How to cut and apply drywall around an opening

Jul 29, 2020
How to cut and apply drywall around an opening

Whether it’s a door or a window, every room has an opening—with some having two, three, or even four! So, if you’re applying drywall, it pays to know how to work around them both quickly and accurately.

There are several different ways to do this, but we’re going to show you a method that will save you a ton of time (not to mention headaches) by avoiding measuring altogether. Don’t worry, it’s just as precise as any other approach, if not more so.

Just follow these six simple steps and you’ll be finished with your drywall installation in no time.

Tools you’ll need

Before you begin your drywall installation, make sure you have the following tools on hand:

  • A drywall gun and screws
  • A hammer
  • Two thin nails (must be longer than the thickness of your drywall panels)
  • A chalk line
  • A sharp utility knife
  • A drywall rasp

Step 1: Prepare your space

This may go without saying, but before you can begin on your wall panels, you’ll want to make sure the ceiling drywall is fully installed. As for your opening, for this method to work there can only be the door or window framing in place. If there is a jamb already installed, you’ll have to remove it before proceeding.

Step 2: Install the upper panel

Begin by placing a full 4x8’ sheet of drywall horizontally into an upper corner, ignoring the opening for now. This panel should cover the top portion of your opening while remaining flush with the ceiling. With either a partner or a drywall lift holding it in place, attach it to the wall with screws every 12 inches along the center of the panel and every 8 inches along the seams and frame (make sure you’re hitting the center of the studs with each screw).

Step 3: Cut the backside of the drywall

Now that your first panel is firmly in place and your opening is partially obstructed, hop through an opening in the studs to the other side of the wall. Following the framework of the opening, use your utility knife to cut halfway through the backside of the drywall.

Step 4: Insert the nails and mark your lines

Now for the clever part. Gently pound a nail through each of the upper corners of the frame, making sure the ends stick out at least a half-inch on the front side. Now head back inside the room and grab your chalk line. Starting with the bottom of the panel, wind the line straight up and around both protruding nails and then back down to the lower edge of the drywall. Snap all three sections of the line to mark a perfect cutting guide.

Step 5: Cut out the opening and smooth the edges

Take your utility knife and carefully follow the chalk lines to remove the upper section of your opening. Since you already cut halfway through the back, it should pop off with relative ease. Now grab your drywall rasp and use it to smooth the interior edges you created.

Step 6: Repeat the process with the lower panels

Now that the upper section is complete, you can repeat this process with the lower panels. Just make sure you install the remaining upper sheets around the room first (cutting out any other openings as well), as you should always work from top to bottom. It’s as simple as that!

Finish your next job with a little help from Al’s

Since 1985, Al’s Taping Tools has been providing contractors with the most extensive selection of high-quality tools, parts, and accessories in the industry. Our experts are here to help you find more simple ways to save time and money on your next project. Shop our products today to give yourself an advantage on any job site.

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