Drywall Tools and Materials You Need to Make Your Walls


No doubt about it – building your own walls is one of the more satisfying DIY renovation jobs you can do. Our guys certainly enjoy it and I bet you’ll enjoy that same feeling of transforming a space from the 2X4 framing to actual rooms; solid structure that makes the space look more like a home.

Content quote: Installing drywall is one of the easier DIY construction jobs

Installing drywall is one of the easier DIY construction jobs to do well, thanks to the few tools needed and the ability to cover up mistakes with more mud and more sanding. You may not want to take on a multi-room renovation yourself, but doing single room or drywalling a wall or two, if you had to repair a leaking roof, shouldn’t be too time-intrusive or difficult to do yourself.


Tools for Drywall Installation

With a few hand tools and some determination, you can get that board and mud on your walls with a smooth even finish. Here are the necessities with a few nice-to-haves for those of you that want to go that extra mile:

  • Drill – ideally cordless and even more ideally a drywall screw gun which sets the screws in at the perfect depth (available for rent at most equipment rental stores)
  • Hammer – you’ll use this to nail on metal corner bead and can come in handy for any stage of a reno
  • Tape measure – you’ll use this to measure the space to determine how much board you’ll need and to measure board and corner bead that needs to be cut to size
  • T-square – used to make a squared straight cut on the board
  • Utility knife – to cut the board
  • Pencil – to mark the board and studs as you’re installing drywall
  • Drywall/taping knife – widths range from 4” up to 12” and 3-5 different widths could be used on a professional job, but you can achieve a good result with a 6” and a 12”
  • Drywall hawk or pan – to hold mud while you’re applying
  • Tin snips – to cut corner bead
  • Drywall saw or rotary saw – you’ll use one of these to cut out electrical boxes and light sockets
  • Hand sander and / or pole sander with appropriate sanding sheets – to smooth out the dried mud

When we’re out at a job we use a variety of other tools and equipment that take some experience to operate successfully or help us get our work done quicker. If you’re not planning to make drywalling a regular activity then these basic tools will get the job done well and not have you investing hundreds of dollars on tools you’ll rarely use.


Materials Needed for Drywall Installation

You’re likely pretty aware of the basic materials like the board and mud but there are a few more little things that you’ll need to properly complete your drywalling project. Here’s a complete list and a few details about what types of materials are available.

Drywall board

Also know as sheetrock, boards are commonly found in lengths of 8’, 10’ and 12’ and different thicknesses for various uses:

  • What you’ll likely use the most of – ½” thick standard board used on interior walls and ceilings
  • What you’ll use for bathrooms and possibly some areas of your kitchen – ½” or 5/8” thick Moisture and Mold Resistant board (also known as green board drywall)
  • What you’ll use as a backing around showers and tubs – ½” moisture-resistant board if you’ll be installing a tub surround;  Schluter® KERDI -BOARD or DensShield® (not really a drywall) if you’ll be installing tile
  • What you’ll use for a fire rated wall (between house and garage, between units/apartments or for added sound barrier) – 5/8” thick Firecode board

This list doesn’t cover all types of board, but gives you the main type of board you’ll need to know about for installing drywall. You’ll do best with just the 4 x 8-foot size for ease of use for its size and weight (1/2” thick board weighs 50 pounds).

Drywall Screws

While you may read and hear of drywall being nailed to the wall, don’t do it. It won’t take long for those nails to pop and ceilings to sag. We’re living in the 21st century where technology has provided us with the superior securing power of screws. We recommend 1 ¼” length.

Drywall Tape

To make your smooth, even wall, you’ll need to join the board with joint tape – either paper tape that needs to be applied with compound or a self-adhesive fiber tape. The self-adhesive joint tape will be much easier to apply and doesn’t need to be ‘worked’ with a trowel to smooth out.

Joint Compound

More casually known as drywall mud, joint compound is what you’ll need to build up your wall between the boards. It’s made from limestone, polymers, emulsifiers and water. You can get a pre-mixed pail or a box of powder that you’ll have to mix with water when you’re ready to apply.

Corner Bead

You have a few different choices for corner bead. Metal and vinyl options are available with rounded and right angle corner styles. We regularly use bullnose vinyl bead that is best installed with a spray adhesive. Metal bead is nailed on.


How to Install Drywall

If you’ve done any amount of reading online or talking with others about drywalling, you’ve likely gotten a few different methods and techniques about installing drywall. Just like many other jobs, there’s more than one way to do it. Our goal with this article is to provide you with information about the tools and materials you’ll need, but we also checked out a few videos to give you a bit of instruction on how to get your walls done.


The following video focusses on how to hang drywall by yourself, but you can also click on over to YouTube to see other helpful tips that will give you the knowledge to get your renovation done right. Lots of great ideas in this one to get the board on the ceiling when you’re working solo and how to cut out electrical boxes.

With just a few tools, material and some helpful instruction you can feel confident completing your renovation yourself. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or give us a call or email. Thanks for visiting!


What you Should Know About Installing Insulation

install insulation properly to have a worm and energy efficient homeYour home renovation may be to add space, repair damage or update your home. Whatever the reason you’ll likely have some exterior walls or the attic that will need some insulation.

We’ve got helpful information for you about what the R-value is all about and how to maintain that rating when you’re installing insulation. Then you’ll learn what the four main types of insulting material are to help you decide what the best choice is for your project.


More About the Insulation R-Value

All insulation materials will have an R-value associated with it, which is generally found on the packaging. The number indicates how well the material resists heat flow – heat leaving your home and heat entering your home. The higher the R-value, the better it will keep heat in (in the cold months) and keep heat out (in the summer months).


While all insulation material has an R-value, the way it is installed can effect the actual insulating properties of the material. The R-value will decrease if you:

  • compress the material under or over wires, beside electrical boxes or other surfaces, or within the studs
  • leave gaps in the stud cavity
  • don’t have a proper air barrier before insulating
  • haven’t sealed all air leaks in the shell of your house

You should be achieving a minimum R50 in the attic, R24 in the above-grade walls, and R20 in basement walls. But don’t hesitate to get better insulation power so you get better energy efficiency. The insulation R-value can be increased by increasing layers of insulation. So just by adding a lower R-value product to existing insulation, you can create a better resistance against heat flow.

Insulation Types and Applications

When it comes to insulation you have a bit of choice in material and application process.

Blown in insulation (or loose fill) can be made of fiberglass, recycled paper fibre (cellulose) or mineral fibre (mineral or rock wool). You can rent a blowing machine to install this type of insulation yourself, but this one is best left to the pros. It’s most commonly installed in attics and other areas that may be hard to move around in. This can also be helpful to fill wall cavities to add to existing insulation when walls are kept in place.

Batt or blanket insulation can come in a variety of materials, but the most popular is fiberglass or rock-wool batts. You’ll get them in bags or large rolls that are sized to fit snugly in 16-in. or 24-in. standard wall stud spaces. This type is pretty easy to install yourself and is adaptable to a variety of surface irregularities. A utility knife and proper personal protection (gloves, dust mask, long-sleeved shirt, etc) are all the tools you’ll needed to install batt insulation.

Check out this video for lots of insulating tips and an installation done by a pro :

Spray-foam insulation is available in a closed-cell or open-cell polyurethane foam. It’s most popular in new builds, but has gained popularity in recent years to re-insulate attics. It is applied directly on the building surface with a pump-driven applicator and expands and sets in seconds. The closed-cell can be used as an air barrier, and can be used as a vapour barrier when applied to a certain thickness. The open-cell can only be used as an air barrier.

Unless you’ve got training and experience hire this one out to a reputable professional. You want to be sure you’re getting the best results and not suffer any spray foam nightmares like the ones shown in this CBC Marketplace show.

You can also get spray foam in cans to fill gaps around doors and windows, which works in a similar fashion to the professional applications.

Rigid board insulation is made from mineral fibre or foam plastic materials. These insulation boards can be used in various ways, but are especially useful on the exterior foundation to reduce heat loss.


More Help for Your Renovation

Want to get even more educated on energy efficiency in your reno project? Check out Natural Resources Canada’s guide “Keeping the Heat In” for a wealth of information on building science and how they relate to installing insulation and air sealing your home.


If you’re in the North Kawartha or surrounding areas and not feeling up to the drywalling bit, we are the pros that craft walls. The mudding and taping stage tends to require a bit of skill to get it right so let us know if we can help you out with your walls. Our crew will be happy to help you out with whatever drywalling services you need.