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Preparing to Replace the Drywall

There's a good chance that, if your home was built in the last 50 years, the walls are made of drywall rather than plaster.  This is because, more so than plaster, drywall is an easy-to-use material for interior building projects that is also inexpensive. Drywall has a gypsum core that can handle a lot of abuse and stress, and thus, walls made of the material tend to have long lives. Because it's so affordable and easy to install, even the average homeowner can work with it with few headaches. 

Still, even though drywall tends to have along life, there are times when you will find yourself needing to repair or replace the wall, or perhaps needing to repair cracks in old plaster walls with drywall. If so, the following tips are for you.  You should understand, though, that before you begin any major construction project, you need to have an inspection done just to make sure the house's mechanical work and insulation are satisfactory. (This is step is probably not needed if you're just filling in a few cracks or holes--only if you plan to completely replace walls, or to install new ones)

Before you start your drywall construction, you need to do some preparation work. The first step is to check the temperature. The room where the work is to be done should be no colder than 55 degrees for two consecutive days.  Also, notice the humidity. If it's quite low, make sure you have adequate ventilation for the project.

The next preparation step is to check the joists and studs. Before you start putting up new drywall, these should be straight and stable, spaced the correct distance apart, with the nailing facing flush. Each corner must have nailers.  Make sure that the drywall edges are completely supported. Also check inside the walls, making sure the insulation is good and that you have vapor barriers. Also, make sure there is no risk of drywall screws tearing through any pipe or wire. If you notice that there are pipes or wires going through a hole, make sure it's an inch or two from the wood's inch. If not, you need to place a 1/16 inch metal plate along the wood's edge to protect it.

After all this, you need to figure out exactly how many drywall sheets your project will require. This means you need to measure the length and width of both ceiling and walls, to arrive at their square footage. Add to this number ten percent just to ensure that you'll have enough after waste. Add together to arrive at the total square footage. Now divide this number by 32 (if you're using four foot by eight foot drywall sheets) or by 30 (if you're using four foot by ten foot sheets). This will tell you how many drywall sheets you'll need for your project.

Next, you need to figure out how much of all other supplies you'll need (such as joint compound, joint tape, screws and nails). Here is a formula that will help you with this: For each thousand square feet of drywall, get 140 lbs of joint compound (ready-mix variety), 370 ft. joint tape, and 700 each of nails and screws.

Finally, our last word on preparation for a drywall project: Stay safe. Countless reports declare that respiratory problems can result from breathing too much gypsum dust. It's also been known to cause some eye irritation. For this reason, before you start the drywall work, make sure you put on safety glasses and a mask. Nothing ruins the joy of finishing a project well like ruining your health in the process.

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