Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Balletic Art of Drywall Taping

The rented drywall lift in action

Hanging sheets of drywall is not difficult, especially with the aid of a few tools easily rented or acquired from your local hardware store: a drywall lift; an electric drywall screwdriver with an integral bit that dimples the drywall just enough to ensure that the screw head is below the surface of the drywall, but not to rip the paper surface; a good long straight edge for cutting--a 4' drywall square works best; a foot jack for wedging the drywall up off the floor enough to firmly abut the piece above; a knife with lots of replacement blades, a rasp for filing ragged edges, and a level.  

DIY drywall toolkit part 1: drywall screwdriver, foot jack, t-square, knife and replacement blades, ear protection, rasp
Oh, and a rotozip type router is also invaluable for cutting around outlet boxes (always cut-counter clockwise or the cut can get away from you), as is a shop-vac style vaccuum that won't be harmed by the fine gypsum dust. And, now that I think about it, we also used two telescoping poles to help support the drywall at ceiling level, So, yes, it requires lots of tools, but hanging your own drywall is a feasible task for a homeowner. 

DIY drywall toolkit part 2: Rotozip, telescoping support poles, level
For our kitchen renovation, we decided to hang the drywall ourselves and then hire a professional to tape the seams.   But here's something we've learned: if you plan to hang your own drywall, be sure to do a good job--no small scraps of drywall, no ragged or uneven seams, no exposed screw heads, no broken paper--or you may have difficulty finding a professional taper to complete your job. All the tapers we've seen in action work with such balletic efficiently (some even work on stilts to avoid having to break their stride to move a ladder around the room!), that they resent any glaring errors of the prior boarding crew that might slow them down. They seem to have an instinctive idea of how long a room should take and how much trouble it should be. Ask for more, and they'll often turn your job down. Believe us, a good taper is a necessity. We've learned that taping is a fluid artform, not a job for plodding amateurs. Like beautiful calligraphy or sumi-e painting, excellent taping requires fluid motion and a deft hand. We've been amazed at how little sanding an expert taper will need to do after the fact. We tried taping a room--once. It was enough to make us recognize that book-learning can only go so far. Some things are better left to skilled professionals. 

With angles like these (and this isn't the half of it), this kitchen needed a professional taper
N, who is the perfectionist around here, is always pleased when the drywalling contractors comment on his excellent job hanging the drywall.

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