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Drywall Installation Prices
Drywall, also known as wallboard, plasterboard, or sheetrock, is widely used in the construction of interior residential walls and ceilings. Made from sheets of pressed gypsum (gypsum is a type of mineral), drywall took the place of plaster as a wall-building material in the mid-twentieth century.
Hiring a Pro vs. DIY
Drywall is mass-produced and therefore cheap. It's also easy to install and simple to repair, even as a DIY project. Professional drywall installation costs more, but a pair of pros can finish an entire room in an hour or less. If you've never worked with drywall, all you need to tackle the job are a few hand tools and some patience (getting it right takes practice). A how-to guide also wouldn't hurt for the first-time drywaller. The following resources should provide all the information you need to hang "rock" like a pro:
Drywall was a big step up from plaster, as it provided a much faster way to cover ceilings and walls. But the material does have one weakness: it's easily damaged. Wall-hangings, doorknobs, and overzealous children are common causes of broken drywall, although there are endless ways that damage can occur. Cracks and nail holes can be fixed with joint compound alone, while more extensive damage requires buying a sheet or two of drywall and some tape. As with installation, hiring a pro is faster but costlier. If you're intent on performing the repair yourself, these sites are a good starting point:
- Popular Mechanics (a comprehensive guide that touches on multiple types of damage)
- For Dummies (see how to repair large drywall cracks)
- This Old House (for repairing drywall holes)
Whether you plan on installing or repairing drywall yourself or hiring a pro, keep the following points in mind:
- Standard-sized drywall sheets are 8 feet x 4 feet. Sheets as long as 16 feet are available, but do-it-yourselfers are advised to work with smaller sheets.
- The most common drywall thicknesses are 3/8 inch and ½ inch, but you can buy thicker (including 5/8") and thinner (as thin as ¼") sheets.
- There are specific types of drywall that better-resist fire (5/8" sheetrock is considered fire-rated), moisture, abuse, and sound. Certain types of drywall may be required for certain applications (such as fire rated drywall in the furnace room). Check your local building codes.
- Installing drywall is actually a two-part operation involving two different skill sets: hanging and taping (preparing the walls for painting). A good drywall-hanger isn't necessarily a good taper and in fact, the person taping the sheetrock plays a huge role in how the finished walls look. Because a bad taping job won't show up for months, you should contact former clients of a drywall installer and see how the work is holding up (i.e. whether there are cracks and seams forming in the drywall).
- Hiring a pro for a large drywall job is often worth the extra money, as they can finish the job quickly for a relatively low cost. Smaller jobs, however, including patches, can be much more expensive, so you may be better off tackling them yourself.
- Many skilled drywallers aren't licensed. While you may need a licensed drywall contractor for certain jobs in certain states (for example, if the job involves work on a load bearing wall), an unlicensed drywaller can be used for standard sheet installation. Rather than focusing on accreditation, ask to see samples of previous work and get references from satisfied customers.
Drywall Average Costs
- For drywall hanging alone (no taping) on a large job (50+ sheets), expect to pay $.30 to $.60 per square foot. With taping, professional drywall installation costs closer to $1.00 per square foot and as much as $1.50 per square foot. These prices don't include the cost of drywall (see below). For a 12' x 15' room, you might pay $1,000 to $1,200 (materials and labor).
- These prices assume extensive drywall installation (throughout the home or in multiple rooms). Smaller jobs, however (less than 40-50 sheets), aren't cost effective by the square foot and could run as much as $60 to $80 per hour. The same goes for drywall repairs (a simple repair shouldn't take more than an hour or two to complete).
- If going the DIY-route, sheetrock itself costs $7 to $14 per 8' x 4' sheet (depending on the type). The tools required (screws, tape, mud, drywall knives) might run $50 for a small job and $200 to $300 for a larger job (screws are the biggest expense; you'll go through them quickly).