Let's start with the basic eight-foot sheet of drywall. Most drywall contractors apply drywall horizontally however I have seen some contractors working with metal stud framing install 10 foot sheets of drywall vertically.
The reasons for installing the 10 foot sheets of drywall up and down or vertically in this situation are quite simple. There is no structural strength required in these walls because they are simply partitions dividing rooms and usually the drywall only needs to be finished up to 9 feet. This is the only time I have seen drywall ran vertically.
In a wood framed house the drywall actually adds a little sheer value to the home itself.
The manufacturer suggests installing eight-foot sheets of drywall horizontally. The horizontal application of drywall means installing the 4 foot side of the drywall up and down and the eight-foot side of the drywall side to side.
What is the reason for installing the 4 x 8 sheets horizontally?
When it comes to finishing the drywall the 4 foot seams that run up and down or vertical will not be as noticeable as a seam running up and down the entire wall. If you haven't read one of my last articles on eye level window setting then let me give you a brief eye level education.
A person 5'8" in height will be more apt to notice things between 4'6" off the ground and 6'6" off the ground. If we ran the drywall vertical there is a good chance the eyes would be able to pick up any finishing flaws in the drywall. Running the drywall horizontally will just put us a little out of range from the lower eye level of 4 foot six with our finish.
Another reason for installing the drywall horizontally is there is a good chance your eyes would be able to pick up four foot lines in the wall going from floor to ceiling quite easily. On older homes you will see lines in the ceilings about every 24 inches. This is because the plaster or drywall ceilings is starting to sag in between the ceiling joist.
These lines are difficult to do anything about once the drywall is finished. The only alternative you would have is to remove the ceiling and re-drywall and finish it.
Drywall ran vertically will tend to crack easier than staggered drywall ran horizontally. The four foot section of drywall is stronger than the 8 foot section. If you stagger your drywall breaks every four feet this will increase the strength of your wall as well.
Try not to break the drywall at any door openings. The door openings seem to crack easily from the corners working their way towards the ceiling. Let the drywall run over the doorway and then cut the doorway out leaving the rough door opening during wallboard installation.
If you have ever seen a house that was drywalled by a professional crew the waste is unbelievable. The reason for this is simply that the drywall contractor does not want to come back and patch cracks in the walls three or four years after he is done. It can be quite labor intensive installing scrap pieces of drywall versus using larger sheets to cover the same area.
Don't forget and always remember that. Horizontal installation of drywall is recommended by the manufacturer.
Greg Vanden Berge is working on the internet to promote the education for creating simple to follow guides and home building books to help professional building contractors as well as the weekend warriors. He is currently working on more Building and Remodeling Library and adding useful content to help solve problems created by the lack of construction knowledge in the building industry.