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Drywall estimating - Estimating how much drywall to finish a basement

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Although drywall is relatively inexpensive, it's also VERY heavy. Accurate estimating is critical- not only do you want to spend the extra money for sheets of drywall that you don't need, you also don't want to have extra around that you'll need to return. In my case, since I needed to cut each sheet to fit it into the basement (see drywall and insulation delivery), that would not have been an option.

Chances are you'll be estimating amounts for two types of drywall- one for your 'regular' walls (usually " or 5/8") and one amount for the sheets of fire code drywall (at least 5/8") you'll need.

Drywall delivery

FAB Tip: Make sure you check building codes in your area to determine fire code requirements. You don't want to skip fire code drywall in places where it's required!

 

I needed fire code drywall on the walls near the furnace, and also under the stairs. This is required because if you have a fire in the basement, fire coded drywall on the bottom of the steps will give you and your family more time to get out! Take a look at the diagram below to see where I used regular drywall (yellow wall line) and fire code drywall (denoted by red lines).

Drywall estimating- how to estimate drywall and fire-coded drywallDrywall estimating tips

  • Measure the total length for all of your walls. Remember that for some walls, you'll need drywall on both sides of the wall.
  • Be sure to measure and total all walls where fire code drywall will be used independently of those where you will use standard drywall.
  • DO NOT SUBTRACT ANYTHING for door openings and window openings. (For example if you have a 3' wide door opening, that still counts a 3 feet of drywall.)
  • Take the total number of feet you measure and add 10% - 15% to get the total number of lineal feet required. Whether you add 10% or 15% depends on:
    • How confident you are that you won't ruin sheets of drywall during the cutting/hanging process.
    • Determining whether it would be more difficult to return the extra sheets (if that's even an option), or would it be more difficult to buy a few more sheets after the fact if you're running short.
  • Assuming your basement ceiling will not be higher than 8', and you're using 4x8 sheets of drywall, divide the total number of lineal feet of drywall by 4. This is the total number of sheets you should buy. (Round up any leftover amount.) If you're hanging two layers of drywall (for extra soundproofing), multiply your final number by two.
  • If you've done this correctly, you should end up with just about the right amount of drywall- give or take a few sheets.

Drywall estimating example

Take a look at the example below. For this example we'll estimate drywall needed to finish the basement office.

How to drywall an office- Basement remodeling is easier if you learn to estimate how much drywall you will need.

Based on this example we have:

  • (3) 12' walls
    REMEMBER: The wall with the door needs to be finished on both sides, AND we do NOT subtract anything for the 32" doorway.
  • (1) 10' wall
  • (1) 8' wall

Now, we add the lengths of all the walls: 12+12+12+10+8 = 54' of wall space. Adding 10% (about 6' rounding up) to this total gives us 60 feet of wall to finish.

Assuming 4x8 sheets of drywall, and 8' ceilings, this means we'll need 15 sheets of drywall to finish the office space.

See how easy that is!

Additional drywall resources

How to hang drywall - Learn the ins and outs of hanging drywall for your basement remodeling project.
How to cut around outlets - Learn to cut around outlets, switches, and other openings.
Drywall tools - Here are the things you'll need to complete your basement remodeling project.

 

Construction Topics

Tools you'll need

The 3-4-5 rule

How to frame a wall

How to attach walls

How to install insulation

Drywall estimating

How to hang drywall: Step-by-step

How to cut drywall

How to cut around outlets and openings

Drywall installation tips

How to frame a door

How to trim a door to fit

How to finish a door

How to frame around poles

How to finish drywall

How to sand drywall

Tips for buying, finishing, & installing baseboard molding

How to fix squeaky floors

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