Tips on How to Build a Drywall Ceiling

One of the first things the do-it-yourselfer realizes when learning how to build a drywall ceiling is that no man is an island – unless he uses rented equipment! Because the panels are big, bulky, and awkward, hanging drywall on a ceiling entails one or the other: the help of another person or renting a drywall jack from your local home improvement center. The cable mechanism on drywall jacks is not difficult to operate, and jacks do an excellent job of holding the drywall in a secure, flat position enabling you to more easily attach it to the ceiling.

Tools & Materials

How to build a drywall ceiling includes knowing what all tools and material you’ll need. In addition to either another person to help you or a drywall jack, you’ll also need a hammer, a drill with a screwdriver bit, and nails or screws for drywall. You’ll also, of course, need to measure your ceiling (twice!) and purchase enough drywall, including a little extra in case of mistakes, to do the job.

Mark Joists First

Find the boards – usually 2x4s or 2x6s – that function as ceiling joists by tapping along the wall studs with a hammer and following up the wall to the ceiling. As part of learning how to build a drywall ceiling, mark where these boards are located with a pencil. These are what you will be attaching the drywall to and marking them beforehand makes it much easier to find them than trying to find them as you are nailing or screwing on the drywall. You then need to measure where the light fixture goes on the drywall and cut out a hole to accommodate that area of the ceiling.

The Tough Part

Now’s the part in learning how to build a drywall ceiling where you’ll need the other person (who hopefully has plenty of stamina in addition to strength!) to hold the drywall up to the ceiling or to put the drywall panel on the jack. Position the end of the sheet of drywall – with its finished side facing down – at the center of the ceiling board (joist) to which you are going to nail it. Nail around the outside of the panel about a half an inch from the edges to prevent the drywall from splitting or cracking. The person who is holding the panel can now move or, if you’re using a jack, you can move it out of the way.

Make It Pretty

Countersink nails or screws at six- or seven-inch intervals all along the length of the joist to which the drywall has been attached. Countersinking allows you to cover up the heads of the nails/screws with compound so that when you paint, the heads won’t be at all visible. Although not really a part of knowing how to build a drywall ceiling, learning how to cover up ugly nail or screw heads serves its own purpose for overall general carpentry knowledge.

Learning how to build a drywall ceiling takes a lot more muscle than to attach the sheets to the walls, but it can be done with a little thought, at least one other person, and/or a jack. It really is pretty hard work, but, hey, after all – you can do anything, right?