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Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have Walls!

What’s a laundry room without walls, right? Well… I guess what is any room without walls really? Point being – our new 8′ by 7′ laundry room now has them. Or the beginnings of them at least. Yup, drywall is hung! And we did it ourselves. Well, with the help of a robot-like contraption, but more on that in a second.

As you saw in our last post, I picked up the drywall along with my other big supplies when I rented the $19 Home Depot truck. I got fourteen 4 x 8′ sheets of UltraLight Sheetrock since the whole “ultra light” thing sounded helpful and it was well-reviewed.

I’d say the lightweight thing was a bit of an over-promise. It’s lighter than traditional stuff, but still not something you want to lug around all day. And certainly not something you can hold in place with one hand while the other screws it into the wall. So I rented this drywall lift from Home Depot to help with the job. It was $40 for 24 hours and the pieces easily fit in our car.

It was a lifesaver (and backsaver). We could basically place our drywall piece on it (once it was cut to size) and then crank it up into place with the spin of a wheel.

Then with the lift holding it in place, I was free to screw it into the joists without having to worry about my arms getting tired (or worrying that I was taking too long for my human helper – remember I dabbled in drywalling when we gutted our first house’s bathroom and opened up the kitchen to the dining room in our last house).

But back to screwing in the drywall – I used coarse-thread drywall screws (2″ on the ceiling, 1 5/8″ on the walls) and a special drywall setting drill bit, which makes sure the head of the screw gets counter-sunk into the drywall. In hindsight I kinda wish I had splurged on a drywall screw gun because this step would have gone a lot faster.

The hanging process wasn’t really all that complicated – cut it to fit the pre-measured area, carry it upstairs, use the lift to get it into place, and screw it in. Even the cutting was pretty straightforward. Once I measured the size of sheet needed, I marked my cut with a chalk line and then used a straight edge (not pictured, I just realized) to score the line with my utility knife. Once you’re through the top layer of paper, you can run your knife along that ridge again without the straight edge, and it’s pretty easy to snap the piece along your line. Then you just have to cut the back layer of paper.

The part that we didn’t photograph – which was actually the most exhausting part of the project – was carrying each piece from the garage to the laundry room. Again, they weren’t exactly “ultra light” and navigating nearly 4 x 8′ pieces up our stairs wasn’t always easy. Sherry was a huge help when it came to getting the larger pieces up (they were awkward to carry alone, and after denting the wall at the top of the stairs we officially dubbed it a two-person job).

As for cutting around various obstacles like light switches, vents, etc, I relied on a variety of tricks to ensure perfect hole placement. For the ceiling light fixture I dabbed some spare paint on the edge…

…then I pressed the sheet to the ceiling with the lift to transfer some of the paint to the drywall.

Then I could cut a perfectly placed hole.

I used the same trick to mark the HVAC vent hole too, as you can see below.

The lift also pivots to help you hang pieces on the wall. The room ended up being nearly 8′ deep and 7′ wide,  so each wall required just two sheets of 8′ drywall that were cut a little shorter length-wise.

Navigating the obstacles on the back wall were pretty easy because Sherry or I could just step behind it and mark where things would intersect the drywall.

For all the non-round holes, we used the drywall / keyhole / jab saw to cut out the appropriate sized holes. Whenever possible, we liked to cut from the front of the drywall because it kept the hole a bit cleaner on the inside.

As straightforward as the process was, it still took quite a bit of time. Between measuring & marking things, making our cuts, hauling things upstairs, using the lift to get them into place, cutting around additional obstructions, and screwing the drywall into place – I think we averaged about one board every 45 minutes. Not a record-breaking pace by any means, but we were pausing to take photos and Teddy was awake. Our only real time-related goal was to get all the upper boards done before our day-long rental of the lift was over (otherwise we’d be out another $40). The drywall gods must have smiled down on us, because we met that goal.

Once we got around to the pieces in front of the doorways, we chose to hang them over the door opening and then I could cut out whatever I needed once everything was screwed into place. This was a pretty foolproof way of doing it, but I think had I bought a spiral saw it would’ve been significantly faster.

Especially since we had four doorway holes to cut (two doors with two sides each). And after leaning up this outside piece to the laundry door, I realized I’d need to cut a small access hole so I could get behind it and follow the door frame with my saw. I felt like I was in a Roadrunner cartoon or something.

Eventually I got all 14 pieces in place (10 in the room, 2 in the hall, 2 in the storage room vestibule) and the space was really starting to take shape.

In the vestibule area I actually replaced the ceiling piece too, since we terminated the old HVAC vent that was there. I figured it was easier to put up a new solid piece than patch a large round vent hole (don’t mind our big plastic drop cloth door that’s so elegantly hung at the moment).

I did have to install a little bit of insulation as I went (just on a couple of interior walls that were missing some) but I still need to add the rest around the outside of the room, so I’ll detail that step for you guys in the next post along with our mudding and taping progress and a budget breakdown so far (assuming we can get all our receipts together and add things up by then).

As a reminder, here’s where things were last week. Three cheers for progress.

The inside of the laundry room isn’t looking very exciting. And I’m learning that it’s a bit hard to photograph. You can see that our drywall hanging isn’t perfect (I had a slightly angled cut up in that top corner) but we’re still proud to have completed the task on our own. As many of you mentioned, the hanging part is a lot easier than the art of mudding and taping, so we tried to buoy our spirits with that info as we inched along.

Speaking of mudding and taping, we’ve officially started in on that, and it’s definitely the more challenging part of this process. My fingers are crossed that we’ll have an update for you later this week, because after that we’re onto the fun stuff – like tiling the floor, adding trim, and bringing the washer & dryer back in.