Prepping for Drywall

A little advance work—using shims and spray paint—goes a long way

It’s time to batten down the hatches and seal up the walls at Custom Design & Construction's Sheldon Street project. But before the hangers can hit the job site, it’s important to ensure the framing is adequately prepared. After all, the last thing you need to discover after the fact is that bowed or poorly installed studs weren’t flush and resulted in wavy walls, or that outlet boxes, can lights, and other rough wiring wasn’t clearly marked and got covered over in gypsum board. 

To avoid those scenarios, a crew from HH Drywall arrives with straightedges and chalk lines to check the studs. Areas that bow inward are shaved down with a planer, while sections that bow out are filled in with strips of cardboard drywall shims.

Pre-cut to fit the length and width of a typical wall stud, a proper shim should be made of dense cardboard (to avoid compaction) about 1/8-inch thick, which can then be stacked depending on the severity of the deformity. Going beyond three layers isn’t recommended, however, as the staples used to apply them may not be long enough to bite into the stud. In that instance, the drywall screw will have less wood to grip. When more fill is required, a piece of drywall is used as a shim.

Supervisor Victor Lopez brings his 40 years of experience to play when he inspects the prep work to make sure everything is good to go. One genius stroke of efficiency he takes is indicating on the floor—with bright orange spray paint—everywhere there’s an adjacent electrical outlet (shown with a simple line), loose wiring that needs to be pulled through the gypsum (with a “W”), or a circular can light up above in the ceiling (with an “O”). This gives hangers a visual reminder that a hole needs to be cut and, in the event they do make a mistake and cover something, it provides a clear indicator where a correction needs to be made.

Lopez also looks for any blocking that might be out of place or plumbing that might present a literal bump in the road for those hangers. After all, better to fix it now than regret it later.

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