Updated: June 8, 2015
Your Guide to Installing and Repairing Drywall:How to Repair Drywall and Install Drywall - Before any building project is complete, the drywall needs to be installed. This can be quite a job to do yourself, and it can also be a big expense to hire a contractor. You have to balance your DIY skills against the possibility of costly mistakes. A professional could very well be your best solution in this case; however, do you need a contractor for a hole that needs to be repaired? Chances are that you don't and that you can fix it yourself - even if you're not the handiest person in the world. A great handyman is made, not born, so don't lose hope. You can learn how to do this relatively simple job yourself to save money, and you may even find you're ready to handle a bigger installation job. In this guide, we'll talk about drywall repairs, installing drywall, and hiring a contractor.
How to Repair Drywall - If you own a home, you are likely going to have to become a drywaller at some point or another. Why? Do you have a door that doesn't have a stopper? Someone slams it open, and boom, the doorknob goes right through the wall. Or slowly, a hole starts to form. Or the areas where you hang pictures or curtain rods begin to weaken. This is only a small sampling of the reasons that you'd need to know a few basics of drywall repair. Why not hire a drywall contractor and get the job done professionally? After all, it's a tiny little spot. How much could it cost? An important thing to keep in mind is that the smaller the job is, the more you are going to pay for it. Thus, fixing a little doorknob hole may cost more than drywalling a whole wall. You will pay a lot more per square foot when it is a small job than if the contractor were doing an entire room or an entire home. So, in this case, it behooves you to be a bit handy. Repairing drywall isn't necessarily difficult, but it does require patience if you want a smooth finished product. Drywall, which is also often called Sheetrock (a brand name that has been accepted into general use for all drywall), is made of gypsum fibers that are pressed together and covered with paper to form sheets. It is very durable and versatile for home use, but again, you may have damage that needs to be repaired. There is no need to hire a contractor if you need to patch drywall; you need patience and a little help from the internet. You can find any number of how-to articles on drywall repair, as well as several YouTube instructional videos. See the video below on a simple drywall patch repair.
The first step is to remove the damaged section of drywall and try to make a square, even hole, which will be easier to fix. You then cut your replacement piece - here is where patience and a bit of meticulousness come in handy. Measure the hole and trace the measurements on the new piece so it will fit as tightly as possible, and make sure your replacement drywall is of the same thickness as your existing drywall (it comes in 1/2-inch or 5/8-inch thicknesses). Around the seams, put a thin layer of joint compound. You can buy premixed plaster at stores like Home Depot. You then put on a piece of drywall tape and squeeze the excess mud out. This bonds the joints and ensures a tight, lasting fit. You do this 3 or 4 times, smoothing with a trowel each time. After it dries (which can be about a day), you sand it lightly. Then you can paint or finish the patch to match the rest of the wall. It can be difficult to get an exact match for non-professionals. If you are not willing to take the chance on a non-matching piece of wall, then you can hire a professional. If you give yourself a lot of time and keep at it, you can do it yourself. It depends on your tolerance and your budget.
What You Need to Repair Drywall and What It Will Cost:If you have a small hole, a great choice is to get a drywall patch kit. These are useful for holes that are under about 5 inches. The SimplyPerfect Drywall Repair Kit (Large) for instance, allows you to patch holes up to 4.5 x 4.5 inches with ease. This is great for those doorknob or picture-hanging injuries your wall suffers. This patch kit gives strong, durable, and professional looking results with no bumps. When applied, you can put on the Patching Compound in less than 5 minutes, so you don't have to be quite as patient. The kit comes with Gorilla Super Glue, SimplyPerfect Patch, SimplyPerfect Patch Block, nylon insertion rod, template, and easy directions. This will cost you about $16. If you have a hole where, say, two large people playing football in the house tackled the wall, you'll need to do the replacement described above. You'll need a drywall sheet, which costs about $12 to $15 for a 4-foot x 8-foot sheet with 1/2-inch thickness. Remember to get:
*Drywall screws. These can be found at any hardware store. They are about $3 a pound, depending on your area.
*Joint compound. Premixed joint compound is great for DIYers. You can buy a 1- or 5-gallon bucket, and what you don't use, you can cover with water, and then save for later. Use an all-purpose compound like Sheetrock Ready-Mixed All-Purpose Joint Compound. It is ready for use and only a bit over $7 for a gallon. You can read more about different types of joint compounds here (http://www.house-painting-info.com/joint-compound.html).
*Tape. A good one to try is Dap 9140 Adhesive Backed Drywall Tape for about $7 per roll.
*Putty knife. Putty knives can be found for $5 to $10. A lower end model should be perfectly fine for your needs. Try the Bon Tool 15-139-B0 joint knife. This particular one is 4 inches and made of flexible high carbon steel. On the flip side is a high impact plastic hammer head handle. You can set drywall nails. This only costs about $7 at retailers like ToolFetch, which sells professional quality supplies.
*Sander. You can use either sand paper or an electric sander. Paper is very cheap at about $2 to $3 for several sheets, and you can do it by hand. A good electronic sander for your purposes may be the Goldblatt G05138 Dust-free Hand Sander. This sander is meant to be attached to a shop-vac so it eliminates up to 90 percent of the dust for you. The Dust-Free Hand Sander is just over $20.
With all the supplies, you are still saving money over hiring a professional, and you have the supplies you need for next time someone bangs that door open too hard..
Installing Drywall:Drywall installation is a bit more labor-intensive and expensive. You do pay less per square foot for big jobs, but this will still cost about $1.10 to $2.15 per square foot. A do-it-yourselfer can pay about $0.25 to $0.65 per square foot. If you were drywalling a 12-foot x 12-foot room with standard 8-foot ceilings, you'd have 530 square feet to be filled. That'd cost $538 at the low end and up to $1139.50 on the high side for that room. Doing it yourself will cost from $132.50 to $344.50. You will pay more for features like very high ceilings or irregular surfaces, and you will also pay more for drywall remodeling jobs than for drywalling during construction. If you are going to hire a contractor, make sure to call around and get several quotes. Here are some things to ask:
*What does your quote include? Will the drywaller remove the old drywalling and clean up all debris?
*Can I check your references? Reputable drywall contractors will have references ready for you. Do call them. You can also go to consumer websites, like Angie's List, to make sure you're not getting a dud.
*How much experience do you have?
*Are you licensed and bonded in your state? Ask to see the license. Don't think this is rude. It's business.
*When do you expect to be done?
*Would you expect payment per square foot or per sheet? (Per sheet can cost about $30.)
*What size drywall sheets are you going to use?
Compare your quotes - and remember that cheaper isn't always better. It's often better to spend a little more and get better quality work. If you are going to attempt the drywall yourself, there are a lot of good resources available to help you. House-Flipping-Helper has a handy drywall calculator so you can estimate your costs (http://www.house-flipping-helper.com/drywall-calculator.html). Another good source with a list of materials you will need and step-by-step directions is DoItYourself (http://www.doityourself.com/stry/installdrywall). There are a host of videos on YouTube and the book Drywall: Professional Techniques for Great Results by Myron R. Ferguson is also very helpful. You can find this for under $14. It is best to be prepared because this is a big undertaking. Whether you go with a professional or decide to do it yourself, installing drywall requires a bit of homework before you can start. Maybe start with a patch kit and see how it goes. Today a kit, tomorrow the whole house!