Estimating the Cost of Drywall Hanging and Taping

What will it cost to Drywall my house?

For those not familiar with construction estimating, creating a budget for a remodel or new construction project can be a daunting task. You may ask a contractor to give you a quote for an upcoming project but how do you know whether or not the price is fair. The information below should help the average person understand the costs associated with drywall work. Understanding the process of estimating drywall projects will help prepare you to accept or reject a drywall contractor's quoted price. We'll discuss two types of jobs, large drywall jobs and small patches or remodels.

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Estimating the cost of large drywall jobs

First we'll discuss remodel or residential construction projects that are more than just one or two rooms. In this context, a large drywall job is one that requires more than 75 sheets of drywall. Most drywall contractors will price these jobs based on their standard square footage rate. It is important to remember that the square footage rate is based on the square footage of drywall needed to cover every surface, not the square footage of floor space in a home. For example, a house with 2,000 square feet of floor space and eight foot high ceilings may require anywhere between 8,000 and 9,000 square feet of drywall. The amount of surface to be covered with drywall depends on the layout of rooms and number of interior walls.

When estimating large residential construction projects, the first thing many contractors do is determine how many sheets of drywall will be needed for the entire project. Contractors have various methods of estimating total sheet count, but for the average person the most accurate way is to measure all the walls and ceilings and figure the total square footage of the area to be covered with drywall.

What about windows and door openings?

When measuring surfaces to determine how much drywall is needed, it is usually best to include areas for windows and doors in the sheet count. There will be some scrap waste from window and door openings but you need to buy the same amount of drywall regardless. Unless the opening takes up a significant portion of the surface in question (50% for example), it is best to just leave it in the estimate.

Example of estimating drywall for a single room

15' by 15' room with 8'ceilings
Wall A 15'x8'=120ft2
Wall B 15'x8'=120ft2
Wall C 15'x8'=120ft2
Wall D 15'x8'=120ft2
Ceiling 15'x15'=225ft2
Total Square Footage 705ft2

Drywall Sheet Count Calculator

You can use our drywall sheet count calculator to estimate the number of sheets needed for your project. It gives the option of either entering one room at a time or one wall at a time.

Multiply drywall square footage by the going rate

Once you have determined your sheet count and corresponding drywall square footage, you can multiply this by the contractor's square footage rate. You can use the total drywall square footage numbers to estimate both material and labor.

Costs of Material

For material costs only, you should expect to pay somewhere between 30 to 40 cents per square foot. Contractors may have negotiated discounts with local drywall supply stores or they may use The Home Depot® or Lowes® since these big box stores prices are very competitive, even compared to local material supply shops. You can plan on material costs somewhere between 35 to 38 cents per square foot. That includes not only the cost of the drywall but also the fasteners, glue, and other miscellaneous supplies. This may or may not include the cost of finishing materials.

Cost of Labor

The difference in a company's quoted price is generally more dependant on it's labor costs than material costs. There is a large range in labor costs from one company to another based on it's structure and ability. Labor prices also vary from state to state and city to city. Prices for labor only of both hanging and taping drywall can range from 45 cents per square foot to 100 cents per square foot. You should expect to pay more in labor for rooms with high ceilings, tricky angles, or decorative soffits. Don't expect to get these square footage rates for a one room job or small remodel. Most Contractors will not provide a quote based on their standard footage rates unless the job is more than seventy-five sheets. The example above of a 15' x 15' room, requiring only 16 or 17 sheets of drywall, would not receive the square footage quote unless it is part of a house with three or four rooms this size.

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How to estimate small drywall jobs?

In this context, small jobs refer to one room residential renovations such as patches or repairs, or kitchen or bathroom remodel projects. Most contractors will still break down their internal calculations of a project's cost between labor and materials. They will first determine the amount of material needed for the job and use this to figure their material costs, much like what is described above. However, when estimating labor costs, rather than simply multiplying a square footage rate with the amount of material needed, they will estimate how many days (or man hours) it will take to finish the project. This is, of course, a very objective decision that more or less comes down to a guess made by the contractor based on his previous experience.

What you can keep in mind when examining a contractor's quote is that each journeyman tradesman will expect to make between $200 and $300 per day. Less skilled helpers will not make the same wage but they will expect at least ten to fifteen dollars per hour depending on wages in the local area. Because of these expectations, a small remodel job will quote at a much higher square footage rate than an entire house.

For example, the work cited above requires only 16 to 17 sheets of drywall. However, it would take at least three days of labor to hang, tape and texture this one room project. Using a square foot rate of $1 per square foot, this job would only costs $705 for both, labor and material. Material costs being about $300 would leave only $400 for labor. For a journeyman who does good quality work, $400 is not going to be quite enough. Depending on the style of texture and other features, this project will probably cost between $900 and $1,000.

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Get more than one quote.

In all cases it is good practice to do research on companies and get more than one quote. If you are not familiar with going rates in the local area, a minimum of three quotes will give you a good idea of what is fair. More important than simply trying to find the cheapest price, speaking with more than one company has other benefits. It allows you to learn things about your project that you may not have considered before. One company may recommend something that another company did not include. Also, by speaking to more than one company you get a feel for who may be more reliable. The best contractor may not always be the cheapest but his experience will help you avoid unnecessary hassle and headache.

Use good judgment when deciding who to hire as it can make a big difference in the details of the finished product. Checking references from friends and others is a good way to judge a company. A company's reputation is best appreciated after they finish a project and hard to grasp beforehand. Therefore, it is good to talk to those who have used the company in question to understand what the entire experience will be including the quality of the final product.

Conclusion

In summary, for material and labor you can expect to pay from 75 to 140 cents per square foot of drywall used. The cost may be more for very high ceilings and difficult features. For smaller jobs that are less than 70 sheets, expect $200 to $300 per journeyman worker per day plus the cost of material. Of course, the information above is given as general guidelines to understand common methods for estimating drywall costs. It is no guarantee of a specific contractor's price. Individual contractors have their own ways of estimating costs that may be different from what is described here.

If you are looking to find out how many sheets are needed for an upcoming project, try our drywall estimating calculator. Unlike other estimating calculators on the internet, our calculator mimics the way drywall jobs are measured in the field. It lays out sheets one at a time to come up with a sheet count estimate. It assumes all studs are 16 inch on center and staggers the upper and lower sheets as would be done the real world. It will even tell you what drywall scraps will be left over. If you need to find out approximately how many sheets are needed for a particular project, this is the perfect tool.

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