Sealing up the walls is the first big indicator that the house is nearing completion. Though it's not too glamorous, getting drywall up on the walls and ceilings is a defining moment. It's the first time you'll be able to actually see a room's dimensions.
At the same time, reexamine the locations of light fixtures, outlets, switches, cable tv and telephone lines before the walls are taped and mudded so they're where you want them.
The drywall crew usually has rule of the inside of the house for a week or so. During that time, they'll cut and fit sheets of drywall, nail/screw them in place, then tape and mud the joints.
A good crew can "rock" a house in a couple days but the mudding process takes longer because each of three coats has to dry, then be sanded or at least knocked down with a taping knife before the next coat goes on. So the mudding process can take another three to four days, or even longer on a big house.
Once the drywall crew is done, there is plenty of cleaning up to do. Sweep up all the dust and scrape off the globs of joint compound dried to the subfloor. The idea is to eliminate as much dust as possible before painting and putting down flooring.
We decided to finish our walls with a special plaster veneer. It's not a typical or inexpensive way to finish walls and requires more intensive work than normal drywall/joint compound walls. However, the plaster is more durable and doesn't scrape or dent like drywall.
The plaster crew first applied corner bead and fiber glass mesh tape to all the gypsum panel joints. Then they spread a base coat of plaster over all the walls and ceilings.
Like joint compound, the base coat dries, usually overnight. The high spots are scraped off and then the finish coats go on. The second coat sets a bit longer, then a third thin coat goes on for a smooth, uniform plaster finish.
Priming & Painting
After the walls are finished smooth, and the clean up is done, the painters can move in to prime and paint the walls.
Ideally, the painters should have the house to themselves, get the job done, and then leave the finishing to the other subs -- but sometimes that just isn't the case.
Our finish carpenters were installing trim and baseboard about the same time the painters got going. That makes extra work for everyone and you should try to schedule them separately.
We were getting pinched for time and had to deal with both subs at the same time. We don't recommend doing that, but it's another example of what a contractor sometimes has to do. Anyway, we had the painters do the upstairs after the carpenters were done there, and moved the carpenters down to the first floor.
There's always a dust issue whenever those two subs are in the house together. Make sure that rooms are sealed off from the sawdust because it will settle on wet paint or finish and ruin the job.
The painters also had to mask off the woodwork to avoid spilling paint on it. If you have a lot of natural woodwork, the painters can also go back and apply the stain and finish after painting, or stain the trim before it's nailed on. Again, there shouldn't be any dust in the air when that happens.