This project explains how to cut and install the drywall in this installment of How To Build a Basement Closet.
See the Wiremold electrical rough-in for the closet light in previous installment of this series.
How to Build a Basement Closet: Drywall Installation
Having completed the electrical wiring rough-in, the 1/2 inch thick drywall sheets are measured, cut and installed on the 2×4 closet frame.
I built the closet walls with full length 8 foot (96 inch) 2×4 lumber, therefore the distance from the floor to the 2×4 top plate is 1-1/2 in. (sole plate) + 96 inches 2×4 wall stud + 1-1/2 in. top plate for a total wall height of 99 inches. 99 inches is 3 inches longer than an 8 foot long sheet of drywall, therefore I will use 10 foot long sheets of drywall for the exterior closet walls. I could have cut the 96 inch 2×4 wall studs back to 93.5 inches (the extra 1/2 inch is for drywall floor clearance) and used 8 foot long drywall sheets. It was a personal choice between shortening the studs or using 3 pieces of 10 foot drywall.
Measure and Cut Drywall for the Closet Wall
I needed a 4 foot carpenter’s level, tape measure, 54 inch drywall T-square, pencil and pad to make careful measurements to fit the sheetrock panels. A minor complication is accommodating that setback (or ledge) in the exterior wall for the concrete foundation wall.
Wall Profile Sketch
I made sketch on my notepad of the closet wall profile and wrote down the measurements. The concrete foundation wall isn’t exactly plumb (vertical), so I used the 4 foot carpenter’s level to figure out the slant angle referenced to a plumb line. I tried to keep my measurements and cuts accurate to within 1/8 inch at the existing room wall abutments.
The sketch measurements are marked on the finish face of the 10 foot drywall panel. A long drywall T-square is indispensable here. It requires some planning to make the sequence of drywall cuts such that there isn’t a heavy section of drywall that may break off prematurely when snapping the cuts. The basic rule is to cut off the largest sections first. In this photo, I’m cutting the drywall to fit the height of the closet minus 1/2 inch for clearance above the concrete floor. The 1/2 inch gap at the floor will be covered by the baseboard.
The drywall sheets are cut using the “score and snap” method. I set the length of the utility knife blade such that it couldn’t accidentally scratch the floor and made a deep score along the cut line using the drywall T-square as a guide:
A helper and I carefully stood the 10 foot drywall sheet on edge. The drywall is then snapped (or broken) away from the knife cut made on the finished side. The drywall paper on the back is then cut along the break angle with the utility knife to separate the two sections.
Smooth the cut edge of the drywall panel by running the utility knife flat along the end to knock down any high spots.
A big advantage of the Skimstone concrete floor finish is the drywall dust vacuums up cleanly with the shopvac.
The measurements for the closet wall width and foundation wall setback are marked for scoring and cutting. A drywall saw was needed to make horizontal cut for the foundation wall setback before the longer vertical cut could be scored and snapped.
Hanging the Closet Drywall
The first sheet of 1/2 inch drywall stood in place and checked for fit. If adjustments to the fit are needed, just trim as needed with the utility knife.
The drywall sheet is initially fastened with course thread drywall screws to the 2×4 top plate. Notice the blue pieces of painter’s tape on the floor; the wall stud centers are marked on the floor tape before hanging the drywall. The stud centers are also marked on the top plate prior to installation. The purpose of marking the stud centers is to provide references for snapping a chalk line so I’ll know where to set the drywall screws. Shims (indicated by the green lines) were used to hold the drywall sheet off the floor while fastening the screws.
The drywall screws are spaced 16 inches apart along the chalk lines:
The DEWALT drywall dimpler bit automatically sets the correct screw depth with a small dimple. The dimple allows for a smooth finish with joint compound.
The drywall screws are spaced 16 inches apart:
View of the drywall from inside the closet. I can use 8 foot sheets of drywall in the closet because the interior walls are 3-1/2 inches shorter than the exterior walls due to the 2×4 ceiling joists.
View of the lower closet wall:
The interior ceiling drywall is installed in the next part of this series.
Hope this helps,
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