How to Hang Drywall Ceilings by Yourself

About: We love home improvement and enjoy sharing tips on YouTube and Home Repair Tutor. Everything we do is self taught. Over the last 12 years we've bought and rehabbed several rental homes in Pittsburgh. Somet...

Have you struggled hanging drywall ceilings by yourself?

It can be a real chore and painful.

But there are some tricks and tips that make it a WHOLE LOT EASIER.

Today you’ll learn how hang drywall ceilings by yourself and without killing your back.

Furthermore you’ll see how to perfectly cut around a bathroom fan.

This tutorial was done in a small bathroom but you can copy a lot of the tips for other parts of your home.

Here are the supplies you need

  • Impact Driver
  • Magnet Driver Bit
  • Drywall Dimple Bit
  • Drywall Screws (Course Threaded for Wood Studs)
  • RotoSaw Plus Dust Vault
  • Respirator
  • Utility Knife
  • Drywall T-Square
  • Chalk Line
  • Three Inch Wood or Deck Screws
  • Pencil
  • Drywall
  • Scrap 2×4

In this tutorial I drywalled over the existing plaster ceiling. If you're in a similar predicament my tips will help.

What are the first steps to hanging drywall ceilings?

Step 1: Find the Joists

If you want to hang new drywall over an old ceiling, you first need to find the joists.

Mark the joist position on the wall or framing.
One more thing, this mark should indicate the center of the joist because two drywall pieces get screwed into one joist to create a drywall seam.

Step 2: Measure the Ceiling Length & Width

Measure the length and width of the ceiling.

The bathroom I’m working in is wonky as all heck.
No wall is square and the width was a few inches more than 48 inches. Meaning I couldn’t just add one piece of drywall across the span.

SOOOO…instead I had to cut drywall to accommodate this issue.

Here are some tips for cutting drywall for small spaces

  1. Position tapered edges against other tapered edges
  2. Subtract 1/4″ from a drywall piece if it spans the entire room width
  3. Take multiple measurements

Tip 1 helps with the finishing.

Tip 2 helps with fitting the drywall against the joists.

For example, the width of this bathroom was 52 3/4″ wide. Therefore, I subtracted 1/4″ to get 52 1/2″.

Tip 3 helps you cut drywall to the right size. For example, the length of drywall I needed was 45 5/8 inches. But at the length of 45 5/8″ the width was 52 5/8″ which was wider than the initial 52 3/4″ measurement.

Had I assumed the width was 52 3/4″ (minus the 1/4″) I would have struggled to make the drywall fit the ceiling.

This is easier to follow along with in the video but I digress. Measure multiple times!!

Step 3: Cut the Drywall

Cut your drywall to size with a sharp utility knife and drywall T-Square.

Stand the drywall up on edge, hit the back with your knee and score it with the utility knife.

Step 4: Label Drywall

Label the drywall edge as ‘Door’ for the door side.

And the drywall edge as ‘Window’ for the window side.

If you’re mechanically challenged, like me, this helps keep the correct drywall orientation when you hoist it above your head.

Step 5: Pre-Drill Screws

Plus, I transposed the joist location onto the drywall and pre-drilled drywall screws.

In addition, use coarse threaded drywall screws if your framing is wood.

n my lovely bathroom we have 1/4″ lath, 1/4″ plaster and are using 1/2″ drywall.

As such, I opted to use 2″ coarse threaded drywall screws so that at least 1″ of screw went into the joist

Step 6: Use a Dimple Bit

When embedding drywall screws into drywall use a dimple bit in your magnetic bit holder.

This embeds the drywall screws such that they are slightly depressed in the paper.

And ultimately makes your mudding process easier.

Once your drywall is cut it’s ready to be hung on the joists.

But how do you this with killing your back?

Step 7: Add Support to the Wall

Often times I hang drywall by myself. And I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Therefore, I try to use my brain to lessen the pain involved with drywall work.

If you have to hang drywall ceilings by yourself, attach a scrap piece of 2×4 to the wall.

It should be about 3/4″ from the bottom of the joist.

Step 8: Hoist Drywall to Joist

That way you can hoist the drywall over your head, rest it on the 2×4 and secure the drywall to the joists.

Step 9: Secure Drywall to Joists

You can snap a chalk-line across the drywall to give yourself a reference for where to drill the screws.

Remember those joist marks you made on the wall…yep, they come in handy at this point.

Screws should be placed every 10-12 inches along a joist and about 3/4 of an each from edge.

Step 10: Get Center Location for Fan or Lights

Get the center location for bathroom fans or recessed lights.

I place this dimension on the framing or wall.

My video walks you through this a bit more.

You want the center dimension is because you can use a RotoZip to cut out a perfect square or circle.

Let me explain this a bit further.

Step 11: Cut Out Drywall for Fan & Lights

There’s a recurring theme here on Home Repair Tutor.

And that is this: sometimes the tools make all the difference.

For example, if you want to cut a perfect hole in drywall the RotoZip can be a huge help.

It’s easier to cut drywall with the RotoZip if you run it counterclockwise.

In this case I wanted to make sure I was in the fan housing and cut out a little piece.

Step 12: Watch the Step-by-Step Video

Hopefully you liked the tips in today's tutorial.

You can save a lot of time (and money) by following the steps in the video.

Thanks as always for reading and watching.

Our DIY community is awesome because of you.

Muchos gracias for adding your ideas to the comments.

Make it a great day,




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    38 Discussions


    5 weeks ago

    I have to drywall a shed behind my house I am having put in for My ferrets so they are warm and safe in the winter. It will be necessary to drywall and insulate it. Thanks for showing me the tricks on how to do it, I don’ t feel like a complete clueless fool now.


    3 years ago

    Arnold Schwarzenegger may look pretty to the dumb girls (with a million with plastic surgery and makeup, he should get something), but he evades questions in every serious interview. Even though he's supposedly not a politician anymore, he still does it. It's very insulting to the public.

    Please use someone else as a strong-man example next time.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    rofl I didn't even see Arny mentioned?


    Reply 1 year ago

    Step 7 uses Arnold as strongman example. But he's a fraud. He promotes anti-drug-user laws, yet he munches steroids as a daily routine. If he were a decent actor, I would give him a pass, but he's not even that.


    3 years ago

    to hang drywall on a concrete or brick ceiling, you can use joint compound as mastic. You mud the backside, create a 2x4 "T" to hold it tight against the ceiling and then nail it in with concrete nails. You can also rent a drywall hoist to push it tight to the ceiling. If the ceiling is tall you can build a frame (essentially a drop ceiling) then screw onto that. If it's a large area you can use a drop ceiling system with metal hanger rods, clips, black iron a firing strips (usually metal but I've seen wood use).


    3 years ago

    Unfortunately this is mostly useless for me because houses in my country are made out of concrete and hard brick, not cardboard and thin wood :(

    4 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    The ceiling joists are made out of brick in your country?


    Reply 3 years ago

    Probably there are no joists. Lets say my house walls are concrete blocks from inside and bricks on outside and all ceiling are made from long concrete panels (approx 300cm X 100 cm X 20 or 25cm). Gaps were filled also with concrete. Some ceiling are poured out to achieve special form - also concrete. Such houses were very common like 20 years ago in eastern Europe, but later they also started build cheaper frame houses.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes, no joists. my walls are bricks with reinforced concrete. That's the average in my country and the bricks are actually blocks or around 25*15*60 cm each, all with a steel soul frame. The ceilings/floors are poured concrete of around 20-30 cm thick (also with internal 3cm twisted steel meshes). But Im from latinamerica. However our buildings are meant to last generations and withstand earthquakes. So things for cardboard panels or wood are mostly none existent and useless around here :(

    The image below is from when the kitchen was under ampliation. After that you are supposed to give a flattening layer of sand,cerofino and concrete, then you use a paste.


    Reply 3 years ago

    We dont have joiists per se. We have 'trabes', which are normally a skeleton of industrial twisted steel and then poured concrete, for big buildings we use steel 'vigas' . ceilings and roofs are flat and also out of poured concrete called 'losas'.


    3 years ago

    If your doing a full sheet in a room you can make a T jack out of 2 two by fours .make it 1/2" shorter than the height of the can make 2 jacks to hold up the whple sheet.


    3 years ago

    i would like to use the rotor zip to do all my detail cut outs for a dashboard for an mg 1952 restoration.the dashboerd is a thin sheet of hard wood with will have about 10 differentinstruments of different sizes assembled to it

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Rotozips don't just cut drywall. They are also great for cutting plastics, fiberglass, aluminum sheet, laminates, wood, and even tile with the right bit. It's a dusty job with drywall though. For non drywall, use a wood, plastics, and siding bit, counterclockwise..


    3 years ago

    I'm a girl , so when hanging drywall on walls I trace the outlets with lipstick , press drywall up against the wall then remove to cut out drywall where the outlets are (then use a drywall saw to cut them out) a rotozip would sure make that faster! Still have 3/4 of my basement to do walls and all of ceilings!!! When money allows!!!

    5 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    The lipstick idea is so simple, it's near genius. It's readily available and can be used for other projects that require pattern transfers. I'm gonna look funny buying lipstick at Walgreens, but I don't care.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Great idea on the lipstick!!! My wife is gonna kill me tho....


    Reply 3 years ago

    That's the best idea I've heard to locate light fixture boxes, vent registers, etc. I'll have to remember that.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Very good idea using the lipstick - that's a variation of using a carpenter's pencil or wax layout crayon.


    Reply 3 years ago

    A woman after my heart :). I'm the fix-it person in my home, too. My fiance just isn't so inclined and prefers doing house work. It's a WIN/WIN for us both! Especially since he will actually get me power tools as gifts like I ask.


    3 years ago

    Such small pieces I just cut to size, lift and hold with one hand, put 3-4 screws in corners and finish with rest of screws. The fun part is when you have to hang whole sheet all alone... :)