Our goal in this drywall installation price guide is to inform readers in key areas:
- What is Drywall?
- Drywall types available for your project
- Drywall prices including how jobs are estimated, how much it will cost to install drywall and factors which affect the cost of drywall installation
- An overview of drywall installation including the tools required
- Links to pages from around the Web that offer useful information about drywall installation and prices
- User-submitted drywall prices for you to consider as you plan your drywall installation project
Drywall is used in residences and commercial buildings to create interior wall and ceiling surfaces. It is typically fastened with drywall screws to the wood studs that form the wall structure.
Also known as wallboard, sheetrock or gypsum board, drywall has largely replaced traditional lath and plaster surfaces because drywall is easier and less costly to both install and repair.
Drywall is formed from a mixture of gypsum, which is a soft sulfate mineral, water and added materials that increase strength. Flame-resisting or mildew-retarding elements are included in some types of drywall.
Most often, the gypsum plaster is sandwiched between thick paper to create a smooth surface that is easy to paint or cover with wallpaper. The final step in the production is to cut the drywall into sheets of various sizes including 4’x8’, 4’x9’, 4’x10’, 4’x12, 4’x14’ and 4’x16’.
Drywall is made in various thicknesses. In the United States, these include 1/4″, 3/8”, 1/2″ and 5/8”. Each has its own purpose, and we’ve created a complete Guide to Drywall Types and Prices that covers this topic in detail. There, you’ll learn more about:
- Standard drywall: This is drywall that is not enhanced for resistance to moisture, fire or sound. It is suitable for use in all areas except rooms where high humidity levels are common or where fire-resistant drywall is required by the building code
- Moisture-resistant drywall: Called “green board” in the trade, it is the right choice for bathrooms, kitchens and other humid locations due to water-resistant additives in the paper facing; It is used in basements and sometimes installed throughout homes in very humid climates
- Paperless drywall: Rather than paper, the gypsum core of this product is sheathed with a thin layer of fiberglass that does not absorb moisture, so this material is more resistant to moisture (though not waterproof) and the mold it can cause
- Fire-resistant drywall: As the name implies, this material is not easily penetrated by heat and flames, so is often required by the building code for use in garage walls and utility rooms
- Sound-control drywall: Additives to the drywall or membranes attached to it reduce the transmission of sound through walls, and this material is used wherever noise reduction is important
Drywall Thickness Options
There are several choices for drywall thickness, and each one has specific applications.
- 1/4-inch: Ideal for use covering existing surfaces to create a smooth finish; Shouldn’t be used alone, as it offers little strength or stability
- 3/8-inch: Once the most common size, 3/8” drywall is now most used to replace or repair existing 3/8” panels or to cover existing walls to produce a clean, smooth surface; This thickness should not be used on ceilings because it is not strong enough to resist sagging
- 1/2-inch: This is the most common size used; Some manufactures produce a lighter-weight version of 1/2″ drywall to make it easier to install, though some strength is lost
- 5/8-inch: Drywall enhanced with fire-resistant chemicals or material used for sound-proofing a room is often made in this thickness
There are two distinct phases of drywall installation; hanging the sheets of drywall and finishing the screw holes and the joints where drywall sheets abut. In many jobs, the drywall hanging and the drywall finishing are done by separate crews since the skill sets required for each are quite different.
Here are drywall installation cost factors with examples of drywall prices for hanging and finishing the drywall. Keep in mind that drywall repair prices are quite different because of how time-consuming repairs are. See our guide Drywall Repair Prices and Costs for complete information on repairs.
Drywall Hanging Costs
The type of drywall you choose is the most significant factor in cost for this phase of installation.
Keep in mind that these estimates are based on the amount of wall space, not floor space. For example, a room 20’x15’ has 300 square feet of floor space. However, how much wall space it has is determined by the height of the walls. Here’s an example using standard 8’ walls in a room that is 20’x15’:
Table 1: How to alculate the square footage of your room for drywall installation
|Wall #1: 20’L x 8’H||160 square feet|
|Wall #2: 15’L x 8’H||120 square feet|
|Wall #3: 20’L x 8’H||160 square feet|
|Wall #4: 15’L x 8’H||120 square feet|
|Total wall space:||560 square feet|
Now, here are the ranges for drywall installation price estimates you’ll receive from local contractors. These costs include the drywall material, the fasteners required to hang it and the cost of labor.
Table 2: Estimating drywall hanging cost by thickness and square footage, including materials and labor
|Drywall Thickness||Cost Per Square Foot (Sq. Ft)|
|Standard 1/4″||$0.24 to $0.32 per square foot|
|Standard 3/8”||$0.27 to $0.34 per square foot|
|Standard 1/2”||$0.30 to $0.37 per square foot|
|Standard 5/8”||$0.34 to $0.41 per square foot|
|Moisture-resistant drywall||$0.40 to $0.48 per square foot|
|Heat/Fire-resistant drywall||$0.34 to $0.42 per square foot|
|Sound-barrier drywall||$0.95 to $2.25 per square foot|
The longer the sheet of drywall is, the less it will cost per square foot for the material, hanging it and for finishing it. Make sure your drywall contractor is using the longest sheets possible in order to reduce costs and the number of seams.
Drywall Finishing Costs
Finishing drywall is a time-consuming process and requires quite a bit of skill to produce a professional appearance. For these reasons, drywall finishing costs more than hanging the drywall.
The process includes using paper or mesh tape to cover the joints where sheets abut, covering the tape with joint compound (a.k.a. drywall mud) and then sanding the compound once it is dry. Typically, three coats of mud are used, and each coat requires about 24 hours drying time before sanding can be started. An overview of drywall finishing is included below.
Table 3: Estimating drywall finishing cost by square footage
|Cost Per Square Foot (Sq. Ft)|
|Drywall finishing costs||$1.00 to $1.65 per square foot|
When you add up the totals for hanging drywall and finishing it for most types of material, your total drywall installation costs should be in this range:
Table 4: Drywall installation cost by square footage, including material, hanging and finishing
|Drywall Installation Costs||Cost Per Square Foot (Sq. Ft)|
|Drywall hanging costs (average)||$0.24 – $2.25|
|Drywall finishing costs (average)||$1.00 to $1.65|
|Total drywall installation cost||$1.30 to $4.00|
- Total drywall installation costs: $1.30 to $2.10 per square foot.
Drywall that includes an advanced sound barrier will cost as much as $4.00 per square foot.
We’ve covered the basics of the costs of hanging drywall and drywall finishing prices, but the characteristics of some jobs increase the drywall installation estimates you receive from contractors. You’ll probably get higher drywall estimates if any of these situations apply to you.
Removing old material: If your project is remodeling existing space rather than new construction, the old drywall may need to be removed first. This is a labor-intensive and messy job. There are disposal fees too. You can save money by doing the work yourself and paying for disposal only. Here are drywall removal costs you can expect to pay depending on who does the work:
- DIY removal with disposal: $0.40 to $1.00 per square foot
- Removal by a handyman with disposal: $1.25 to $2.10 per square foot
- Removal by a drywall contractor with disposal: $2.00 to $3.25 per square foot
Due to the high cost of removing old drywall, many homeowners tackle this part of the job themselves. It requires nothing more than a hammer and perhaps a small saw, and a dust mask and eye protection should be worn. Roll-off containers (dumpsters) are often rented for discarding the material. Turn off the electricity in the area you’re working as a safety measure.
Need for scaffolding: If you have a cathedral or vaulted ceiling, or very high walls, it’s likely that the drywall installer and finishers will need scaffolding for the work. This can add $0.40 to $0.75 per square foot to those areas where height is a factor.
Large number of corners: Homes with complex designs are often very beautiful, but the architecture does increase the cost of construction. If your home has more than eight corners, including bow windows, breakfast nooks or entryways, expect to pay more per square foot for drywall installation.
Working around cabinets and countertops: In remodeling jobs, if you’re not replacing cabinets, countertops, built-in bookshelves and similar structures, the drywall hanging and finishing estimates will be higher.
Smooth Ceilings: Have you noticed that most drywalled ceilings are textured? You might think that this would cost more than smooth, but in reality, texturing a ceiling costs less. The reason is there is much more labor involved in applying the coats of mud and sanding necessary to create a smooth ceiling. A textured ceiling is done in one coat after joints are taped.
How Long Does it Take to Install Drywall?
A crew of four people can hang 1,500 to 2,500 square feet of drywall per day depending on the difficulty of the work. One or two people can complete the mudding and sanding job in three days:
- Day 1: Mud the joints, apply tape over the mud and add a layer of compound (coats 1 & 2)
- Day 2: Sand and mud (coat 3)
- Day 3: Sand and clean up
An alternate method is to use self-adhesive tape to cover the joints. The tape is more expensive than standard seam paper, but sometimes just two coats of compound, rather than three, are required. Talk with your drywall contractor about the best approach to your project.
Even if you plan to hire a drywall contractor to do the work, you’ll benefit from knowing the basics of installation and the tools required. This information will help you discuss the work with drywall pros as you get written estimates for drywall installation. If you decide to do the work yourself, this brief overview will provide a head start on your DIY education.
Tool list for hanging drywall:
- Tape measure
- Chalk line or pencil
- Drywall knife
- Utility knife
- Stud finder
- Drywall hammer for nails
- Drywall screw gun, drill or driver
The materials required for hanging drywall include the right drywall for your application and drywall screws. The most common size screws are 1 ¼”. Some drywall hangers ensure an extra-sturdy hold by applying construction glue to the studs before covering them with drywall.
Hanging Drywall: Here is a brief overview of the process of hanging drywall. This isn’t meant to be a step-by-step drywall guide, but it will give you an idea of what the work entails. As a result, you’ll be better able to decide whether you want to tackle the work yourself or hire a contractor.
- Start at the top of the wall. If the sheet is longer than the width of the room, measure for it and pre-cut the sheet to be 1/4″ short.
- Fit the sheet of drywall tight against the ceiling, and begin driving screws through the drywall into the studs. Where you can’t see the studs, use a stud finder to locate them. Screws should be placed approximately 16 inches apart. Note that the leading edge of each horizontal sheet of drywall should only cover about half the stud, leaving the other half available for mounting the next sheet.
- Butt pieces of drywall end to end when the width of the wall is greater than one sheet. Pre-cut the sheet for length. Pre-measure for electrical boxes. Locate them with a screw of punch, and then use a drywall saw to cut around the inside perimeter of the boxes. Be careful not to cut the housing on wires within the box.
- For a window opening with no window yet installed, cover the opening with a sheet of drywall. Use a drywall saw or router and cut horizontally and vertically until you find the edges of the window opening. Trim the piece around the entire opening.
- If a window is in place already, remove the trim, if it’s been installed, and pre-cut the sheet of drywall to accommodate the window. The trim will be replaced after the drywall is finished and painted. Follow the same strategy for cutting around door openings.
- You might notice that one side of the drywall isn’t tapered. Use a utility knife to taper the edge in order to make it easier to hide during the mudding and taping process.
- Continue adding horizontal courses of drywall until you reach the floor. The lowest course of drywall should be cut so that it sits about 1/2″ off the floor. Small blocks of wood or a toe-lift tool can be used to assist in this process.
- Protect exterior corners with strips of material called corner bead. The angled bead is typically metal, though vinyl corner bead is available too. Cut it to the right length, place it over the corner, and nail it to the studs.
Tool and materials list for finishing drywall:
- Joint tape
- Joint compound (mud), either more expensive pre-mixed or cheaper powder
- Mixing tools if using powder joint compound mix
- Six-inch and ten-inch taping knives for spreading the compound
- Corner trowel for applying mud to interior corners
- Pole sander for easier reach
- Drywall sanding screens to fit the pole sander
- Dust masks
- Ladder or scaffolding for ceilings and high walls
- Shop vacuum for cleanup
Finishing Drywall: The job of adding tape and compound and then sanding it to make joints disappear might seem easy, but it takes a lot of experience to have the work look professional. That’s what even most DIY enthusiasts hire a professional drywall finisher. However, if you want to gain experience, here’s a brief overview of the steps to finishing drywall that will help you understand what’s involved.
- Make sure that all screw heads are below the surface of the drywall. Any that are sticking up can be located by running a taping knife over the surface. Tighten any fasteners that contact the knife blade.
- If using non-adhesive joint tape, cover all joints with joint compound (coat 1) and then run the tape over the joints to embed it in the compound. When using self-adhering tape, mud does not need to be applied first.
- Apply the second coat of joint compound over the tape in the corners and all flat surfaces. On flat surfaces, the compound should extend a few inches beyond the tape. Feather the edges of the compound. Cover all screw holes too.
- When the compound is dry, usually in 20 to 30 hours unless you’re using quick-dry compound, lightly sand it. Remove all ridges and bumps. Wear goggles and a dust mask when sanding. The use of screens versus standard sandpaper is advisable because sandpaper clogs quickly with drywall dust while screens handle the dust better and can be cleared of dust with a few sharp taps.
- Repeat this mud (coat 3) and sand cycle.
- Prime the drywall to prepare it for paint or wallpaper.
The following table provides a list of user submitted drywall installation costs from around the U.S. Help us build this list by providing your recent price quote through our contact form here.
|Type||Details||Where?||Sq. Ft.||Cost Per Sq .Ft||Total Cost|
|Install||4 x 8 sheets of paper faced 1/2 inch thick gypsum board||Kitchen||150 sq. ft.||$2.08||$312.00|
|Install||1/2 inch moisture reistant sheetrock, 9 ft height ceiling||Various Rooms||650 sq. ft.||$1.99||$1,292.91|
|Install||1/2 inch standard drywall to kitchen and extension, 8 ft height ceiling||Kitchen and Dining Extension||300 sq. ft.||$1.86||$558.31|
|Install||Installdrywall into garage conversion.||Garage||144 sq. ft.||$5.20||$748|
|Install and Repair||Repair and install following water damage.||Various Rooms||315 sq. ft.||$3.80||$1200|
|Install and Repair||Repair a ceiling following foot through ceiling accident||Upstairs Bedroom||12 sq. ft.||$12.50||$150|
We’ve gathered a list of helpful resources to provide you with additional information as you plan your drywall installation project.
Estimating Drywall Labor Costs: This article offers help for understanding how drywall jobs are estimated by contractors. It also discusses why drywall repair costs more per square foot than hanging fresh drywall.
How Much Does Drywall Cost?: If you want to know average prices for sheets of drywall in its various sizes, this page will help.
Drywall Sizes and Thicknesses – A Concise Guide: This guide covers the options for the thickness and sizes of drywall available. It will help you select the right drywall for your application. The site includes a good overview of types including standard, fire-resistant and moisture-resistant drywall.
What is Paperless Drywall?: The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors offers a good discussion of paperless drywall – what it is and where it is best used.
Removing Old Drywall: Removing old drywall is an expensive project, as this article points out. That’s why many homeowners seek to cut costs by doing this part of the job themselves.
How Do You Hang Drywall – A DIY Guide: A helpful article on the Home Depot site gives a solid overview of how to hang drywall.
How Do You Finish Drywall – A DIY Guide: If you’re planning to finish the drywall yourself, this 18-step guide from Popular Mechanics will help you get professional results.
Installing Drywall In A Wet Room – A Guide: If you are installing green board drywall, i.e. drywall that is manufactured to resist moisture, this guide from a contractor will help you achieve the water-resistant, mold-resistant results you want.
Mudding and Taping Drywall: Watch a professional as he mixes drywall compound and applies mud and tape to drywall joints and corners.
Gathering Your Tools – What You’ll Need for Drywalling: Here’s a video from a drywall manufacturer that shows you the tools required for drywall finishing and gives a demonstration of the complete finishing process.
User Submitted Prices