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Drywall Installation Cost

The average cost of installing drywall is $1,500 - $2,000.

In this guide

Sizes and thickness
Prep work
Horizontal vs vertical installation
Types
Level of finish
Textures
Labor
Drywall vs Sheetrock vs plaster
New construction vs remodel
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install drywall?

Whether building a home from the ground up or remodeling an existing room, drywall 1 is used for wall construction. It’s durable and relatively easy to install, even for amateurs. Drywall is one of the most common building materials in the modern era, replacing the older method of plaster 2 application.

Drywall is used for walls and ceilings in a variety of rooms and is typically composed of gypsum and paper. Specialty drywall such as mold- or moisture-resistant may have special coatings. Fire-resistant drywall is composed of glass and eco-friendly drywall may contain other recycled industry byproducts.

Drywall is easier to install than plaster and is a convenient material that is relatively easy to install. The cost to replace and install 1,000 square feet of standard 1/2" drywall ranges from $1,500-$2,000.

Sizes and thickness

Drywall 1 comes in several sizes, but 4’ x 8’ sheets are the most common and the easiest to use for DIYers. There are larger sheets for taller ceilings (4’ x 12’ and 4’ x 16’), but these are difficult for a home installer to work with and should only be used by professionals ($16 per sheet or more).

Drywall comes in thicknesses ranging from 1/4” to 5/8”, but 1/2” is the most popular. The 1/4" sheets ($11.00 per sheet) are typically used for repairs, or as an overlay on an existing sheet. This is often used to cover ceilings. They can also be used to create curved walls, though this can be achieved by dampening thicker drywall as well.

The most common drywall thickness is 1/2" and is used in wall and ceiling applications ($10-$20 per sheet). Water-resistant drywall of the same thickness is used in bathrooms ($14-$25 per sheet).

Thicker drywall, often 5/8” fire-resistant drywall, is used in garages and furnace rooms. This thickness of drywall averages around $13 per sheet.

Prep work

In order to install or replace drywall 1, the following steps should be taken in preparation:

  • Demolition: In the case of replacement, the old wall will need to be removed, taking care to avoid electrical and plumbing components. Wall demolition costs range from $400-$3,000, depending on if it is load-bearing or requires significant electrical or plumbing work.
  • Insulation: Insulation should be replaced if necessary, or installed if the wall is new. Batt insulation is the most common. Wall insulation typically costs $0.75 -$0.95 per square foot.
  • Framing: Walls should be framed specifically for drywall installation if they aren’t already. Wood framing is typical in residential applications.

Horizontal vs vertical installation

Drywall 1 can be installed two different ways: vertically and horizontally. There are pros and cons to each. The cost differential is negligible, as the cost varies primarily with the type of drywall and the level of finish.

HorizontalVertical

Fewer seams

Stronger structure

Easier to finish

Not everyone has experience with horizontal installation

Easier installation

Attaches to studs securely

Easier to attach baseboards


Types

There are many different types of drywall. Which one you choose may depend on the type of room, its function, and your budget.

  • Traditional/standard: This is the typical, no-frills drywall that is suitable for general purpose use in residential houses. This can be used for walls and ceilings ($10-$20 per sheet).
  • Moisture-resistant: Sometimes known as “green board,” moisture-resistant drywall has a special coating to prevent moisture absorption. This is often used in bathrooms, basements, and other areas with high moisture ($14-$25 per sheet).
  • Mold-resistant: This drywall has a special coating that helps deter mold growth and is used in bathrooms and basements and other areas with a lot of moisture ($13-$15 per sheet).
  • Fire-resistant: This type of drywall is made of glass fibers and is used in garages and utility rooms, as well as rooms with furnaces or wood stoves ($13 per sheet).
  • Soundproof: Simply put, soundproof drywall has better soundproofing abilities and is used in residential rooms. Soundproof drywall generally costs quite a bit more than traditional drywall ($50 per sheet).
  • Eco-friendly: U.S.-made drywall is often composed of recycled materials, but some manufacturers use more industry byproducts in their drywall, making it a more sustainable choice.

Level of finish

There are six levels of finishing when it comes to drywall 1 installation. The higher the finish level, the more you pay for labor, as each level requires increasingly more work.

  • Level 0: This is completely unfinished and is often used for temporary construction projects. This could cost as little as $0.50 per square foot.
  • Level 1: A level 1 finish has visible tape and possibly joint compounds. It’s used in areas that will not have decoration or are out of sight, such as an attic. There may also be ridges and tool marks.
  • Level 2: If you’re not concerned with appearances, a level 2 finish will work well, particularly in places like garages. The walls are finished with joint compound 3 and joint tape, though there may be some tool marks.
  • Level 3: This level of finish is appropriate when there is going to be a heavy decoration or heavy textures applied. The joint compound covers all joints, tape, and fixtures.
  • Level 4: Ask for a level 4 finish when you plan on applying light textures or flat paint. Both will hide the evidence of the joint compound.
  • Level 5: A thin coat of joint compound is applied to the whole surface, making it suitable for areas to be decorated with gloss, semi-gloss, or enamel paint.

Your contractor will be able to provide a more exact estimate, but drywall installation typically ranges from $1.00-$3.00 per square foot for materials and installation.

Textures

Textures can be applied to drywall 1, which can add character to your room. There are two main methods of applying texture: hand application and spray application.

Hand-applied textures include:

  • Hawk and trowel: This also refers to the tools used in the process, but essentially the texture is unique to the tools and is relatively uncommon.
  • Santa Fe: This is common in the Southwest and Florida and resembles adobe structures.
  • Skip trowel: This style is also uncommon outside of the US Southwest. The skip trowel is used to create the texture, which features circular effects.
  • Swirl: Swirl texture is common in ceilings, and the effect is created with half-circles.
  • Rosebud stomp: A special brush is used to create a flower/rosebud effect. Experienced tradesmen can achieve this better than home installers.
  • Stomp knockdown: A stomp brush is used to essentially “stomp” the drywall compound into place. The pattern will be unique every time.

Spray-applied textures include:

  • Knockdown: Not to be confused with a stomp knockdown, this texture looks somewhat similar but has more of a splatter effect.
  • Orange peel: This technique ends up looking somewhat like the texture of an orange peel and was very popular in the 1990s and 2000s.

Labor

A carpenter or contractor can install drywall 1 for you, and it will likely involve a team of at least two people, as drywall sheets can be heavy and unwieldy. Drywall installers charge by the square foot ($1.00-$3.00 per square foot), but the final price will also include the cost of materials (which varies) and cleanup and removal. The old drywall will need to be removed first. Then the area should be inspected for any other potential issues, such as insulation, electrical, and plumbing problems. If framing is needed, that will be the next step, then the drywall can be installed and finished. The level of finish will depend on the final decorations and room purpose. A garage wall, for example, does not need the same level of finish as a bathroom.

Drywall vs Sheetrock vs plaster

Many people refer to drywall as a whole as “sheetrock 1”, but Sheetrock is actually a registered trademark of a company that produces drywall. Unlike drywall (Sheetrock or other brands), plaster is an older method of wall construction, and while the former is much more common these days, each has its benefits.

DrywallPlaster

Less expensive

Easier to install

Potentially DIY

Expensive

Produces a better finish

“Vintage” look

Durable

Requires professional application


New construction vs remodel

It’s important to consider the different factors involved in drywall installation in new installation versus with a remodel.

Drywall being installed as part of a remodel will probably warrant a bulk discount for the materials. Additional savings will be achieved since there will be no demolition or removal of old walls. With a remodel you never know what you’re going to find in terms of the framing, electrical, and/or plumbing behind the walls and all of those areas can create costly surprises.

In remodeling a room you can update or upgrade the texture of your walls with a different finish than you used to have and it will, of course, be a much faster project than installing drywall throughout an entire new house.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Painting

When the wall is finished to the level you desire, you can have the wall painted. An average-sized bedroom (12’ x 12’), for example, will cost $400-$800 for professional painting. You should note that if the drywall finish level is lower, with more visible seams, the paint may not be able to hide them entirely.

Ceiling installation

Drywall can also be installed on the ceiling. There may not be an additional cost in many cases, but if your ceiling is particularly high (think cathedral and vaulted ceilings), it may come with a 10%-30% upcharge.

Removing old drywall

If there is preexisting drywall, the old wall will need to be removed. Carpenters typically charge $70 per hour, and the cost to remove old drywall costs $400-$700.

Additional considerations and costs

  • It is possible to make drywall installation a DIY project. To make your project a success, you’ll need to be prepared. You will need at least two people to install drywall, and you’ll need all of the materials ready to go, including nails and screws, drywall sheets, and plastic sheeting to protect surfaces from collecting dust. A DIY project may take as long as 3-4 days, depending on the size of the project.
  • There are different thicknesses of drywall, and local building codes will dictate which thickness is suitable for specific applications. Curved walls, for example, may allow for thinner drywall sheets than flat, load-bearing walls.
  • Not all drywall sheets are the same, and some are better suited for certain applications than others. For example, if you are going to be working in a bathroom space, you will want to choose a moisture-resistant (green board) drywall. Green board is just one type of specialty drywall. Living rooms or other rooms where people spend a lot of time may benefit from soundproofing drywall that can help minimize sound traveling to other parts of the house.
  • Remember that dreaded popcorn ceiling? You can actually cover the ceiling with drywall instead of removing the old ceiling. This type of installation is easier when left to a professional crew. The cost will vary depending on how tall your ceilings are.
  • Removing old walls can be potentially hazardous, which is why you need to have the right safety equipment and ventilation tools, particularly in older homes. Older homes often have asbestos and lead-based paint hidden underneath modern layers, which can cause serious health complications when breathed in. If you do find asbestos, removal is the best course of action. Asbestos removal can cost $200-$700.
  • Replacing drywall will actually give you an opportunity to check out what’s going on in your house behind the scenes and see if there are any other potential issues that can be repaired before they get worse. You can assess your wiring, timbers, and insulation. Additionally, you can see if there is evidence of pests or aging electrical components that need replacing. Moisture is another issue that can escalate and cause damage when left unchecked.
  • In some locations, permits may be required when doing a demolition or remodel, but it usually depends on the scope of the project and whether it involves electrical or plumbing work or is on a load-bearing wall. Your local government office should be able to let you know if you need a building permit.
  • Be wary of any contractor that simply provides an estimate for the drywall installation. A legitimate estimate for any drywall job should include the cost of transport, prep work, cost of materials, and clean up and removal of dust and debris.
  • It’s critical to find an experienced professional to do the job right. Feel free to ask friends for references, and the AWCI (Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry) can also provide helpful information. It’s always good practice to get at least three quotes along with references from past jobs.

FAQ

  • What do you need to install drywall?

To install drywall you will need at least two people, drywall sheets, drywall screws, cutting tools, sawhorses, a tape measure, power drill, and plastic sheeting.

  • Should drywall be hung vertically or horizontally?

Either will work, and each has its own benefits. Vertically hung drywall means secure attachment to studs, while horizontal placement means cleaner seams and easier finishing.

  • How long does it take to put up drywall?

Drywall installation takes as little as one day and as long as four weeks, including the time it takes to prep and clean up debris. The amount of time depends on the size of the project, framing needs, and level of finish.

  • How much does drywall installation cost?

Drywall installation costs $700-$3,400 for 1,000 square feet of drywall.

  • How much does it cost to frame and drywall a room?

The cost will vary depending on the size of the room, but the average cost to frame and drywall a room ranges from $1.00-$3.00 per square foot.

  • How much does it cost to finish a 700 sq.ft. basement?

A 700 square foot basement will have approximately 1,000 square feet of walls. The cost will depend on the level of finish, but a level 5 finish in a 700 square foot basement would cost $2,100.

  • How much more does a Level 5 Drywall cost?

A level 5 finish means minimal if any, visible seams and a uniform finish. Level 5 drywall costs as much as $1.50 per square foot.

  • How many sheets of drywall do I need for 1,000 square feet?

If you are using the standard 4’ x 8’ sheets, you will need approximately 32 sheets.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sheetrock 1 Drywall: (Also known as Sheetrock) Type of plasterboard, commonly used to build walls and ceilings, composed of gypsum that is layered between sheets of heavy paper
glossary term picture Plaster 2 Plaster: A paste composed of sand, water, and either lime, gypsum, or cement, which forms a smooth hard surface on walls, ceilings, and other structures upon drying
3 Joint compound: A material used to fill and smooth over gaps between sheets of drywall to produce an even, flat wall. It is made of gypsum, clay and latex resin that is then mixed with water

Cost to install drywall varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

picture related to the guide

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Alexandria, VA
+2%
Arlington, TX
+6%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Blue Ridge, TX
+23%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Cameron, NC
-28%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Clarksville, TN
-13%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Crandall, TX
-39%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Franklin, MI
+37%
Frederick, MD
0%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Gig Harbor, WA
-2%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Gresham, OR
+8%
Honolulu, HI
+35%
Houston, TX
+24%
Irvine, CA
+23%
Irving, TX
+10%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Lake Mary, FL
-1%
Leesburg, VA
+10%
Lithonia, GA
+9%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Mabank, TX
-38%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Meriden, CT
+21%
Miami, FL
+1%
Milwaukee, WI
+12%
Murray, KY
-25%
New York, NY
+77%
Newark, CA
+35%
Norwood, PA
+26%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Portland, OR
+11%
Prospect, CT
+21%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Salisbury, NC
-23%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources