Remodeling Kitchens: Drywall
New drywall is necessary anytime new framing or plumbing goes in. It's always better to get that taken care of before you frame in any new soffits (unless the soffits go up against finished walls and ceilings).
That's because building codes usually require that soffits be closed off from the rest of the framing since any fires that started in the soffits could otherwise spread quickly into the wall framing and ignite the rest of the house. A layer of drywall effectively closes them off and presents the necessary firestop.
There are other firestopping options available as well when you build a soffit. Check with your local building officials for the method most appropriate to your situation.
Proper Drywall Backing
Before hanging the drywall, it's critical to check all the exposed framing, especially at the corners and where walls meet the ceiling to make sure there's sufficient backing for securing the drywall panels—at least 3/4" of solid framing to drive screws or nails into.
Usually that just requires some lengths of 2x4 blocking laid in at any gaps and secured to the existing framing. But, in some areas local codes may also require horizontal blocking at the seams in the exterior sheathing of new construction and many remodel situations.
Insulation & Vapor Barrier
If any exterior wall framing is exposed, you'll have to insulate properly between the studs and around any windows/doors and cover the insulation with a vapor barrier.
Typically R-19 insulation batts are used to fill the stud cavities in a remodeling project. They're sized to fit snugly between studs spaced 16 inches on center.
Personal comfort has been an issue for anyone installing fiberglass batts, but that's no problem if you wear gloves, long sleeves, protective eyewear and proper respirators. And there are now insulating batts available which are encased in plastic and made with a less irritating material known as Miraflex, made by Owens Corning. (See Insulation for more information.)
There are also special vapor barrier materials available that staple over the insulation and framing. Overlap the seams and seal them with tape so moisture from inside the house doesn't seep into the insulation.
Tips on Hanging Drywall
Pros usually hang drywall on the ceiling first, so the panels on the walls snug up under the ends of the ceiling panels.
Start in a corner with the long side of the first panel running perpendicular to the joists or studs.
Use either nails or screws, but tap the fasteners in at the corners before you raise the panels so you can position the panel with one hand and drive them in quickly with a hammer or screwgun using the other hand.
Rent a drywall lift to raise the panels up, especially if you're working alone.
Be sure to "dimple" each fastener, burying it slightly below the surface of the drywall without breaking the paper. That way, the joint compound applied later to hide the fastener heads can be sanded off smooth and flush with the surface.
Snap chalklines on each panel to show where the joists or studs go. Otherwise, it's very easy to miss the framing in the middle of the panels.
Don't let the butt joints at the short ends of the panels fall on the same joists or studs from row to row. Otherwise, you'll end up with a noticeable ridge where the joint compound builds up (the ends are not tapered like the long edges) and risk a long crack appearing if the panels flex at any point.
To make a long, straight drywall cut, score the front side of the panel by running a utility knife along a drywall T-square, snap the end of the panel away from the scored line to break the gypsum and then cut the paper backing at the break line to finish the cut.
Use a drywall saw or keyhole saw for shorter cuts or to cut pieces after they've been secured (like over a door/window opening or an outside corner).
To cut holes in a panel for electrical or plumbing fixtures:
For more information please visit our Hanging Drywall Section
Measure vertically and horizontally to the fixture from a point on the wall that'll match one of the corners of the panel.
Transfer those measurements to front of the panel and mark the outline of the object (to all four corners for a rectangular box, to the centerpoint for a round object). Use a compass to make circles.
Punch through the waste area with a keyhole saw and cut along the outline.
Test fit the panel and trim the hole as needed with a drywall rasp.