On this page:
- What Should I Expect From a Drywall Estimate?
- Should I Hire a Pro to Install Drywall?
- What Affects the Cost of Drywall Installation?
- How Will My Project Add Up?
- Preparing for a Drywall Installation
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
- Find a Pro
Drywall, also known as sheetrock, is the modern alternative to plaster and is the most commonly used interior wall covering today. The paper-backed gypsum sheets are fastened directly to wall studs and provide the perfect base for any wall finish, whether texture, paint, or wallpaper. Installing or hanging drywall is a reasonable job for most handy homeowners, though pros can typically get the job done in a fraction of the time and with a high-quality finished product. If you want to hire your drywall installation out to a pro, there are several details that could affect the cost to install drywall.
What Should I Expect From a Drywall Estimate?
How Drywall Installation is Priced
The installation and finishing of drywall is typically priced by the square foot of wall or ceiling area to be covered, though some pros may present their price by the sheet. Although the square footage of a room or home can be helpful in estimating the requirements, contractors will measure each surface to cover when the time comes to calculate the materials needed for the job and to estimate the time involved.
Unlike other types of projects, pros will not usually subtract the space taken up by doors and windows, since the best installation method for drywall calls for the fewest cuts and seams possible. So while there may be a proportionately higher amount of waste on a drywall job, it is usually balanced by lower time and material requirements for the finishing process.
What the Bid Includes
There are two phases of a drywall installation: hanging and finishing (or taping). The hanging phase includes the installation of drywall sheets on wall and ceiling surfaces, while the finishing phase includes bedding, taping, and “mudding” joints, corners, and screws, as well as sanding and applying texture when applicable.
Drywall installation does not typically include the removal of old plaster or wallboard or the application of primer or paint. The two phases may be quoted and completed by the same contractor, or may be divided between specialists. If you prefer to do one part of the job yourself, be sure to specify which aspect of the work you want contractors to include in their estimates.
You may find that drywall contractors don’t care to tape out drywall that someone else has installed, so will prefer to bid the whole job or may limit their warranty on workmanship. A handyman, remodeling contractor, or painter may be more flexible and take on just the installation, taping, or texture work.
What Materials are Involved?
There are only a few materials required for a drywall installation, but what is required for your project may depend on the scope of the job and the features of the site. For the hanging phase, drywall sheets and screws are generally all that is needed, while the finishing will require seam tape, corner bead, and joint compound. The types of each material may vary with the features of the job, so the price of supplies may be affected by the type and location of the room. For example, using moisture and mold-resistant drywall in a bathroom or basement or taping a firewall in a garage or multi-unit building could be more expensive than hanging and finishing drywall in standard rooms of the same size.
Should I Hire a Pro to Install Drywall?
Difficulty and Skill
Hanging drywall sheets is a pretty labor-intensive job and it calls for a few specialized tools you may not have on hand, such as a screw gun or drywall lift. If you have someone to help you out and can rent the tools, you can probably save a considerable amount on the cost of labor—as much as 50 percent of a professional job. However, if strenuous and dusty work isn’t really your cup of tea, a professional installer who is fully equipped for the work can spare you a sore back and a trip to the rental center.
There really is a knack to getting a flawless finish with tape and joint compound, and hiring a pro is definitely the best way to ensure you get the finished product you are looking for. If you want to save on the cost of labor by hiring out only one phase of the job, this is the one to splurge on; a talented taper can compensate for an amateur drywall hanger any day of the week. For those who do opt to tackle this part of the work, practicing your technique on some drywall scraps before working on your new walls and ceiling can help you get better results.
The physical demands and learning curve involved in completing a drywall installation can make for slow progress for a beginner, but a seasoned pro can make the work look like child’s play and get the job done in record time. If time is of the essence, hiring an expert is a sure way to make sure the job is done on schedule. This can be essential on a construction or remodeling project that involves several subcontractors who are dependent on one another to stick to a timeline.
What Affects the Cost of Drywall Installation?
Who Is Running the Show?
The most significant variable in the cost of most drywall installations is labor, so if you are installing and finishing your own drywall, you could spend $0.30 to $0.70 per square foot on materials and a $100 or so on tools and rentals, compared to $1.00 to $2.00 or more per square foot to have a pro handle the whole job.
If you do hire out the job, the type of pro you hire could be a factor in the price as well. It could cost 10 to 15 percent more to hire a general contractor than a drywall contractor, but that is often a worthy investment if the installation is part of a larger remodeling or construction project that requires a lot of coordination. On the other hand, hiring a handyman or even a painting contractor with the correct range of skills could be more cost-effective for small jobs.
The Scale of the Job
The overall size of a job is an important factor to a contractor when estimating the price of a drywall installation, especially when taping and mudding is included. The finishing phase of the job generally spans several days to allow drying time for joint compound, so no matter how small the project, a contractor must make several return trips to the site to complete the work. Due to the overhead involved, the labor price per square foot often goes down as the size of the job goes up, since a pro can keep his crew at one site longer than when moving around to smaller jobs.
How Will My Drywall Installation Project Add Up?
The Nature of the Job
As with many aspects of construction, drywall is easier to install in a new construction or gut and remodel setting than in a single room or partial remodel. Factors like ease of access, the space required for staging large sheets of drywall, and the masking involved in protecting finished surfaces and spaces from joint compound and sanding dust all contribute to the difficulty of the job. If your site has limited space or is difficult to access, the job could take longer and cost more than at a site with few restrictions.
The Features of the Site
The complexity and details of the surfaces involved in your project can affect the cost of installation. As the number of corners, angles, obstacles, and openings increases, the difficulty of the job, and thus the cost of labor, increases as well. If your project includes multiple rooms, high, slanted ceilings, dormers, multiple closets, window returns, and odd angles, a professional installation will likely cost more per square foot than in an open floor plan or a single rectangular room with eight foot high walls and a flat ceiling that will be trimmed in wood later.
The Scope of the Project
The amount of work you need a pro to do will help determine the base labor rate for your project. If you plan to have a contractor provide materials, installation, and finishing, you could pay between $35 and $70 per sheet or about $0.80 to $1.50 per square foot for the whole job. If you only need a pro for one phase of the project, labor alone could cost between $0.20 and $0.40 per square foot for hanging and $0.40 to $0.90 for taping and finishing. It is typically more efficient and cost effective to hire a single provider for the whole job (unless you are doing the remainder of the work yourself), but the specific features of the job will influence the cost of labor for any provider.
Preparing for a Drywall Installation
Be sure to request estimates from multiple providers, making sure each pro references the same materials and scope of work. If your project is complex or involves more than just a couple of rooms, you’ll probably get the best price by dealing directly with a drywall contractor. On the other hand, if your job is on the small side, you may do better with a handyman or a general or remodeling contractor—especially if the drywall installation is part of a larger renovation project. No matter who provides estimates though, be sure to compare them on an equal basis; if some estimates are presented by the sheet, rather than by the square foot, be sure you know what size sheet is being priced so you can do the math and compare to prices that are presented by the square foot.
Even if you don’t want to take on any of the heavy or skilled work, you may be able to simplify the job for the pros to help keep costs down. For starters, make sure demo work is done, if necessary, and the area is prepped and cleared so the crew can get right to work. Be sure to provide a place to store drywall sheets, and remember that the closer it is to the work site, the faster the work will go. Also, keep the area clear and accessible until the final coat of mud is dry and sanded. Workers will need to make a few trips to get the job done, so minimizing the amount of stuff they need to move or cover each time will help them get in and out quickly.
|$200 - $500||$1,100 - $2,200||$7,000 - $11,000|
Installation methods are consistent for most drywall applications, but the nature, size, and scope of the job can have a big impact on the bottom line. Each project is unique, and the cost of labor varies by location and provider, but our examples may help you see how your project will measure up.
DIY Update: $200 - $500
- • The Site: A renovation of a single 12’x14’ room keeps this project small and manageable for most do-it-yourselfers. Taking it on yourself saves up to $600 in labor expenses.
- • Scope of the Job: This job is limited to the walls, and leaving the ceiling off the to-do list simplifies the work considerably, though it still includes hanging the drywall as well as taping and mudding. Renting a drywall lift and screw gun and buying the drywall knives needed for the job adds up to $200 to the bottom line.
- • Accessibility: Since this is a single room inside a finished home, staging materials and navigating the work site can be a little tricky. However, since this is a DIY job, the time it adds to the project doesn’t increase costs.
Adding On: $1,100 - $3,200
- • The Site: A 20’x20’ addition requires drywall on both the walls and the ceiling, which is a standard 8’ high. A pro can make quick work of a job like this, since there is plenty of space to move around and nothing in the way.
- • Scope of the Job: The total area of 1,040 square feet of drywall must be hung as well as taped, mudded, and textured. A small crew will probably hang the sheets and apply the tape and first coat of mud in a single day, but will return at least twice to finish the job.
- • Accessibility: Though the installation site is new construction, if access to deliver more than twenty sheets of drywall is limited to walking through the main house, the added setup time could add an hour’s worth of labor time to the job.
Whole House Update: $7,000 - $11,000
- • The Site: A complete gut and remodel of a 2,000-square-foot house requires new drywall on all walls and ceilings in a home with six rooms on each of two levels.
- • Scope of the Job: A total surface area of about 7,500 square feet (or 156 4’x12’ sheets) must be covered, including hanging drywall, taping, and mudding. A complete job like this commonly runs from $25 to $35 per sheet for labor and $20 to $25 for material.
- • Accessibility: Since the entire house is gutted for renovations, access and staging are simplified, making the work more efficient for the crew.
Level of Difficulty
Hanging and finishing drywall requires an intermediate to advanced level of skill, along with a fair amount of muscle and a few specialized tools that really simplify the job. It is a reasonable project for most homeowners, but large scale installations can be overwhelming and time consuming for those new to the process.
Drywall Installation Contractors
If you have decided to hire out all or part of your drywall installation job, get in touch with local Drywall Installation Contractors for estimates on the job. Each independent contractor in our network has been background checked and verified, so some of the legwork needed to find a qualified expert has already been done for you. Just review the profiles of local Pros and choose an expert in the field to get the job done.