other family members can spend more time outside and less time getting in the way of your remodeling projects. If you’re tackling a complete remodeling project or putting on an addition, you’ll want to take certain precautions when using drywall in wall construction. That’s because summer weather—whether it’s hot and dry or wet and humid—affects the performance and working qualities of the joint compounds that are used to conceal the joints between gypsum panels.

When the weather is hot and dry, close doors and windows to eliminate drafts that will further shorten the drying time for joint compounds. Rapid air movement against wet joints—especially if a thin-consistency mix is applied—can cause check cracking and edge cracking.

Raise the humidity around your remodeling job area by generously sprinkling subfloors with water or placing open cans of water around the job. Use setting-type joint compounds, such as SHEETROCK Brand Lightweight Setting-Type Joint Compound (EASY SAND™), as these products harden quickly and help minimize the effects of very fast drying conditions.

Work shorter joint lengths in order to finish each section before the compound becomes unworkably dry, and refrain from adding excess water to the compound. While extra water extends working time, it also increases shrinkage.

When weather conditions are wet and humid, allow each coat of drywall joint compound to dry thoroughly before applying subsequent coats. Use setting-type or lightweight setting-type joint compounds, as their rates of hardening are virtually unaffected by high or fluctuating humidity. Don’t rely on a visual inspection to check joint dryness. And don’t store tape and powder compounds in damp areas. Working qualities of both can be affected by dampness.

Tips For Better Drywall Installation In Any Season

A good first step in any drywall project is to use high-quality drywall products. USG’s SHEETROCK® Brand Gypsum Panels, for instance, snap more cleanly than other boards and therefore require less rasping and less joint compound. Also, stick with brand-name joint treatment products. SHEETROCK® Brand Ready-Mixed and Setting-Type Joint Compounds offer the most reliable consistency and performance.

If you’re remodeling a previously finished living space, take appropriate measures to minimize the mess that can result from cutting and sanding drywall joint compound. Cut drywall and other building materials outside, or in a garage, if possible, and mix joint compounds there as well. Choose a dust control joint compound like USG’s SHEETROCK® Brand Dust Control Joint Compound, which is formulated to bind up fine residue during sanding, causing it to fall straight to the floor instead of creating a massive dust cloud that travels throughout your home.

No matter what the weather conditions, be sure to follow these basic installation practices:

  • DO keep tools and mixing containers clean at all times. Always use clean water for mixing.
  • DO add powder compounds to water when mixing—not water to powder. And sift compounds while pouring.
  • DO use 150 grit or finer sandpaper (220 grit abrasive mesh cloth) when sanding topping or lightweight all-purpose joint compounds.
  • DO remove all sanding dust from surfaces prior to decorating.
  • DON’T roughen the surface paper of drywall panels when sanding. This raises the nap of the paper and can cause joint and fastener areas to remain visible after final decoration.
  • DON’T begin painting before the joints are thoroughly dry. Painting over wet joints is a major cause of joint discoloration.
  • DON’T apply excess knife pressure when spotting nail heads. This practice scoops compound out of the dimpled area surrounding the fastener.

New Decorating Options Give Walls Design Appeal

It used to be that homeowners and interior designers would do everything possible to make a home’s interior walls go virtually unnoticed. Whether made from gypsum board or plaster, the blander a wall’s appearance, the better. After all, walls weren’t supposed to attract attention ... their role was purely functional.

But now, thanks to a host of new and innovative decorating materials and treatments, walls are taking on personalities of their own. Look through any current home design or decorating publication and it’s clear that walls have become a focus for drama and visual appeal.

The best word to describe current wall decorating trends is eclectic; people are adapting diverse design influences to fit their individual ideals. Some colors and styles are centering on traditional and even nostalgic themes. Other themes are focused on capturing an aura of comfort and security – both physically and for the heart.

Earth shades including tones of sienna, mustard, moss and gray, as well as metallic tones of copper, bronze, steel and silver, are the current colors of choice for interior walls. Americana wallpaper motifs such as colonial motifs, updated Southwestern styles, antique flags, and gingham checks and stripes are also enjoying a major resurgence in popularity.

There is also a growing use of unconventional—but natural—wall finishing materials. Some of the more popular choices include metals such as steel and copper; woods such as natural maple or zebra wood; natural fibers such as seagrass, sisal and jute; glass that is sandblasted, textured or stained; and fabrics like natural silks, sheers or billiard cloth. Tile, stone, porcelain, brick and even poured concrete are also being used.

The hottest of these new, natural wall treatments are decorative wall finishes made from crushed marble, limestone or gypsum plaster. When infused with pigments and skillfully applied, these tinted mineral-based finishes can provide a warm, lustrous alternative to wallpaper and paneling. And they can be made to look like anything from polished stone to soft suede.

Skilled craftsmen apply the marble and limestone-based finishes, known as "Venetian" in the decorating trades. Each applicator has his or her particular method for applying and finishing the product, and each creates a wall that is distinct from all others. But this artistry comes with a price. The process is labor-intensive and materials are expensive. It is not unusual for a Venetian-type finish to cost from $12 to $18 or more per square foot.

A lower-cost alternative to the Venetian look was introduced recently by USG Corporation. The USG Decorative Interior Finish System is a gypsum plaster-based finish that can be applied in virtually any pastel or earthtone shade, and can be troweled to capture a wide range of upscale semi-smooth and textured looks.

The system captures the look and feel of extreme high-end Venetian and Tuscany style finishes (which feature softer lines and more subdued colors), but is easier for professional applicators to apply. It creates surfaces with glowing color and subtle textures for a fraction of the cost of a typical Tuscany finish.

Although not recommended for do-it-yourself application, the USG Decorative Interior Finish System requires minimal surface preparation. It can be applied directly to new or existing drywall. One or two 1/8-inch-thick coats of plaster are all that’s needed. And because it is a plaster-based finish, it is harder, more impact resistant and more durable than drywall. Even if the finish is chipped or scratched, it’s difficult to notice since the surface is not designed to be perfectly smooth and the color goes all the way through. In the event of more significant damage, the finish can be easily repaired.

About USG Corporation

Over the years, USG Corporation has developed stronger, easier-to-install drywall panels that deliver better-looking finished results in less time. These panels can be scored with a knife and snapped into pieces more easily during the cutting process, producing edges that need less sanding and creating a neater look around doors, windows and electrical outlets. The edges also form tighter seams that require the use of less joint compound, creating a smoother surface.

In addition, the board is stronger and more rigid, making it easier to carry and install. Homeowners and contractors alike will find that the panels go up quicker with less labor and fewer wasted pieces. The board’s rigid core means panels stay flatter and store easily, so weekend construction warriors can leave them for extended periods of time without worrying about warping.

This technology is incorporated in all of USG’s standard drywall sizes and types. For most remodeling and home improvement jobs, do-it-yourselfers can use either 4- by 8-foot or 4- by 12-foot panels (the smaller panels are lighter and easier to handle). Standard drywall thicknesses are either 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch. Another option is 1/4-inch-thick gypsum panels, which are designed to bend more easily over curved walls.

For more drywall installation and finishing tips or information about the USG Decorative Interior Finish System, visit USG online at

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center

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