We are back with professional contractor Joe Bianco as he walks us through the process of remodeling a basement. Just like our latest series for building a deck, these Pro-Follows will (eventually) wrap up with an all-encompasing guide. It’ll be a great resource for anyone looking to finish their basement. So far we’ve covered:
Today’s update focuses on hanging drywall as two separate subcontractors work to get everything ready for painting next week.
Step 6a: Hanging Drywall
Joe had arranged for all the materials to be delivered the day before, and they decided on 4 x 12′, 1/2″ sheets of drywall. To get everything into the basement, they actually needed to cut a hole in the first floor because there wasn’t enough clearance to carry the extra-long sheets of drywall down the stairs. A two man crew arrived the next day to hang all of the drywall in the basement. I was surprised it was only two guys, and they didn’t unload very many tools. However, if I ever doubted their ability, it was quickly dispelled as these guys worked fast and efficiently.
Pro-Tip: Using 12′ sheets of drywall (rather than 8′ or 10′) results in fewer joints to be taped and concealed with joint compound.
They started with the ceiling, putting down a bead of Liquid Nails on the joists. Next, they would move the drywall in place, and each guy would support the drywall with one hand while driving fasteners with the other hand. The first guy used a screw gun while the second guy used a hammer and nails.
Pro-Tip: Screw guns allow you to quickly drive screws with a consistent countersink depth. They are extremely useful for hanging drywall because you can work fast and avoid over-driving the screws.
Each piece hit the joist (or stud) at the center, and they made sure to stagger the joints.
The sprinkler heads protruded below the ceiling so they needed to measure and pre-cut holes.
They used a drywall circle cutter to score the surface before knocking the circle out with a hammer. I was really impressed with how precise they were with all their measurements.
They did the same for the smoke detector boxes.
I had expected them to make all the necessary cutouts before hanging each piece of drywall, but often they secured the drywall then used a rotary cutting tool called a Roto-Zip to cut around ductwork and recessed cans.
To do this, they would plunge the Roto-Zip into the middle of the fixture, find the edge and move to the outside perimeter. Then, they would just trace the shape. This is also how they cutout light switch, cable and receptacle boxes.
In this way they completed the ceiling and moved on to the walls, again working from the top of the wall down to the base.
These pictures also show that often they would put up a large section only to cut out the opening for a door afterward.
When they did pre-cut the drywall, they often used a combination of a utility knife, drywall knife and straightedge (like the drywall square pictured below). To cut the drywall, they usually pressed the square tight with a foot and scored the surface with a utility knife. Next, they would apply some pressure and fold the drywall along the cut. Lastly, they would use the utility knife to complete the cut on the opposite side.
A pocket plane, which works much like a cheese grater, is another useful tool for cleaning up a cut edge or shaving off a small amount of material.
They also used this handy, foot wedge to push the drywall at least 1/4″ up off the ground. This is important so that the drywall doesn’t come in contact with the moisture from the concrete.
Step 6b: Nail Corner bead
All of the outside corners get this metal channel called corner bead to protect and even out irregularities.
Aviation snips are great for making clean cuts through corner bead.
For long, continuous runs the corner bead overlaps, and the crew mitered all the corners.
Step 6c: Taping and Joint Compound
Unfortunately, I was not present for most of the taping and mudding. I do know that the “finishers” made three separate visits to apply compound, allow it to dry, and sand it down.
Drywall tape is used to bridge small gaps and increase joint strength.
Depending on conditions, joint compound can take several days to fully dry.
Here’s how the joints looked after the first application. You can see they filled all the nail and screw holes, covered all the corner bead and taped all the drywall joints and inside corners. The only thing the finishers didn’t need to worry about were the door frames because they’ll be covered with trim.
The finishers have taped each joint and inside corner and applied joint compound, feathering it to ensure a smooth appearance. Here’s how everything looked after the last visit.
That’s it for this update. Joe expects to have painters in sometime this week, and we’ll hopefully get to installing radiant heat flooring soon after that. We will also be putting together a drywall patching tutorial in the next few days so stick with us!