It’s project time again, garage enthusiasts! And today we will be talking about preparing to drywall your garage. If you’ve come to this article first, and have questions about why to spruce up your unfinished walls, check out our article on Link to “9 Reasons to Drywall Your Garage”. All the “why’s” are covered there.
Now to the “how’s.” Any large project will go better start to finish if it has a road map to follow. So here is the Garage Junkie 7 Things we recommend you do before launching into the land of sheetrock and drywall mud.
Before drywalling your garage, there are some key things you should assess to ensure your job is well-thought out and completed safely. First, determine if you need additional framing to support the drywall. Then assess the electrical wires and outlets that will be hidden behind the drywall. Next, clear out the small spaces, and determine which type of insulation to use. Lastly, ensure that you have the right tools and correct materials to get the job done right.
Before You Drywall Your Garage #1 – Determine if your garage may need additional framing.
If the framing in your garage was done correctly, you may able to skip past this first tip, but it is still something to consider before you drywall your garage. Is there any additional framing that you need to have done before moving to drywall?
Sometimes in unfinished garages, you may need to do some additional framing clean-up work, especially near the ceiling or the corners of the walls. With rough framing, you might need to add some additional studs or blocks to make sure you have something to secure the drywall to. You also might need to add some nail blocks so you have a place to hang lighting from the ceiling or a place to mount a cord reel.
Also, consider an attic entrance. If you plan to drywall the garage ceiling, you will need to have a way to get up into the attic. Blocking out a portion of the ceiling to use as your access will ensure that area is designated and you can install the drywall around it.
Aside from framing small areas, a floorplan remodel might be a thought as well before you drywall. I had a neighbor that had an awesome garage that was probably around 30 feet deep. He used the space as a metal shop, but his wife wanted a laundry room that was separate from the rest of the garage. They compromised by framing in a portion of the garage to make a laundry room, while still leaving some of the extra depth of the garage for his metalworking. Completing this project before the walls were completely finished saved him a ton of money and time as there was nothing to demo and no waste material.
Before You Drywall Your Garage #2 – Assess your electrical.
Better planning will make for an easier project. I will admit, there have been times that I have closed up a wall and then thought, “I wish I had run an outlet here, or I should have fixed this thing over there. . .”
Before you drywall your garage, take the time and envision what you want to space to look like. For example, if you are furnishing the garage to be a shop, make note of where your workbench will be, where your saw will sit, or essentially anything else that will need power. A strategic assessment of where you will need power can help you plan out the electrical ahead of time so you are not dragging an extension cord from one tool to the next.
Here is a list of other common electrical needs your garage may have:
Do you need electrical ran for?
- A garage door opener
- Water heater
- Additional plugs for tools
- Garage Vacuum
- Air Compressor
- Light switches
- Exterior garage lights
- Security camera
Obviously make this area your own, but also consider things that you might want/need later on that oftentimes are way easier to install while the studs in the walls are exposed.
If you think of something later, or you get something new added to the honey-do list that requires access to the studs again, not all is lost. You will just need to patch the walls once the project is done. But if possible, plan ahead.
I will add briefly as well, that if you have existing electrical that has already been run through the exposed walls, now is a good time to have it checked out to ensure that it is up to code. Electrical issues are one of the leading causes of garage fires. Things like ensuring the circuit isn’t overloaded or the wiring is properly grounded can prevent tragedy in the long-run.
Before You Drywall Your Garage #3 – Clear out the corners and small spaces.
One chore that you should perform before you drywall your garage is to clean out the corners and other smalls areas in and around the studs. Exposed walls can collect dust and dirt and create areas for unwanted pests to move in. A wall with open studs is also about as free from obstacles as the area is ever going to get, so it will make quick work of the job with the proper tools like a shop vac and a broom.
One of the reasons you will want this area clean is for installing insulation (which we will discuss in our next point). Clean corners and surfaces will allow for a quicker job insulating the wall and will give you an overall better-insulated barrier. Any debris left in the wall, like splintered wood, stray nails, or chunks of dirt can push on the insulation and create gaps for heat or cold to transfer more rapidly.
The other thing, if you have ever installed drywall before, is there is nothing more infuriating than something getting in the way when you are trying to hold up and place a piece of drywall. If you have debris, especially large pieces that are in and around the stud, do yourself a favor and clean them up before you begin your project. Your future self will thank you.
Also, if you accidentally set your sheet of drywall on a stray piece of debris, you are susceptible to drywall gouges or a part breaking while all the weight is on that one pinpoint. Obviously, drywall mud is very forgiving and can cover a multitude of mistakes and imperfections. But why add additional work if you don’t have to?
Before You Drywall Your Garage #4 – Add Insulation to your walls.
Another important consideration before installing drywall in your garage is adding insulation to the walls. Not only does this upgrade give you a more finished workspace, but it also makes it more useable throughout the year. Insulation takes the edge off the extreme temperatures that can come in the summer or winter, which not only makes garage space more friendly for your cars and workbench projects, but also for anything you might be storing in the off months. Extreme heat and cold can cause damage to heirlooms, wood, and even supplies like extra paint if not stored correctly.
Additionally, if more temperature control is what you need in the future, the walls will also be ready to keep the cool or heat in if you want to install an HVAC unit.
When it comes to insulation, there are several types on the market. For cost-effectiveness, you will generally be looking at a builder-grade roll of fiberglass insulation for the walls and either batts or cellulose for the ceiling. Mineral wool is another insulation material to consider if you are looking for a measure of soundproofing, or for something more mold and mildew resistant. For options with higher R-value, or to transform areas like your attic into additional storage space, you might want to consider spray foam insulation.
Our new property has spray foam insulation for the ceilings over the house. After living at the house for over a year, and having a couple of occasions where I needed to get up in the attic, I would highly recommend spray foam insulation.
Adding insulation to the rafters makes the attic temperature much less intense and is easier to work in. It also makes it so you are not having the dive in and sift through insulation when you are looking for a specific junction box or if you are needing to drop another electrical line.
For more information, check out our article “How to Install Garage Ceiling Insulation.”
Before You Drywall Your Garage #5 – Ensure you have the right tools for the job.
There are several tools that you will need before you drywall your garage. The professionals that do this for a living have some amazing machinery that helps make the job quicker, but we will not be discussing tools of that caliber. Instead, we will be diving into the more economical tool options for drywalling your garage.
You will need a drywall knife to apply the drywall mud – normally a large one that can span between the seams and help keep a flat surface. I would also suggest grabbing a smaller drywall knife so you can get into the harder to fit areas and to help keep the drywall mud on the blade of the larger knife. While working, it can be hard to contend with mud creeping up higher on the blade. This will help lessen the waste and will keep you as efficient as possible when spreading drywall mud on the wall.
You will also need a sanding block to smooth the mud once everything has had sufficient time to dry. There are normally three grits when it comes to drywall sanding blocks. The coarse ones will remove more material when sanding, but it is not what you would want to finish with. If you tried to paint over the drywall once it was sanded solely with a coarse sanding block, you would see the scratch lines made while sanding.
In most cases, a single block that has a medium and fine side will be all the job requires. As long as not too much mud was applied, and the drywall surface is flat, you should not have a ton of sanding required to complete the job. If this is your first time and you see mud caked in places, grab that coarse block and get after it, it is not the end of the world.
When it comes to cutting drywall for your garage, you have several options. For long straight cuts, a utility knife is by far my favorite. For cutting holes for outlets, plumbing, and other things that extend out from the studs in your garage, you could use a drywall saw to get the job done. Over the years of installing drywall, an oscillating saw has become my new favorite way to cut holes into drywall, but if you do not own one, grab a drywall saw and call it a day.
For hanging drywall, I would say a power drill is nearly a necessity. If it is corded, that is alright. I would suggest a cordless if possible. If you are hanging the drywall by yourself, I would suggest putting a little money into a magnetized bit so you do not have to mess with your screw falling from the drill while you are trying to hold up a sheet of drywall.
Lastly, for safety, we suggest you invest in some protective eye goggles and a dust mask. Especially during the sanding process, as dust can and, in most cases, will get everywhere.
Before You Drywall Your Garage #6 – Purchase the right materials for the job
One of the most important things you can do before you drywall your garage is to make sure you purchase the correct material. We highly suggest that you research what is considered code for your local area. In every area I am aware of, you will more than likely be required to use a fire-resistant drywall material.
The other thing that you will need to keep in mind is the required thickness that the fire-resistant drywall will need to be in the garage. It is safe to assume that when you go to your local big-box store, they will sell the proper drywall required for your local area.
Now that we have discussed the needed drywall, let’s talk about the other materials would require to get the job done. Would will need joint compound (mud) and drywall tape to fill in the seams. You will need screws to screw in the drywall and suspend it on the walls and ceiling.
Before You Drywall Your Garage #7 – Take pictures
My grandpa taught me this trick. Once you have cleaned up the space and ran your electrical lines, but before you start any construction work, take pictures of the area. Take pictures of stud placement, the header, and footer of the wall space. Where is the electrical in the wall? Do the trusses line up and have the same spacing as the wall studs? This information will be invaluable later.
When our house was being constructed, once the walls were up and the electrical and plumbing was in, I came over to the construction site and took pictures and video of how the house was put together.
With installing storage, shelving, and mounting tools in the garage, I have referred back to those pictures on several occasions. Having those images has been a God-send because it made installing an attic entrance and installing our garage shelving 10x easier.
A Job Well-Done Will Have Excellent Results
Putting up drywall is no small task. Fire-rated drywall in particular is heavy and will take some muscle to maneuver and install. But whether it’s you and a buddy playing weekend warrior, or a team of workers transforming your garage, the time and effort will pay off in the end. Being well-prepared for the task will ensure that the project is completed without too many delays, and without rework on the back end.