What does it cost to Drywall a house?
Estimating the cost of drywalling a house involves many factors. We are going to focus on two different approaches that can be used. One for large and one for small projects. If a project is large enough to cross a certain threshold of material and labor requirements, general calculations based off material count can usually be used. But the same calculations just can't be applied to smaller 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 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 make you better equipped 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.Top
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.
A contractor's square footage rate is usually 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.
How do you estimate the square footage of Drywall needed?
Drywall square footage refers to the how many square feet are covered with drywall on both walls and ceilings. For example, a sheet of drywall 4' by 8' will cover 48 feet2 of surface area. Therefore, for every 4' x 8' 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 is to measure all the walls and ceilings and figure the total square footage of the area to be covered with drywall.
Imagine you have a room that is 12' wide by 16' long and 9' tall. The two 12' long walls would need 108 ft2 of drywall and the 16' 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 the drywall won't cover these openings, 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 enter either 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 reality that you will have quite a bit of scrap drywall left over when you finish a project. Scraps must be disposed of in landfill or at a local transfer station. Knowing how much scrap material you will have helps you know 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' x 12' drywall, you know you will need about 7,200 ft2 of drywall (48 ft2 * 150 sheets = 7,200, ft2). If a contractor charges $1.00 per square foot for labor and material, you can figure your project is going to cost about $7,200.
Costs of Material
For material costs alone, you should expect to pay somewhere between 35 to 45 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 35 to 38 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 related to labor costs than material costs. There is a large range in costs in the market due to company structure, overhead, and abilities. Labor prices vary from state to state and city to city.
Labor prices for both hanging and taping drywall can range anywhere from 45 cents per square foot to 100 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 small remodel. Most Contractors will not provide quotes 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.
How to estimate small drywall jobs?
Small drywall jobs can refer to one room residential renovations, simple patches or repairs, or kitchen / 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, square footage rates cannot be used based on material 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 require only 16 or 17 sheets of drywall, that would only add up to about 816 ft2 of drywall. Even at $1.00 per square foot, a contractor probably couldn't do the job for $800-$900. It would take at least three days of labor to hang, tape and texture this one room project.
Material costs being around $300 - $350, that would leave less than $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 upwards of $1,100 to $1,300.
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 twelve to sixteen 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.
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.
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. Also, 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.
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 understandably difficult to know exactly how a company will perform. 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.
In summary, for material and labor you can expect to pay from 90 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.
Estimate Board Count
If you are looking for a way to estimate 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.
Estimate Fastener Count
If you need to estimate the the number of drywall screws or nails to purchase, try out Drywall Fastener Count Estimator It uses information from the International Building codes to estimate the number of fasteners needed per sheet of drywall for your project.
Estimate Drywall Weight
If you are looking to estimate how much the drywall for your project will weigh, please try our Drywall Weight Estimating Calculator. It is helpful know 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 check the weight to know how your truck will handle the load.