Drywalling is the moment when a house is being built that the space becomes defined. 

Framing out the stud walls is like a pencil sketch of the rooms.  Dry wall turns it into three-dimensional, enclosed, compartments.  At that moment you find out what your rooms are going to feel like.

And in Underhill House, with its non-rectangular spaces, adding the smooth, white and gray planes of sheet rock has been a dramatic addition.

Dry wall made of a paper liner wrapped around a thin slab of gypsum plaster, as a replacement for lath and plaster, has been around since the 1880s.  We are going to use plaster on all the inside of the outside walls, but we are going with the labor-saving option for the walls that define rooms.

You don’t have to be that skilled to put up a few pieces of drywall. Many of us have had a go at hanging dry wall in home improvement projects.  Doug and I have done our share, and learned how to shape it by slicing through the paper on one side with a razor knife and snapping wonderfully straight breaks.

But as I watched Sanchez Drywall’s team cover all the wildly irregularly edged surfaces of Underhill House in two days, I was dazzled.  The knifes, saws, tape measures, screw guns and routers were like extensions of their arms, and the way they whipped those big bulky pieces into place and set them was almost like ballet.

I have learned that up to 17% of drywall is wasted during the manufacturing and installation process.  Sometimes it can be recycled, but mostly it is landfilled.  Watching the Sanchez crew work, I suspect they were using just about every bit of each piece they could.  They were extremely efficient and left very little lying on the floor.

They have to be not only skillful and fast, but very strong.  A drywaller hoists and places about 2 tons of drywall every day.

That takes a toll on joints and tendons. 

I was really glad to see that our builder was using Sheetrock UltraLight panels that came on the market in August 2010.  This stuff, according to their website  is up to 30% lighter and stronger, pound for pound.

Pat Carrasco, a drywall hanger, who lives in Montana, says:

1. Emerging ergonomic standards—the state of Washington is working toward implementing ergonomic rules that will affect the drywall trade. It will be a long time before the entire industry feels this impact, but the writing is on the wall: The weight carried by one man needs to be lowered.

2. Work force longevity—Lighter board will bring about a longer productive life for those who hang drywall.

3. Production—We can hang more footage with lighter board.

4. And of course, let’s not forget about the trucks.


Yes.  Let’s not forget about the trucks.  The less weight they haul, the less gas they burn.

So that’s win/win.  The lighter drywall is easier on those who hang it, and it takes less gas to haul it to the site.

I’m loving the drywall stage of our building.

3 replies

  1. I was wondering what you would do at this stage. I was wondering whether there was any alternative, but couldn’t really think of anything. I feel I can stop trying to think of alternatives now and just go with the dry wall for that part of our project. Much simpler considering that we have dry wall readily available.

  2. Hi Joanna,
    The lighter drywall was the only thing we could think of. Because the square footage is pretty small, we wanted to make the interior walls as thin as possible. And because there is so much labor tied up in the foundation and the exterior and interior plastering outside perimeter wall, we had to go for quick and dirty drywall. It is very quick. And not so very dirty when the pros go at it.
    Last night was our first night in the drywalled house in moonlight.
    What is there about moonlight that spurs creativity so? We were brainstorming like crazy about the many little questions that arise as the house comes together.

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