? Drywall Pros and Cons
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Drywall Pros and Cons

Should you do it yourself or hire a pro? Lets examine typical drywall pros and cons

Hanging and finishing drywall is a really big job. It may not look like it, but trust me when I say that it is. I know this site focuses on doing stuff yourself, but I'll take some time to talk about typical do-it-yourself drywall pros and cons.

Yeah, its heavy.

For one thing, drywall is heavy. How heavy? A regular 1/2" thick 4' x 8' drywall panel weighs around 70 lbs. If your home theater measures around 600 sq. feet, you're looking at about 22 panels for the interior walls. And that doesn't count the ceiling; add an extra 12 panels for that.

If you plan on building your home theater in the basement, you'll have to get each panel into your house, navigate around the kitchen, dining room, or whatever to the stairs, head all the way downstairs without scraping the walls, and carefully stack them on the basement floor. Sounds Ok, but after three or four panels, your fingers will start screaming.

If you happen to be doing your entire basement, as I've done (1,200 sq.ft.), then well you get the picture.

If you're moving the panels yourself, you'll absolutely need a panel carry. Its a plastic holder that's indispensible for moving large, flat sheets around like drywall or plywood. If you've got a buddy, getting a pair of these panel carrys will save you a ton of time.

On the flip side, a professional team of 4 drywallers will have those panels in your basement in no time flat.

Time vs. Cost.

Paying for a pro to do your drywall will shave a lot of time off your finished project. On the other hand, doing it yourself will cost you nothing but will take much longer. At this point, you have to ask yourself how much your time is worth.

The cost to hire a single, experienced professional drywaller is about $25 to $30/hour. Expect to pay this hourly rate for each person on a team of drywallers. Sounds like a lot, but your drywall job will be done very quickly; within a week or less depending on the size of the job. Some drywall contractors pay their people based on the number of panels they hang and/or finish in one day. Others pay a flat, hourly rate so find out when you get bids.

If you do the job yourself, you'll save a lot of money, but you'll need specialized tools that you'll have to buy yourself. Drywall (box cutter) knives and saws, hawks, and mud mixers are all pretty cheap, but you'll likely never need to use them again. You can rent a drywall lift to help mount panels on the ceiling, or you can buy one and then sell it when you're done.

If you have a full-time job, you'll be stuck doing the work during the evenings and over the weekends. In your head you may think you can get it all done in 1 or two months at that rate, but you'd be surprised how long it can really take when life gets in the way.

The do-it-yourself pride factor.

This was totally me. I wanted to do the job myself because I wanted to say to people "Yup! I did everything." and listen to them go "Ooooh". The downside is it took a really long time. To frame, drywall, mud, and paint my entire 1,300sq. ft. basement took a little under two years. That included a few months here and there of downtime but I'm glad its done.

Quality of finished job.

Another one of the drywall pros and cons is the quality of the finished product. There's nothing like a quality drywall job. You can't see any joints, there's no dust left behind, and the walls are as smooth as a baby's bottom. If you've never drywalled before and are learning on-the-job with your own project, then you're definitely going to make some mistakes. The beauty of any mistakes made when hanging drywall is that you can usually fix the problems during the mudding phase, but its time consuming.

When learning to mud from scratch, always start in an inconspicuous part of the room. Any mistakes made there won't be as easily seen. If you're handy, you'll get better at it fairly quickly.

If your framing job isn't perfect, don't think it won't show through the drywall. I have a spot where a particular stud dried and curved outward. I was too lazy to replace it because of the way I mounted the wall so I left it.

That spot also happens to be where one of my drywall seams ended up so I had to compromise between sanding too much and scraping away the surface of the drywall panel, or leaving too high a bump. You can see the result as a minor hump along that seam when the sun hits it just right. I point it out to people when I talk about my experience. I just say it adds character to the room. :)

I really like stuff that's over engineered. Cheap things don't appeal to me at all, so when I framed my walls, I used two 3 1/2" wood screws at each end of the studs. I measured everything so it would be tight and snug between the cement floor and the floor joists above when I'd raise the wall into position.

I used a Tapcon masonry screw about every 2 feet to hold the wall down and an equal number of 3 1/2 wood screws into the top plate. My walls may not all be perfectly built, but they're certainly solid. Ripping out that stud that later became crooked would have been hard. The truth is I was just lazy and my finished drywall job would have looked nicer had I done it.

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