Livin’ on the (Factory) Edge

Installing drywall this week, I now understand why there are professionals specifically for installing drywall. It’s darn hard to get it right. Mark and I do the best we can, and then we reluctantly accept Bob’s usual consolation: imperfections are OK in a rustic house.

Sheetrock, gyprock, however you call it… what makes rock so hard? It’s a finish surface – one that gets taped and mudded and painted, but a finish surface nonetheless – and the wall will permanently show any gaps between pieces, or gaps between a piece and a door frame, or mismatched planes, or screw heads not quite buried. That means we have to cut and install the drywall with a precision that’s foreign to framing carpentry, and without the aid of tongue-and-groove connections or spacer clips or anything really.

Drywall screws hold the rock to the studs.

Drywall screws hold the rock to the studs.

In new construction, the drywall’s factory edge provides a certain measure of control. Each sheet of drywall arrives from the factory a perfect rectangle (ours are all 4 feet by 8 feet), and in theory you can get a nice tight fit by aligning the factory edges with the ceiling, the wall corner, or the adjacent sheet. In a remodel like Bob’s house, where nothing about the existing structure is square, that theory goes out the window. Often Mark and I found no convenient place to start, and had to cut off most of the factory edges to attain the angles we needed.

We had some tricky cutouts to handle, too. Professional rockers make their cuts with a slick electric drywall saw that’s about as fast and smooth as a lightsaber. We don’t have an electric drywall saw or the skill to use one properly, so we make full-length cuts with a utility knife and inside cuts with a handheld jab saw. It works fine, but you have to measure first and you get a pretty rough edge. Utility boxes are especially tricky with their protruding nubs for cover attachment.

In preparation for a full-length cut, Mark scores a straight line using a level and a utility knife.

In preparation for a full-length cut, Mark scores a straight line using a level and a utility knife.

But despite our imperfections, we’ve made good progress. The master bedroom-to-closet wall is fully rocked, as are a pair of bathroom walls and part of a wall in the guest room. And I’m kind of getting the hang of working with drywall, though I do wish they made a sloping factory edge at whatever angle I happen to need.

2 thoughts on “Livin’ on the (Factory) Edge

  1. Pingback: Two Hundred Fifty | PERCH ENGINEERING PLC

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