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Reader Bob The Drywall Guy suggested GridMarX as a great alternative to building a laser grid to keep your nails on the studs. Although I have to say that a DIY laser grid is a totally Toolmonger thing to do, I admit that using drywall with a preprinted grid sounds a lot easier.

Here’s the catch, though: I don’t see any pricing. Cost might be a big issue, so I’ll make a suggestion and then put the question to all of you. I’ve used tape on the floor and ceiling to mark studs, and then a chalkline to cut down on the guessing in the middle. Is that the best solution?

How else can a Toolmonger keep his nails on the straight and narrow without spending a bundle? Let us know in comments.

GridMarX [National Gypsum]


12 Responses to Reader Question: Keeping Nails On The Studs

  1. Tim B. says:

    Hmmm.. this might work well if all your pieces are full pieces, or close to it, maybe… but if you end up trying to make the most of your materials, this might not be too much of a help…

    Having just finished re-structuring the walls (and drywalling, of course), the two methods I found to be quickest were to make a single quick mark on either floor or ceiling (ceiling, preferably), and then either project a line with my uber-cheap ($5 Rubbermaid!) laser-projecting bubble level, or use a plumb-bob w/ a thumb tack, then screw accordingly! Either method, once you get in the groove, really is quite easy. Out of all the walls I did, not a single ‘miss’.

  2. Davo says:

    Yes…what I did, actually, was mark the center of the studs, at the top, and bottom, then used the cheapo Harbor Freight lasers for the vertical line, and the stick-on Black & Decker with level bubbles for the horizontals…it worked great, and looked really cool while I was doing it.

    Another alternative would be to draw your own grid on the drywall itself, before you hang it, but the problem I see with that is that the map is not the territory…sometimes a wall corner is not perfectly square or vertical, and the sheetrock doesn’t fit perfectly, like you think it will, which means your marks are going to be off, just by a fraction of an inch.

  3. Eric says:

    The most efficient and effective method I’ve seen in fastening drywall to studs accurately is the chalk line method J.R. mentioned in his post. Whether you use screws or nails (ugh), it’s fast, feasible for odd cuts like bulkheads, and simple.

  4. dan says:

    Here is what I did. I took a string and tied a nail to one side and about 5 nails to the other. Tap the one nail side in to the stud at the top of the wall a half inch or so and let it hang. The stud is under the string. Just put the screw in the wall under the string and use the driver to move aside the string, drive, and repeat. When that line is done, pull out the nail and go on to the next one.

  5. Shaun says:

    I was putting up some sheetrock in the basement recently. I hung the sheetrock horizontally. I found that one of those 4′ long sheetrock t-squares was fast and easy to keep me lined up. There were a few awkard spots when it didn’t fit where I wanted it though.

  6. fred says:

    Eric: “Whether you use screws or nails (ugh)”

    You say ugh because you’re thinking hammer and old drywall nails.
    We do a lot of commercial rocking over steel studs and use ET&F nail guns
    – mostly model 610 – but have a few 510’s for denzglass.

    Try one you’ll like them

  7. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    I got a shout out! Woot! I’ll bug a few suppliers for pricing on the gridmarx.

    Fred you use an air nailer on drywall?? into steel stud? You americans get all the neat toys!

    If you’re laying your sheets horizontally, mark your studs on the ceiling and floor, then install your upper sheet first. You’ll leave a cleaner job if you have factory edges to the ceiling. Tack the sheet off using your marks on the ceiling, and you can see the stud below the sheet. once the perimeter is tacked, starting from the bottom, fasten the sheet from the bottom up, 2 or 3 across the middle. Now when you install the bottom sheet, you’ve got your mark on the floor, and the line created by your upper column of screws to guide you down the sheet.

  8. Bob The Drywall Guy says:

    If you’re laying your sheets vertically, there’s a trick. You want your sheet either standing against a wall, or laying down but at a comfortable height, put your pencil against the end of your tape, hold your tape against the edge of the sheet, and measure out to the width of your stud (minus about 1/8′). draw your tape, with your pencil , down the length of the sheet. It takes a couple months of practice to be dead accurate, and then able to cut drywall like that, but you should be able to keep within your 1.5″ of your stud with the pencil.

    Though, I’m not going to say you can’t use lasers 🙂
    infact http://www.wickedlasers.com/ might have one that could cut drywall… keep an extinguisher on hand…

  9. Blair says:

    I have to say I agree with Bob, once you get in the swing of things, lining up the screws becomes second nature. Even vertical pieces can be done this way, but putting a light chalk line on them isn’t a bad idea.

    As to Fred, I’ve not used the nailers on steel studs either, always self tapping screws, but sounds handy for bigger jobs. I don’t do much commercial work anymore, but sure sounds interesting!

  10. Jim German says:

    After drywalling my family room this weekend, I must say that I’m a big fan of just guessing where the studs are, and then cursing loudly every third screw when I miss the stud :-/

  11. Eric says:

    I wasn’t referring to the time involved in hammering nails. I’m just a threaded fastener snob 🙂

    Most of the commercial sites I’m on, the drywallers are using screws, but nailguns certainly aren’t uncommon for walls. I have yet to see someone nail drywall to hat track for a ceiling.

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