Over the years, I have learned many small things that can make drywall easier.
Some were passed on to me, others, I figured out on my own. I doubt any of these tips were "created" by me, but they may be new and/or helpful to you.
I have been called in many time by wives to repair and/or finish the drywall projects started by their husbands. I understand the idea of saving money by doing some of the work yourself, but I think you should first consider your own ability to achieve a quality drywall finish in your home based on your level of drywall knowledge. The quality of the finished drywall directly corresponds to the quality of the framing and the drywall hanging. Think to yourself, do you understand what all of this means? You should also take a moment to consider how much time the work will take you, how much dust from extra sanding you will have to deal with and if the extended amount of time that it takes to do the job yourself may overshadow any savings you had hoped to gain. Not to mention the physical toll you will bear, insurance questions and a lack of warranty you will have. So, after considering all of these things, I hope you can come to conclusion that in general, hiring a professional will save you money, time, and headache in the long run. And will keep your wife happier.
When I hang the top row of drywall on a regular wall, I will prenail (insert a row of nails before hanging) across the top of the sheet so that I can attach the sheet with one hand while holding the sheet in place with the other. Sometimes moving the sheet into the room or into place however, one or more of the nails may get knocked out or need replaced. I can eliminate the need to get a bench/bucket or ladder to reach said nails by using the bottom of my hammer handle to hold a nail and put the new nail into place.
This is accomplished with a wood handled hammer, a screw/nail, and another hammer or hard surface (such as a concrete floor). Drive the side of the screw/nail head sideways into the bottom of the hammer until the shaft of screw/nail is flush with the end of the handle, creating the indention that will hold your nail. Then, holding the hammer inverted by the head or handle near the head, set the nail on top in the indentation you just made with the handle now facing up. Lightly stick the end of the nail in the drywall, releasing it from the handle with a tapping motion. Now you can set the nail.
Ideally, you want the indentation snug enough to "hold" the nail and not just a place for the nail to rest upon, but you will also want it loose enough so that it will "let go" and stay in the drywall easily.
Many times, I've needed to make a chalk line over a short distance, say 1-5 ft, and did not have someone with me to help hold the other end of the line. What I've discovered to be able to do it yourself is to wrap the end of the line around your pinkie finger on your primary hand. If it is your right hand, wrap it counter-clockwise. Vice versa for if it is your left hand. This allows you to hold down the end with your pinkie finger, stretch it and hold it down with your other hand, and snap the line with the thumb & forefinger of your primary hand.
Mesh tape is a specialty product that is over-used by the D.Y.I. community, and very often, used incorrectly. Mesh tape is not as strong as paper tape, as it will stretch under load, even after the joint is completely finished. I especially do not recommend using it in angles, as it does not hold a good shape and is easily cut while applying mud over it.
Another major aspect of fiberglass mesh tape is that is needs to be first-coated with Durabond Setting-Type or Easy Sand Lightweight Setting Type compound (mud), which are products I would not recommend for non-professionals. While these products have several advantages including less shrinkage, quicker set time, harder finish and stronger bond, these same features can cause large problems for the untrained.
These products do not shrink as much if at all, but have on some occasions been known to swell. And regardless of the "Easy Sand" title, this really only means easier to sand than Durabond, which does not sand at all, not that it is "easy" to sand. I usually try to never have to sand these products.
Finally, generally speaking, I have not met any D.Y.I. folks who actually need a quicker set time, although this can help the professional do one day patch jobs. Quicker mud will most likely just set-up in your pan, making it useless. The harder finish also makes for difficult sanding, or leaves the user to not sand at all, something amateurs seem to do a lot of. The stronger bond in the mud is what makes it the best for correct application of mesh tape, adding strength to a less weaker product, and is why untrained people should not be using mesh tape.
Although it may be tempting, don’t skip the primer. For a quality drywall finish, primer is very important. The surface characteristics of sanded drywall mud and raw drywall paper have a few differences, making them difficult to paint. They do not absorb moisture at the same rate (porosity), and don't have the same textures, both of which can cause "flashing", "banding" or "photographing", which in layman's terms means you can see the drywall joints and fasteners through the paint under some lighting conditions, which if very unacceptable and undesirable. Using a primer designed for new drywall will remedy these issues.
Until recently, there was only one product available and is still the best out there today. It is U.S.G. brand Sheetrock First Coat Primer (sold at Menards and elsewhere), and is the industry standard. It is inexpensive, easy to use and dries very quickly, and I highly recommend it to every one of my customers.
I hate sanding, so I make sure I have to do as little as necessary. In fact, I rarely sand in a grinding fashion at all anymore. Heavy sanding is not necessary because I do not apply extra mud which will then need sanded off, the method used by professionals. More often, I "brush" the joints off with a sander or drywall knife to remove any burrs or debris from the previous coat. Excessive sanding leads to more dust on the walls and everywhere else, which can cause scratches in the next coat. It can also rough up the drywall paper to the point that will require another skim coat of mud to fix. Sanding should be very minimal.
Sheetrock Brand UltraLight drywall panels are a dream come true. U.S.G. has created a drywall panel that is up to 30% lighter that standard 1/2 in. drywall, the lightest 1/2 in. drywall available today. It is also stronger, able to span 24" on-center ceiling trusses (sag-resistant), and easier to cut with less rasping and dust. This means less fuel to transport the materials and to haul away the leftover scraps, and less gypsum used to for a better product. It also means the drywall in your home will be stronger, giving it more strength and putting weight on your walls, ceilings and foundation. Finally, it means that I will not have to lift as much weight, and I have sturdier and easier to use panels to work, which allow me to be more efficient. I have used 3 other brand name attempts to replicate the qualities of UltraLight , but UltraLight is easily the best and lightest to use.
A piece of string pulled tight between two points will create a straight line. This building technology dates back to the pyramids or longer, and is still used around the world today by building trades of all types in many forms including the plumb bob, and the chalk line. The electronic version is lasers, and yet the string-line is still the most often used choice.
This is how to tie a string-line, and untie it for reuse without cutting the string. You will need two nails and a piece of string. Put the first nail in where you want the line to start. Then, take a loop tied on the end of the string and hook it over the nail. Place the second nail where you want the line to end, pull the other end of the string to it. Fold the remaining bit of string in half, having the center where the nail would be. Then put your finger in the bend and rotate it causing the sting to twist onto itself 5-6 times. Put the bend over the second nail, leaving the twists in.
Next, with one hand, pull the main part of the string tighter towards the second nail while simultaneously pulling the loose end towards the first nail, taking up the slack in the main part of the string. When the string has reached the desired tautness, pull the loose end back past the second nail, causing the twists to cinch in towards the second nail, stacking on top of one another creating a "tie" mechanism. Your string is now tied into place. The string is easily undone by pulling the loose end back towards the first nail causing the twists to stretch out and undo the "tie". The string may be made tighter or looser by adding or removing the slack in the line, however you must pull the string tight enough that there is no sagging.
United States Gypsum Company (USG) was incorporated in 1901 by consolidating 30 different gypsum and plaster companies. This resulted in forming the first nationwide gypsum company in the United States. The company is the largest distributor of wallboard in the United States and the largest manufacturer and marketer of gypsum products in North America, including wallboard, joint compound, building plasters and cement board. USG is also the world's largest manufacturer of ceiling suspension grid, and the second largest producer of ceiling tile in the world.
The company produces the widely-used SheetrockTM gypsum wallboard as well as DurockTM cement board, operating in 17 gypsum board plants and 14 joint treatments plants in the United States. They also operate 5 paper mills that produce high-grade wallboard paper from 100% recycled paper, meaning they are a green company. USG continues to lead the industry with the creation of light-weight joint compound, joint-compound with dust control, mold resistant drywall and now UltraLight Drywall.
I have used many brands of drywall, mud and tapes over the years, but none compare in quality of product and ease of use to USG.