What does it cost to Drywall a house?
Estimating the cost to drywall a house involves many factors. This article discusses two different methods that can be used to estimate the cost of a drywall project. One approach can be used for large projects and another for small projects.
If a drywall project is large enough, typically those requiring more than 75 sheets of drywall, the type and expected quantity of materials needed can be used to approximate labor costs. This type of general calculation is usually sufficient to develop estimates for large projects. But these same calculations just can't be used when estimating small drywall projects.
- How to estimate large drywall jobs
- How to estimate small drywall jobs
- Make sure to get more than one quote
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 provide 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. If you understand the process of developing a cost estimate for a drywall project you will be more confident when accepting or rejecting a drywall contractor's quoted price. We will discuss two types of jobs, large drywall jobs and small patches or remodels.Top of Page
Estimating the cost of large drywall jobs
First we will discuss remodeling or residential construction projects that are more than just one or two rooms. In this context, a large drywall job is a project that requires more than 75 sheets of drywall. Most drywall contractors will price these jobs based on their standard square footage rate.
A contractor's square footage rate is usually based on the square footage of drywall needed to cover every surface. This is different than 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 the number of interior walls.
How do you estimate the square footage of Drywall needed?
Drywall square footage refers to how many square feet are covered with drywall on both walls and ceilings. For example, a sheet of drywall 4-foot by 12-foot will cover 48 feet2 of surface area. Therefore, for every 4-foot x 12-foot sheet of drywall, a contractor would add 48 square feet to his material estimates.
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. They may go through each room and count the number of sheets needed in total. They may do this either by physically walking through each room or by using blueprints to virtually walk through and measure a project.
Contractors have various methods of estimating total sheet count. But for the average person, the most accurate way to determine the total sheet count is to measure all the walls and ceilings and calculate the total square footage of the area to be covered with drywall.
Imagine you have a room that is 12-foot wide by 16-foot long and 9-foot tall. The two 12-foot long walls would need 108 ft2 of drywall and the 16-foot long walls would need 144 ft2 of drywall. The ceiling would require another 192 ft2 of drywall. So in total for this room, you would need to estimate about 444 ft2 of 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 total sheet count. While it is true that these openings will not be covered with drywall, you will need to purchase about the same amount of drywall regardless. When you are done, you will simply have some leftover scraps to throw away.
Openings for windows and doors take a little extra labor anyway so the time spent on these areas needs to be considered in the overall cost estimates. 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|
|Total Square Footage||705ft2|
If you are interested in a tool that can help you estimate the number of sheets needed for a project, please try out our drywall sheet count calculator. You can build a project one room at a time or one wall at a time. It uses some of the same principles discussed here to estimate how many sheets you will need in total. It even estimates how much scrap material will be left over when you are done.
Why is it good to estimate the scrap material for a project
There is no avoiding the fact that you will have quite a bit of scrap drywall left over when you finish a project. Scraps must be disposed of in a landfill or at a local transfer station. Knowing how much scrap material you will have helps you determine whether to order a dumpster or just use your truck to haul it away.
Multiply drywall square footage by the going rate
Once you have determined the total sheet count, and thus the total square footage of drywall needed, you can multiply this by a contractor's square footage rate. The total drywall square footage numbers can be used to estimate both material and labor costs.
For example, if you find that your house will require 150 sheets of 4-foot x 12-foot drywall, you know you will need about 7,200 ft2 of drywall (48 ft2 * 150 sheets = 7,200 ft2). If a contractor charges $1.30 per square foot for labor and material, you can figure your project is going to cost about $9,360.
Costs of Material
For material costs alone, you should expect to pay somewhere between 45 to 60 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.
Material costs of somewhere between 45 to 60 cents per square foot should include not only the cost of the drywall itself 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 from one company to another in what they charge is usually more evident in labor costs than material costs. There is a large range in labor costs due to differences in company structure, overhead, and the skill level of employees. Labor prices also vary quite a bit from state to state and city to city.
Labor prices for both hanging and taping drywall can range anywhere from 60 cents per square foot to 120 cents per square foot. Prices can vary a lot depending on the difficulty level of the job. You should expect to pay more in labor for rooms with high ceilings, lots of angles, decorative soffits, and other architectural features.
Don't expect to get the same square footage rates for a one-room job or a small remodel. Most Contractors will not provide quotes based on their standard footage rates unless the job is more than 75 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.Top of Page
How to estimate small drywall jobs?
Small drywall jobs can refer to one-room residential renovations, simple 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.
Just like with large drywall jobs, the first step is to determine how much material is needed for the job and use this to estimate their material costs. The method for doing so is very similar to what is described above for large projects.
However, the square footage of material cannot be used to calculate labor costs when only a small number of total sheets are needed. For small jobs, a contractor will usually estimate how many days (or man hours) it will take to finish the project. Of course, this is a very objective decision that more or less comes down to a guess based on the contractor's previous experience.
For example, if a job requires only 17 sheets of 4-foot x 12-foot drywall, that would only add up to about 816 ft2 of drywall. Even at $1.30 per square foot, a contractor probably could not do the job for $1,060. It would take at least three days of labor to hang, tape and texture this one-room project.
Material costs being around $425 - $500, that would only leave $500 for labor. For a journeyman who does good quality work, $500 is not going to be quite enough. Depending on the style of texture and other features, this project will probably cost upwards of $1,200 to $1,400.
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 15 to 20 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.Top of Page
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. Finding a trustworthy and capable company is more important than simply getting the cheapest price.
Talking to different companies 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. By speaking to more than one company you get a chance to observe their business approach and make an estimate about their reliability. The best contractor may not always be the cheapest but his experience will help you avoid unnecessary hassle and headache. It may even save you money in the long run.
A company's reputation is best appreciated after they finish a project. The way they follow up on challenges faced during the project speaks volumes. It is difficult to know exactly how a company will perform if you have never used them before. Therefore, it is good to talk to others who have experience with the company you are investigating to get a feel for what the entire experience will be including the quality of the final product.
In summary, for material and labor you can expect to pay from 105 to 180 cents per square foot of drywall used. You may have to pay more if your project includes very high ceilings and/or difficult architectural features. For small jobs that are less than 75 sheets, expect $200 to $300 per journeyman worker per day plus the cost of the materials.
Of course, the information above is provided as general guidelines for understanding common methods of estimating drywall costs. It is no guarantee of a specific contractor's price. Individual contractors have methods of estimating costs that may be different from what is presented here.
Drywall 101 has several apps designed to help you estimate material and costs for your upcoming project. Check out some of the following:
If you are looking for a way to estimate how many sheets are needed for an upcoming project, try our drywall sheet count estimator app. Unlike other sheet count calculators on the internet, our app mimics the way drywall jobs are measured in the field. It lays out sheets one at a time to come up with a true-to-life sheet count estimate.
It assumes all studs are 16 inches on center and staggers the upper and lower sheets as would be done in 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.
If you need to estimate the number of drywall screws or nails to purchase, try the drywall fastener count estimator app It uses information from the International Building codes to estimate the number of fasteners needed per sheet of drywall for your project.
If you are looking to estimate how much the drywall for your project will weigh, please try our drywall weight estimator app. It is helpful to know the total weight of drywall needed so you can plan transportation options. If you are picking up the drywall yourself, you may want to estimate what it will weigh just to make sure your truck can handle the load.