Helping to Keep the Peace with Drywall – On the House

Helping to Keep the Peace with Drywall

By on February 1, 2016

Privacy: It’s a condition that’s becoming rarer around many homes. Sometimes the disturbing noise comes from your teenager’s stereo in the next bedroom. Other times the noise comes from the teenager’s stereo in the bedroom in the home that is attached to yours by a wall, ceiling, or floor.

In the days when the interior walls of most homes were constructed of large studs, covered with wood lath and several layers of plaster, noise was less of an issue. Walls and floors prevent sound waves from moving from room to room. However, the interior walls in most modern homes consist of nothing more than a two by four stud (the 4-inch side actually measures 31/2 inches) covered with one layer of 1/2 inch drywall on either side.

Controlling noise between floors can be a daunting task. The worst condition of all has to be a two-story home or downstairs flat wherein you are painfully able to monitor each and every move above. The most effective solution to this problem is to increase the density of the material between floors. One of the simplest ways to do this is with a thicker carpet and pad upstairs.

If you’ve tried the thick carpet and pad trick, your best bet is to install a resilient channel (RC) along with a layer of 5/8-inch drywall onto the ceiling downstairs. RC is a Z-shaped metal channel that is acoustically engineered to reduce vibration and, hence, the transfer of noise. It can be attached with drywall screws right over an existing drywall or plaster ceiling. The channel is applied in a direction perpendicular to the ceiling framing and should be screwed into the framing.

Keep in mind that light boxes, heat registers and other ceiling-mounted devices must be extended to align with the new ceiling surface. And, needless to say, the new drywall will need to be finished and painted.

Due to the complexity of this project, you may want to hire a professional drywall contractor. We are hard pressed to think of a task that requires more physical stamina than hanging those monstrous sheets of wallboard overhead. In this case, we suggest that you use your head instead of your back and call a professional.

The solution for dealing with noise from room to room is similar to the one for floors. Again, the operative word is density — or thickness of the material separating the spaces. The addition of one layer of 5/8-inch drywall can have a profound impact on noise reduction. Adding a layer to both sides of a wall can make it virtually soundproof.

The new layer of drywall is attached to the framing through the existing wallboard with drywall screws and/or construction adhesive. The drywall must then be finished and painted, paneled, or papered. Again, if you’d rather be sailing, then a drywall contractor can help.

As with the ceiling scenario, electrical outlets, switches, and other mechanical components and finishes will need to be extended. Electrical box extenders are inexpensive and are readily available at the local hardware store or home center. Crown mold, baseboard, and window and door trim may also need to be replaced.

If you decide to perform the work yourself, there are a few tricks that you should know that will make the job go easier.

Essentially, drywall is hung like a puzzle is put together. In most cases, the panels are installed with the long side running horizontally — perpendicular to the wall studs. The ceiling panels are installed perpendicular to the ceiling joist. If the wall or ceiling is framed with proper spacing, (typically 16 inches or 24 inches on center) the end of each panel should align with the center of a stud or joist. Thus, there will be ample bearing for fastening with nails or screws. In addition, joints are also staggered to provide maximum strength and to prevent cracks at joints.

There is a definite method to the madness of hanging drywall. Ceiling material hangs first and wall material follows. The primary reason for this order is to make a super neat corner configuration, which makes the finishing job easier. This order also makes the wall panels cover the entire wall down to the floor, leaving only a small gap — otherwise a larger gap would exist.

Since most homes have 8-foot ceilings, two panels (one above the other) cover the wall from floor to ceiling. What do you do if the ceiling is greater than 8 feet high? Here’s what the pros do: Rather than hanging two full sheets high and adding a partial strip at the bottom, they hang the strip in the center of the wall with one full sheet above and one below. This places the joints at a comfortable working height for fastening and finishing. This technique reduces the need to bend over and thus saves time, money, and back pain.

Hanging the board is as simple as measuring the required length, transferring the measurement to the panel, cutting the panel with a razor knife, and snapping the panel in both directions for a nice, even edge. Special care should be taken to measure for and mark electrical boxes, pipes, and other penetrations that will require cutouts to be made in the panels. These cut-outs can be made using a drywall saw, jigsaw, or router.

There are two primary devices used to fasten drywall to the framing: nails or drywall screws. We prefer drywall screws for a variety of reasons, the foremost of which is damage control. Using a hammer to pound a nail into a wall consisting of aged, dry framing can crack plaster, pop existing drywall nails, and knock tile off nearby walls and ceilings. This chaos can be avoided by simply using drywall screws and an electric screw gun.

In the final analysis, when it comes to drywall, it all boils down to the finish. After all, the finish is the part that everyone sees. The finish is what makes the pieces of the puzzle come together. It is what makes drywall look like a wall. Therefore, don’t take short cuts with the finish. Hiring a pro to tape and finish the job will not only give you professional results. It can make even the poorest installation job look super!

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.


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