Why drywall isn't a great DIY Project

Why drywall isn't a great DIY Project

(ANGIE'S LIST) - Many home improvement projects lend themselves to doing it yourself. Drywall isn't necessarily one of those. It is messy, has more steps and takes more time than most homeowners realize.

Angie's List founder, Angie Hicks says "DIY projects can be a lot of fun but, honestly, drywall is a lot harder than it looks. It's heavy material, takes lots of tools. It's really best left to the professionals."

If you plan to hire a professional, Angie's List says to get at least three bids and compare their cost with materials you'd need to do it yourself. You may discover that you don't have all the proper tools and materials you need.

"Do you have a hawk? Do you have a mud pan? Do you have a putty knife laying around your house? I know I don't" Hicks says. "Those are all different types of tools you are going to use even for a small drywall job. If you are drywalling an entire room, it's going to be even more materials. That's why this is a job when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, is really probably best priced out by a professional."

If you decide to go with a professional, Angie's List also provides these questions to ask before you hire.

  • Does your contractor have a local office? You want to make sure they finish the job if any problems occur.
  • Is this company insured with adequate coverage, including worker's compensation insurance and general liability insurance? Ask for copies of these policies and keep them on file.
  • Is the company in good standing with its trade association?
  • How long has the company been in business?

Hicks says to make sure to check references and reviews. Get everything in writing and make sure the contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon.

If you still are considering this as a Do-It-Yourself project, Angie's List provides the following as a D.I.Y. Guide.

Tools & Materials Needed

  • Drywall knife — a 6-inch specialty knife
  • Mud pan
  • Utility knife to cut new drywall
  • Drywall tape — paper or fiberglass mesh
  • Joint compound
  • Scrap wood and a saw to cut it
  • Drywall — some stores sell smaller chunks for patching
  • Sanding block — 150-grit foam blocks work well for small jobs
  • Paint rollers, brushes, paint trays

1. Prepare the patch area: Cut a square around the damage using a utility knife, keyhole saw or handheld oscillating. Avoid wires and plumbing.

2. Add support: Cut two pieces of wood that measure bigger than the top and bottom of the hole. Put the wood inside the wall, with half hidden so you can screw through the drywall into the wood.

3. Install new drywall: Measure the square hole you just cut. Subtract a quarter of an inch from the width and height, and cut your new piece of drywall to these measurements. Place the piece in the hole and attach it with drywall screws to the scrap wood. To cut drywall, score a line in the paper coating across one end. Flip the piece and hit it, so it pops and folds open, then cut the paper on that side. For example, if you need an 8-by-13-inch piece, first score an 8-inch line all the way across the end, pop it and cut it off. Now you have an 8-inch by 4-foot piece, so score a 13-inch line on the cutoff piece, and so on.

4. Apply the tape coat: Fill the mud pan. If using a powder, rather than pre-mixed mud, mix it with water without making it too soupy. If using mesh tape, stick it over the seams first. Then apply the compound. If using paper tape, first spread the compound over the seams. Then cut pieces of the paper tape about as long as the seams and smooth them into the joint compound with your drywall knife. Press hard, to press the tape flat into the mud. Paper tape is firmer than mesh and better for corners. Mesh tape is better for high-moisture areas and sticks to the wall, speeding up the patching process.

5. Apply additional coats: Typically, two more coats of joint compound will secure the drywall. Wait until the previous coat is dry, and before applying more, scrape flat any ridges in the previous coat. Each coat should spread out further than the last to help hide the bump. For the third coat, spread the joint compound on each side of the seam, rather than just over top. Clean the mud between coats.

6. Sand and paint: When dry, sand the joint compound flat in circular motions. Flatten it against the old wall to avoid lines. Paint over the patch with primer. If bumps remain, add another coat of joint compound. When primed, paint wall color over the patch and an additional foot on each side to hide the patch.

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