Hanging Drywall

While most of the house will be restored using the original lath/plaster design, certain spots it makes more sense to use drywall.

A little over a month ago (Sept 2020) Bridgette & I took on a very small drywall project while Elliot & Sergiu were out doing other stuff1. And we did a moderately bad job. But it still counts as a success: it was our first attempt, and not only did we actually start it, but we actually finished it, too.2

The target space was ridiculously tiny – one of the (many) cubby holes in the attic tucked under the roof. The ultimate goal is to get all of these cubbies (and steeples….) drywalled and “finished” so that we can actually use the space (whether for toy storage or children storage…er…I mean secret play rooms…), but we started with the smallest.3 As we were already on kid-watching duty that day, the first challenge was getting buy-in from the senior leadership team (Obi & Westley). We presented the plan as a way to make Oberon his very own secret room – just like Westley’s!

It worked, but not without painful consequences for future Aly.4

After the kids agreed to “behave” while we did this, we measured (again) the inside of the cubby (and I failed -again- to get decent before pictures), we scavenged a bunch of drywall,5 and hastily made our first cuts.

FIrst piece done!
Horribly measured/cut/planned, but Sergiu will (one day) patch/fix the bottom right hand angle (not pictured)

Despite measuring several times, I still screwed up the bottom right angle (unintentionally cropped, I was also bad at photography that day, apparently). Because of the odd shape and angles of the roof and living space walls, it was actually pretty tricky getting that little right triangle in a spot that would allow us to actually attach it to some studs. That fact shares some of the responsibility for my wonky bottom-right-corner.

Sadly, that piece would end up being the easiest.

We intentionally chose to put both the triangle pieces in first, though honestly I cannot remember why we thought that was a good idea. On the bright side, I managed a few before pictures here.

We also had a little trouble finding studs to attach this triangle piece to, but we persisted and it turned out differently-same as the other side (aka, the bottom acute angle on the triangle fit fine, but the top acute angle ended up being a bit odd because of the stud situation).

In our naivete, we continued onward to the next-easiest piece. The smaller square piece to the (smaller) side of the door. I’m pretty sure the space shrunk because I measured this stupid thing like six times, and I still cut the drywall too big. After the third or fourth trim, though, I just muscled it into place. Barely needed any screws, it was so tightly jammed in there!

It was right around this time that Bridgette and I both came to understand how and why Sergiu’s forearms so closely resemble those of Popeye’s. Hanging drywall is really hard! Not just because we didn’t know what we were doing, but between cutting the damn things (not easy), getting them into place (really not easy!), holding them in place while (constantly) holding the drill at awkward angles, and then having to redo half of it because you didn’t measure carefully enough/can’t find the stud the first fifty times/etc.. it’s a serious forearm workout. Even just drywalling a tiny little space like this was brutal.

With 3 out of 5 walls drywalled, we thought we were more than halfway done. We were wrong.

Just how wrong started to become apparent on the next section. My MS Paint model above can help us all stay on the same page (wall?). At this point, we had completed (in order) A, B, and C. But when trying to get the D wall into the space, we discovered that our combined lack of geometry skills (or basic reasoning) had left us unprepared. We couldn’t get the full piece of drywall needed for wall D into the space, the combo door-size and incredibly small space made the angle too sharp (and drywall doesn’t bend very well).

It wasn’t too bad, we just cut it in half and got it in place…

…and we finally started to conceptualize what a problem Wall E was going to be…

Wall E6 – surprisingly large for how incredibly small the cubby is – proved to be just as much of a problem as we (eventually) anticipated. Any guesses on how many pieces we had to use into in order to get enough drywall into that room? (I had no idea, I had to go check – it’s been a month after all). Turns out, it was six pieces.7

Combination of the patchwork nature, the awkward angles (and my earlier mistakes creating additional awkward angles), and my exhaustion-based laziness, the final result looks kind of ridiculous and isn’t even smoothly aligned in several spots. But again, Sergiu swears he can fix it (it’s been a month, and he hasn’t) with patching/skimcoating/painting – or one of those words he says a lot that I don’t know what it fully entails.

It took all day, but we did it. It was poorly planned out (by me), and kind of poorly executed (again, by me). But we did it – so that puts us one-up on Sergiu (who could have done the whole thing in about 4 minutes, but still hasn’t patched/skim coated/painted/etc – one month later and counting).

Summary of observations/lessons:

  • Measure (and learn how to measure before starting – still don’t know how I kept screwing that up).
  • Build up your forearm muscles and get ready to spend countless hours trying to cut the sheetrock.
  • Somehow mark where your studs are before you place your drywall. I can’t stress this enough. (even though I never learned this lesson during this project!)
  • Learn how to patch/skimcoat/whatever because otherwise it will never get done, either 😉

And Oberon has started storing some of his larger toys in this nice little out-of-the-way space, so it wasn’t all for nothing.

Oberon’s assortment of vehicles, and an off-brand Barbie.

1 More on that later.
2 Not-so-subtle dig at Sergiu here – he was supposed to do this (and many other things) ages ago and just never has. So we were basically showing him that even though we suck at hanging drywall, we could take on the project and finish it while simultaneously watching the children. But, admittedly, it is super difficult to both get stuff done AND be a good parent, so it is not something that could be done often. And honestly, it’s not even done (it is still a “half-finished project” at this point). But the hanging drywall portion of it is done, and that is all I was going for.
3 This was a terrible idea for several reasons, not least of which: it is a real pain in the everywhere trying to maneuver in there and hang drywall. It is also wildly disappointing to your 3 year old when you promise him a “secret room” like his brother’s, and it ends up being *almost* too small for him to even enjoy.
4 He was so disappointed that the space didn’t magically become huge after we were done drywalling. Poor ridiculous toddler with ridiculous toddler expectations.
5 We actually used all “scraps” for this project, so it was a very satisfyingly sustainable experience that did not use any “new” drywall resources. Used a lot of screws, though.
6 Not to be mistaken with Wall-E, who is awesome.
7 At least one of those is because I’m ridiculous about wasting things & refused to use anything that wasn’t already a scrap.

3 thoughts on “Hanging Drywall

  1. You mislabeled this post. It should be “Creating Secret Rooms.” So cool! Who doesn’t want a secret room? The current title’s fine but a little dry. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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