Hanging Drywall in Basement

Basement, Blog, Home / Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

In the ongoing saga of finishing half of our basement, we’ve been making slow progress. So far, Ellie and I have bought the bulk of the materials, and we have insulated two of the rooms. After insulation, the logical next step is to hang the drywall.

Hanging drywall in the basement is not a particularly interesting topic, but it’s an important part of the whole. There were a lot more little steps I needed to think about rather than just slapping the sheets up on the wall.

First, I needed to get all the drywall down into the basement. I think we ordered 60 sheets of 1/2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. sheetrock. I can’t remember how heavy each piece is, but it is heavy enough that I could only carry one at a time. So I made 60 trips from our staging in the sun porch down into the basement where we piled them up. Due to how our stairs into our basement are built, it made it easier for one person to carry the sheet and then hand it off once down into the basement. There’s a tight 90-degree turn in the stairs where you need to pivot underneath the drywall. Since Ellie cannot lift as much as I can, I was the workhorse here but it was a welcome moment once she was able to step in and grab an end of each sheet to add to the pile. Regardless, I was sore the following week.

After that, the basement windows needed to be framed with wood so I had something to attach the drywall to around the windows. To do this, I chopped up pieces of 2x3s and screwed them into the existing studs and the ceiling joists. I have a hunch I should have left a little more room between the edge of the window and the 2×3 because I’m not sure how I’m going to cover the wood on the tops and insides when it comes time. I’ll play it by ear.

Basement drywall window

Next, I needed to decide how I was going to hang the sheets of drywall. Horizontally or vertically. Oftentimes the sheets are hung horizontally because it spans more studs that way and can be staggered to give a wall more rigidity. However, since I was hanging these over concrete walls, I don’t think I needed to add any rigidity to the wall. In fact, when I asked my dad for advice, he thought it would be best to hang it in a way that created the fewest seams. Horizontally it was then!

Finally, it became a matter of cutting the sheets and hanging them. The ceilings in our basement are 7 1/2 feet, so we needed to slice 6 inches off of each sheet. We also needed to cut out holes for the electrical, around the windows, and around the HVAC duct. Corners and above the doors had to be cut to size. Let me tell you, our walls are not straight for some reason or another. Like the insulation, we had to deal with the previous owner installing the studs at odd intervals. This proved to be an issue when we couldn’t get a stud behind the edge of the board like you’re supposed to and that was more often than not.

Basement drywall two walls

Eventually, we got into a rhythm. We’d slice the piece off the top and cut out any other special features. Then, Ellie and I would stand it up into place on the wall, getting it as close as we could to the previous piece. Ellie would hold it in place while I drove a few screws into it. Just enough to hold it. Slowly, we worked our way around the basement. It was easier going than the insulation because we didn’t need to fit every piece into an oddly shaped space.

Once everything was up, I went back around the basement to more securely fasten the sheets to the wall. I wanted to use enough screws to know it wasn’t going to move ever, but not enough that it would be super hard to mud the walls. 

Each night, after an hour or so of work, I would happily look at the basement. What was once dreary concrete was slowly looking to be a livable space. 

We did have one small panic moment after we were nearly done hanging all the drywall. We had some heavy rains and when we went into the basement, there was a pool of water coming from behind one of the sheets of drywall. I pulled the drywall off found some offending holes, filled them with a silicone caulk and covered it with the As Seen on TV tape, which works really well. However, what I think I did that really fixed the problem was going out into the rain and clear a clogged gutter which was causing the water to run off the roof right into the flower beds where the leak was coming in. So, note to my future self, never let the gutters get clogged.

Basement drywall panorama done

What do you think? Have Ellie and I gotten in over our heads yet?

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