Drywall 101: Success Through Slave Labor

We’re still in the midst of the Ultimate Drywall Adventure here at the Memorial House, which is extra fun in a room with 8’6″ walls (oh hey look, they do make 96″ studs for a reason), no level surfaces, and very few right angles.

I started this series of posts by thinking I could rent a drywall jack and get every piece of wallboard up in 24 hours. By myself. Without ending up in the hospital. So sue me for being a little ambitious.

My second approach was to recruit unsuspecting passerbys. Well hello there victims…


Actually, the real story goes like this: My dad came over to the Station on Saturday and thought MysteryMan and I were doing too much beer drinking, and not enough drywall hanging, and that maybe we needed someone to hang out with us Sunday and tell us everything we were doing wrong.

I’m not sure where he got that impression about the beer…


Ah… moving on.

He showed up like a whirlwind on Sunday morning with my step-mother in tow, and luckily MysteryMan and I had the forethought to prepare a list of things we didn’t want to couldn’t do, for him to help us with, thus distracting him from any other aspects of the construction he might have given us advice on.

Next thing you know it was like we were running a sweatshop in the garage:


That looks a little bit easier than when I was doing it by myself.


Even the self proclaimed DIY-novice got a spin with the hole cutter:


The next thing I know she was asking to borrow the roto-zip to remove some grout and replace a broken tile in her bathroom. And I refrained from pumping my fist in the air and whooping like a maniac, but is there anything more exciting than another one of us “helpless females” getting bit by the “I can do it!” bug? Next thing you know she’ll be stealing my dad’s power tools and he can stop blaming me for it every time he’s missing a chisel. This could be a win-win for me.

Prepping for Tile

I had a change of heart last week, because I’m the kind of person that debates about the wall coverings of a garage bathroom while doing my last minute Christmas shopping. In any case, I decided to swap out the drywall behind the imaginary toilet for some fiber-cement board so I could tile half-way up the wall.

We chose to use 1/2″ thick fiber-cement, even though thinner board would probably work. I’m thinking the tile will be about 4’4″ high, but I didn’t want to lock myself into that yet, so the backer board is flush with the drywall this way, and I can go up to 6′ if I want to.


One thing I will say about Ricky. His utility cut-outs were dead-on almost every time.


One of the things we asked of our newest recruit was help installing the bathroom door. Every time MysteryMan and I install a door together we usually end up trying poke eachothers eyeballs out with shims, so when I said “can you help us with this” I actually meant “can you spare us a trip to the emergency room to deal with eyeball splinters.” And it ended up being a rather more peaceful, if crowded, experience than we’re used to.


And as you can see, Ricky does everything with a certain amount of intensity. It’s almost like he’s trying to intimidate the screw into the stud. I can’t tell if there’s a family resemblance in the way we do that.

Intense drilling competitions aside, we made considerable progress on the South and West walls, thanks to the help.


And we finished off the bathroom with the exception of a few small pieces, which means there will be plenty of “taping joints” and “tiling wall” excitement in my future. Who could ask for more?

Ricky’s Top 5 Drywall Tips for the Uninitiated

I just couldn’t keep this treasure-trove of knowledge to myself:

1.) Start at the top. Leave 1/2″ space at the bottom.Using some scrap pieces of 1/2″ wallboard as spacers at the bottom makes this easier.

2.) Buy a keyhole saw for cutting utility holes. (He mentioned this to us so many times in the last two weeks that we finally spent the $12 out of self-preservation. It worked well though. )

3.) Use a rasp to file down the edges.

4.) Sometimes wallboard can be intimidated if you shout the F-word at it.

5.) When all else fails and your wallboard doesn’t fit, use a hammer. Do not give up. Hammer the shit out of the piece until it fits, and then rub your hand of the mangled corner and say with confidence “you can cover that with tape.”

Thanks Ricky, I don’t know what I would do without you, but I suspect whatever it is, I’d be doing it with much cheaper tools.

4 Responses

  1. Ricky’s tips are dead-on. My big tip for taping, mudding and sanding is using a damp sponge to sand instead of a drywall sander — no dust for the win!

  2. Oh god, drywalling is the worst. I’d rather scrape rooms worth of wallpaper than put up and finish drywall. Seriously. Maybe it’s my horrible allergies? I just can’t stand it. But I do love your post about it!

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