Creators Syndicate

Dear James: I am converting my garage into a playroom. I watched videos on how to hang drywall, but I want to avoid mistakes. What common problems arise when hanging drywall for the fist time — Brad S.

Dear Brad: Watching a video of a professional is a good first step to get the project basics. It is impossible for any video or book to list all the possible mistakes that can occur when hanging drywall. It is a pretty straightforward procedure, but there are always unexpected details that can create serious problems.

The most common mistake is installing the drywall too soon before you have taken care of all the insulation, ventilation, wiring, etc. There is strong natural temptation to hang the drywall because then the project appears to be near completion. Make a checklist of all the things that need to be completed before hanging the drywall.

Placing a drywall seam at the edge of a door corner is asking for trouble. It makes installation easier to locate the seam there, but the vibration from opening and closing the door over time will cause the drywall joint to move. Eventually the drywall tape will pop loose.

Make sure to have all your required local inspections done before hanging the drywall and finishing the joints. Often, the nailing pattern for the drywall needs to be inspected. If you finish the joints with tape and drywall compound (mud), the inspectors cannot see how many nails you used.

Contaminating the mud with dried chips from the trowel is a common error. If you do not keep the trowel clean, the dry specks get into the tub of compound. When this happens, it is virtually impossible to spread the compound smoothly over the tape and the tape may have lumps under it.

Driving the nails too deep into the drywall will break the paper on the surface of the drywall. Just drive the nail heads in slightly below the surface. Always use special drywall nails, not just any old nails you happen to find in your garage.

Trying to minimize waste and using small scrap pieces whenever possible is a commendable goal, but not with drywall. If you try to use a lot of smaller pieces, you will have many more joints to finish. Also, the edges of drywall sheets are beveled to provide room for the tape and mud at joints. Some edges of small scrap pieces will not have this bevel.

Butt the drywall sheets together over a stud or a rafter for support. Drywall may feel rigid, but if the joining edges are not well supported, the joint with flex and the tape will eventually pop off. You can add small pieces of wood (blocking) between the studs for extra support. 

Another common error is trying to hang the ceiling drywall after the walls are already completed. This makes it much more difficult to get a good-looking job than when doing the ceiling first followed by the walls.

Use the drywall compound liberally and don’t rush the job. In order to save time and materials, often insufficient compound is worked into the tape. This creates a weak joint because the tape will not be fixed tightly to the drywall. Insufficient sanding of each coat of compound will result in a bulge at the seams.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit