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Drywall Tips and Shortcuts

Making the Process of Drywalling a Little Less Painful

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Drywall is an art form all to itself and there are people who devote their entire lives to it. Here are a few hints to make the process of installing drywall go a little easier.

Easy Way to Cut Large Sheets of Drywall

Three or four firm strokes of a sharp utility knife is usually enough to cut all the way through a large sheet of drywall. But in the process you also cut the surface underneath--and further dull your blade. An easier way is to first lightly score the drywall without going all the way through the drywall. Next, stand it on end. Walk to the non-scored side of the drywall. Snap the drywall with your knee. The two sides are now hinged and held together by the paper on the back side. With these two ends in a "V" shape, it's now easy enough to slice through the back side paper. The "V" shape even provides you with a perfectly straight line to follow.

How to Get Large Sheets of Drywall Home If You Don't Own a Truck

Provided you're not interested in taking home fifty sheets of drywall in a Ford Echo, this method works pretty good. Score the back side paper of your drywall sheet, go to the non-scored side, snap, then fold. You can fold an 8'x8' feet neatly into a 4'x4' size. When you get home, unfold it and slap it up on the wall, scored side facing toward the outside. My car really can't accomodate a 4'x4' sheet, so I fold it into thirds. You'll want to cut it so that it folds accordian-style, so you need a score on one side and then the second score on the other side. But when you unfold it and put it one the wall, the score disappears. I find that you don't even need to mud it over. I can get 5-6 big sheets in my car this way.

Start Drying Your Drywall Mud--Now

I suppose any drywaller knows this, but it sure took me a long time to figure it out. Drywall mud--compound is the proper term--takes a long time to dry before it is sandable. Speed up the drying process with a small space heater or, better yet, a portable radiator in the room. Or keep the windows open. Or, if it's a small patch, you can speed it up with a hairdryer (the pros have industrial-grade dryers to do this). Don't delay. It will always take longer than you want.

If You Can't Stand Drywall Dust, Try a Dustless Drywall Sanding System...Otherwise, Forget It

Drywall sanding systems are really nothing more than vacuums attached to your sanding pad. The vacuums suck the drywall dust through the wire mesh of your sanding pad and trap it in a bucket of water. They cut down the dust about 95%. The problem is, they make your sanding pad cling to the wall, forcing you to sand that much harder. But if dust is the bane of your existence, a dustless system is for you.

Use Metal-Backed Tape

I don't know how the pros work with paper tape on corners. It takes a delicate touch to fold an eight foot piece of paper lengthwise. I'm sorry, but I just can't do it. An easier (but of course more expensive way) is to buy the tape that has metal backing. The metal backing is pre-scored. It almost folds itself. I think the small extra cost is worth it.

Religiously Wash Your Drywall Tools

Ever tried to chip off dried mud from your tools? It's almost impossible. I'm terrible about cleaning my tools (I'll do anything to avoid cleaning a paintbrush!). But in the case of drywall, you'll save more time by washing off the mud before it dries. You'll be glad you did.
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