Drywall 101

How much will it cost to Drywall my house?

For those not familiar with construction estimating, trying to create a budget for a remodel or new construction project can be a daunting task. The only option a person may have is to ask a contractor to quote them a price and even then they may have no idea of whether or not the price is fair. The information below should help the average person understand the cost of drywall work. Understanding the process of estimating drywall work may 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.

Estimating large drywall jobs

First let us discuss remodel or construction projects that are more than just one or two rooms, those requiring more than 50 sheets of drywall. Most contractors will price these based on their standard square footage rate. The first thing they will 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. Do not take out areas for windows and doors unless they are more than 50% of the area in question. You will have scrap waste from window and door areas but you need to buy the same amount of drywall regardless and cut out window openings and doorways.

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'x5'=225ft2
Total Square Footage 705ft2

You can then take your total square footage number for the entire job and multiply this by the contractor's square footage rate. Labor prices vary from state to state and city to city. Prices for both hanging and taping drywall labor can range from 40 cents per square foot to 80 cents per square foot not including material. 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 quote based on their standard footage rates unless the job is more than fifty 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.

Contractors have different square footage rates for labor based on their company and it's ability. For material costs only, you should expect an estimate of 30 to 33 cents per square foot. Contractors may have local area drywall supply stores from whom they order material. Some however chose to use "The Home Depot" or "Lowes" since these big box stores have prices very competitive to that of local material supply shops. Material supply shops may offer discounts to contractors to court their business, but there is quite a bit of competition in the market now so most prices for material average around 30 to 33 cents per square foot.

How do you estimate small drywall jobs?

Small jobs may refer to a kitchen or bathroom remodel, or any one room renovation. Most contractors will determine the amount of material needed for the job and then figure how many days it will take them to finish the project. This of course is a very objective decision that sometimes comes down to more or less a guess by the contractor based on his previous experience. What you should keep in mind is that each journeyman tradesman on the job will probably expect to make between $200 and $300 per day. Helpers who are not as skilled will not make the same wage but they will expect ten to fifteen dollars per hour. Because of these wage expectations, a small remodel job will quote at a much higher square footage rate than an entire house.

Get more than one quote.

In any situation it is good practice to do research on companies and get more than one quote. A minimum of three quotes on any one job will give you a good feeling for the local prices. More important than simply trying to find the cheapest price, speaking with more than one company allows you learn more about your project than you may have known to start. One company may recommend something that another company had not considered. Also, by speaking to more than one company you can get a feel for who may be more reliable. The best and most reliable contractor may not always be the cheapest but his experience may help you avoid unnecessary hassle and headache. Use your judgment when deciding who to hire as it can make a big difference in the details of the finished product. Using others' references 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 companies in question to see what their entire experience with these companies has been.

In summary, for material and labor you can expect to pay from 70 to 125 cents per square foot of area that needs to be covered with drywall, maybe more for very high ceilings and difficult features. For smaller jobs that are less than forty sheets expect $200 to $300 per journeyman worker per day plus the cost of material needed.

Try using our drywall estimating calculator. Unlike other estimating calculators out there, this one lays out sheets on the walls mimicking the way board would be hung in the field. It assumes all studs are 16 inch on center and stagers the upper and lower sheets as they should be staggered in the real world. If you need to find out approximately how many sheets are needed for a particular project, this is the perfect tool.