How to install a drywall ceiling
Hanging heavy sheets to install a drywall ceiling is not complicated, but it can be difficult if you don’t plan ahead and know what you’re doing every step of the way.
Plan the work flow to install a drywall ceiling
If you’ll be working alone when installing the drywall ceiling, you’ll need two ladders so you can access each end of the drywall without moving a ladder every time.
If you aren’t using a drywall lift when you install the ceiling, make a T-brace by attaching a 2-foot long piece of 2×4 at one end of a second 2×4 that is about 1 foot longer than the ceiling is high. You’ll use this brace to support one end of the drywall while you support the other.
Avoid using 12-foot sheets of drywall, as they will be heavier and cumbersome for one person to handle.
If you have helpers for the project, organize the work flow for maximize efficiency. For example, designate one person to work the floor – retrieving new sheets of drywall as you need them, passing one end at a time up to the people on the scaffolding or construction ladders, and passing tools and materials as needed.
Handle drywall sheets carefully, passing them from the floor to whatever work platform you are using without damaging them. A crew of more than four will likely end up tripping over one another in most rooms.
Start the drywall ceiling in a corner
Apply drywall adhesive to the ceiling joists, starting in one corner where you can use a full sheet – trimming as necessary. The rest of the sheets will follow this first one, so make sure it is set properly and square with the room before fastening.
Apply only as much adhesive as you will be able to cover in about 10 minutes. It will be dry after about 15 minutes. Stagger drywall seams as you normally would with a wall installation.
Mark all joist locations around the room. This will allow you to sight along the joist as you drive screws, avoiding misses and the wasted time of removing screws that don’t hit anything.
Drive fasteners fully without ripping the surface paper. Drive fasteners about ⅜-inch away from the edges and every 7 inches along the perimeter. Drive fasteners about 12 inches apart along the interior joists.
Where there will be any penetration to the drywall sheets, such as recessed lighting or other electrical housings, drive only a few fasteners to hold the sheet securely yet loosely in place while you make the cutout with a rotary tool.
This will give you enough play to push the drywall up and down to test the fit around the penetration. When the fit is right, fasten everything tightly.