Perfecting Drywall Application in Cold Weather

The days of plaster and lathe were pretty much gone as soon as drywall came along and builders discovered they could finish walls very quickly, without waiting for plaster to dry.  Today’s drywall gives a smoother, cleaner surface, and it is much easier for the DIY  homeowner to install… especially if you have the right materials and right conditions (humidity and temperature) to take full advantage of one of the finer features of drywall; the tapered edges. As manufactured today, the long edges of drywall are slightly tapered so that when two sections of drywall are joined (tapered end to tapered end), it will create enough of a recess to accommodate drywall tape or mud, otherwise known as joint compound, as a finishing material, filling that space and creating a seamless join.  Cold weather and winter conditions can affect the way you can work with drywall. If you want your drywall job finished properly, (and who doesn’t?) we have a couple of recommendations for you that specifically refer to interior walls, partitions and ceiling drywall installation.

Recommendations:

1) Thickness – Half-inch drywall panels are pretty much the standard thickness for interior walls. However, when installing drywall on a ceiling, you may want to use half-inch or even 5/8” inch thick panels to prevent sagging. Sagging can become a problem even with extra fasteners, and any texturization (Popcorn anyone?) or other types of heavy surfacing material can add to the weight problem. So… what you need to remember is, when you’re working against gravity… think thick.

2) Curvature – There is also a much thinner drywall, 1/4″ inch thick. While not appropriate for the more robust requirements of a ceiling installation, this drywall is excellent for installation on slightly curved surfaces. If a tighter curve is required, you can try slightly dampening (damp… not wet!) the surface to make it more flexible. If you are working toward an extreme curve, like an arch, 1/4″ thick drywall can be scored about every half inch to achieve the desired effect. An added benefit to this method is that the more scores there are on the back, the fewer ridges there will be on the front that you have to cover with finishing material.

3) Code Standard – Thicker drywall, up to 3/4″ inch thick is also available and it’s typically referred to as “fire resistant drywall.” It may be that rooms such adjacent to garages or other potential sources of combustion are required to have fire resistant drywall, according to your local building code. Where a vapor retarder is required, use foil-backed gypsum board, vapor retarder faced mineral wool or faced-glass fiber insulation batts. When a polyethylene vapor retarder film is installed on ceilings behind gypsum board it is important to install the ceiling insulation before the gypsum board. Failure to follow  this procedure can result in moisture condensation on the backside of the gypsum board, which will cause the board to sag

4) Humidity – The interior temperature of your application site shouldn’t be any colder than 50 degrees for at least 48 hours before taping and finishing. This will allow the drywall to be completely… well… dry.  This means that you should start your 48 hour countdown only after any texturing or priming has been applied  and the previous coating has dried completely.

5) Temperature – If you use a setting type joint compound in cold weather you can can avoid many cold weather related problems. And, of course, the use of warming bags, and wraps for all your ready-mixed joint compounds and textures will protect them from freezing in storage and make all these materials more fluid and easy to apply.  It should be no surprise that we believe products like CaulkWarmer are perfect for this part of any cold-temperature drywall installation. If you absolutely MUST use a localized temporary heat source, the temperature should not exceed 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) in any given room or area, and heaters should not be allowed to blow directly on wall surfaces because excessive localized heating can cause joint compound to dry too rapidly resulting in cracking and localized delamination

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