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Sheets of plasterboard are used in most rooms for ceilings and walls before they are painted. Standard sheets of plasterboard are 1\2 inch thick X 4 foot X 8 foot sheets. In most cases, these will be used for walls and ceilings but you can choose longer sheets when they will reduce the number of joints. There are water resistant sheets of plasterboard for kitchens and bathrooms. In cases where the building code requires that fire resistant sheets of plasterboard be used, these can be purchased in 5\8 inch sheets. Be sure to check with your local building inspector before purchasing plasterboard to make sure you are working with materials that meet your local building codes.

To install plasterboard you will also need joint compound and tape, annular ring nails and metal corner beads for corners that project outward. The tools you will need include a round head hammer, an angled tool for finishing corners, a 4 inch flat blade knife and a 10 inch flat blade knife for finishing joints. When the room's framing is uneven you will need to put furring strips over the entire surface. You will also need furring strips when covering masonry or plaster. These should be spaced 24 inches apart from center to center for standard plasterboard and 16 inches apart if you are using 3\8 inch plasterboard. Since the long edges are usually tapered on plasterboard, when two pieces are put side by side they will form a recess for the joint tape and compound. But the short ends are not tapered and it is harder to hide a joint between them. Because of this you will want to keep your joints to a minimum, staggering them to avoid forming a long noticeable seam. You should never join an end to a taped edge for any reason. Try to make sure the edges fall along a joist, a stud or receives support at the corners. Strive for support at regular intervals when hanging plasterboard. It is better to use partial sheets in the ceiling than for walls. Never put joints along the edge of a window or door edge since setting the frame and shrinkage will cause cracks. Always try to cover a window or door area with a full sheet and then cut out the openings.

Begin by making a T brace from a 2 X 4 by cutting a piece that is two inches longer than the ceiling height and nailing a 3 foot piece to one end. You will need to start with the ceiling of the room in one corner. Work across the ceiling, butting the sheets end to end. When lifting a piece into place, hold one end while climbing a ladder. Have a helper raise and wedge the T brace under the other end of the sheet. Be sure when doing this that the end you are joining will fall along the center of the joist. Starting in the center of the sheet, hammer pairs of nails about two inches apart into each joist. This should be done in 12 inch intervals. Drive single nails at 7 inch intervals along the edges being careful to stay 3\8 inch from the sides of the sheet. Press the plasterboard tightly against the joist as you nail and make sure each nail is a bit deeper than flush but not deep enough to break the paper.

When you need to cut a sheet simply draw a line on the face side and lightly cut it using a utility knife. Place a 2 X 4 under the line with the waste part projecting outward and press this part down until it snaps. Slice through the back paper and use a saber saw to cut notches, curves or openings. All cuts should be measured to allow 1\8 inch clearance since forcing a sheet will cause it to crumble. When doing the wall you will need to start in a corner supporting the sheet snugly against the ceiling. Drive two nails into the studs under the lower edge and continue putting up the other sheets. You will need to fill in any gap that is 1\4 inch or wider with joint compound. When taping a joint begin by spreading a layer of joint compound and pressing a pre-cut full length piece of tape onto the compound. Spread it with a knife by holding the knife at a low angel for spreading and almost perpendicular for smoothing. Wait for 24 hours and then apply another coat that is 10 to 12 inches wide. Feather the edges to smooth the surface. Wait another day and then slightly water down some of the compound and put on another coat. When you reach the corners crease the tape lengthwise before pressing it in and use a corner tool to apply and smooth. Corners that project out should have the compound applied and a protective metal beading should be pressed on. Be sure you nail this in before finishing the joint. It is also best to fill in and smooth the depressions left by nails. This will give your wall a smoother and more even appearance. When you are finished, wipe the dried compound smooth with a clean, damp sponge or sand it thoroughly with fine sandpaper.