Hanging Drywall

(or, "How to nearly kill your wife")

(home) (door opening) ( jack hammer 1) (jack hammer 2) (pouring 1) (pouring 2) (outside wall) (ceiling)

The first step in putting up the new ceiling was to insulate. I went to Lowe's with the goal of buying 6" faced R19 or better insulation in 15" wide rolls. Of course, Lowe's doesn't carry that. I can get unfaced, I can get 24" wide, I can get R13 3.5", etc. but I can't get what I wanted originally. Thwarted again.

So I decided there's no kill like overkill... I used R13 3.5" faced (i.e. regular 2x4 wall insulation) stapled to the rafters, and rolled out some 6" R19 unfaced insulation over the top of that, perpendicular to the rafters. Hopefully the new R factor is computed via multiplication, so we've now got R247. But, even if its done another way, its still insulated "pretty darn well".

With the insulation up (which took about ten man hours or so over a couple days), it was on to sheet rock. We're using 5/8 sheetrock for both ceiling and walls, since apparently that's what code usually specifies for a fire rated wall/ceiling. Back in the day when I was doing rough carpentry in the summer we'd put up drywall ceilings with two people, a couple ladders, and some strained muscles here and there.

It turns out there's an easier way, and its called a "drywall lift".

Whoever created this device deserves a raise. (get it? A "raise"? I kill myself... :-)

Anyway, the plan was to rent a drywall lift, get some 5/8" sheetrock (18 sheets it turns out), and go to town.

I can already hear what you're saying... "What? _Rent_ a drywall lift? What are you, some kinda freak who's afraid of owning your own tools?"

Sadly, I miscalculated on the drywall lift. See, I thought it stayed in the form you see in that picture there. And then I thought "where the heck am I going to store a drywall lift for who knows how many years until I build the Garage Mahal?". What I _didn't_ know was that the lift comes apart/folds into four or five fairly small pieces, and it would have easily stored in the basement or attic or whatever.

So, armed with my misinformation, I actually told Laura that I could either rent one for $35/day or buy one for around $200. Not surprisingly, she thought renting one made more sense. I know, this was a rookie mistake.

Anyway, water under the bridge. So drywall day comes last weekend (April 14th). I head up to Lowe's and buy 18 sheets of 5/8" drywall. Its totally overcast and the radar map shows a bunch of green. Our truck has a wussy shortbed that's 6.5' long. Drywall is 8' long. On the way home, it starts to sprinkle, just a little bit.

So I get home, 18 sheets of drywall in the bed of the truck sticking out a foot and a half into the breeze, rain at any moment, and it all needs to get into the garage.

Women, it turns out, aren't as strong as men (on average, yada yada, complain about how un-PC I am to someone that will listen). Its even worse when you grab the top sheet of sheetrock, realize that its still attached to the next sheet, and think to yourself "Eh, we'll just do two sheets this trip and see how she does".

What she does is very nearly go straight to the ground when the weight hits.

I'd like to point out here that I was worried about BOTH my wife and the corners of the sheetrock, not just the sheetrock itself. I'm a sensitive, modern, and caring man.

Anyway, Laura gritted her teeth, ignored her boob getting squished like she was having a mamogram and her elbow that was coming out of socket, and proceeded to not move at all toward the door of the garage.

Yes, you read that right.

Here's a good time for a sidebar. It turns out that Laura and I think about things like this in a different manner. I would grab my end of the sheet, wait until the other guy grabbed the other end, and then we'd carry it inside. That's my entire process. "Grab", followed by "Carry it inside". I don't even think about the interim steps you need to do along the way like figure out who's leading/walking backwards, how we'll thread around the porch posts, etc. I _had_ thought about where we were going to put the drywall once we had it inside, and had even setup a little area where it would go. I even showed Laura how to lift up the sheets. I thought I was doing good.

To Laura, on the other hand, there were a lot more steps in the process and she wasn't sure how I wanted her to do it. And, since I'm wonderfully supportive and say things like "No, you idiot, not like that!" when she does something I wasn't expecting, she's learned to stop and wait for instructions when she isn't sure what I'm wanting her to do.

I suppose that does indeed make me the jerk of the outfit...

Anyway, the problem with _that_ is that stopping at this point meant we were both standing there, each holding up approximately one billion pounds of drywall, and I was watching her slowly sinking under the weight. I, ever the calm one, waited for her to get moving (her leading, me leading, I don't care, just start going). After I waited about half a second I helpfully said something like "ok, let's go". She said something like "how do you want to do this?" and I replied "JUST CARRY THE [not safe for nephews] THING INSIDE!"

Note to other guys in this situation. It _did_ work. She started for the door with the sheetrock and we soon had it inside. However, this is still probably not the recommended approach.

Anyway, we got the two pieces inside and set them down. Laura only pulled her elbow and shoulder out a little bit. We calmly decided that we could stand to communicate more effectively (and when I say "we", all you guys know what I mean...), and we then proceeded to carry in the rest of the drywall, just beating the rain.

We did, however, do the rest of it one piece at a time. :-)

After dinner, I started hanging the sheetrock. Once again, the drywall lift man is "The Man". After about five hours I had a third of the ceiling done (that sounds better than saying I had six sheets up...). The hardest part of the deal physically was lifting the sheetrock onto the lift. Here's a few pictures.

By the way, the screwgun I'm using there isn't just a regular drill, its a drywall screwgun. They look like this:

These are also an amazing invention. It turns out the drywall lift guy had a brother and they were installing drywall one day using the new lift and the brother asked the lift inventer guy "Hey, now that we can hold this sheet up here in place, how about making it so that I don't have to worry about how far the screw is going in?"

Ok, fine, I made that up.

Anyway, the black bit in the picture there is an adjustable stop. You twist what sorta looks like the chunk one way or the other to extend or retract the stop, and then you just wind on the screw until you hear the "WRRRRP" of the phillips bit skipping on the screw head. If the screw is too deep, extend the stop and if its not deep enough, retract it a little. There's also a clutch, so when press the trigger the bit doesn't turn until you press the screw into the drywall a bit. Cool people just lock the gun on and bang in the screws fast as heck.

I'm not that cool.

Anyway, Harbor Freight had crappy chinese versions of these babies on sale for $30. Regularly they're $40. I had my Dad's Milwaukee screw gun already (that cost him $100+) but I figured if it worked out that both Laura and I were able to work on the drywall together (see also "If Dominic was sleeping"), I'd want two guns.

Plus, hey $30 for a drywall gun!

I ended up using the HF drywall gun for the entire ceiling, btw... Never missed a beat. It doesn't seem as durable in construction as the Milwaukee gun, particularly in the depth adjustment area since its just plastic on plastic threads for the adjustment, but for $30 it seems pretty darn good to me.

Getting back to our story, at the end of the night I had six pieces up out of 18, and the drywall lift needed to be back at the rental place tomorrow by 5pm.

Needing to return rental equipment must be a powerful motivator. The next day I was _out in the garage and working_ at 8am. After having already showered and eaten breakfast. Really.

Everything went quite well. I didn't miscut a single piece until the very last one, and even that was just screwing up which joint got the factory edge. If you come over to the garage and notice that, I'll just pop you one on the nose, so no harm done.

So, that's it! Ceiling is up, drywall lift is back at the tool rental place, and the garage door is next!

(Use the back button to return)