Turning to the professionals for drywall updates

Painting and wallpapering are popular DIY home improvement projects, but they can quickly become complicated if your walls aren’t in good shape. For most homes, that means your drywall needs to be a flat, even canvas that will easily accept your new paint or wallpaper.

“DIY projects can be a lot of fun but, honestly, drywall is a lot harder than it looks,” said Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks. “It’s heavy material, takes lots of tools. It’s really best left to the professionals.”

Even small drywall repair jobs can get messy and complicated but those jobs can be DIY’d – especially if you’re handy – but finishing a basement or other room with no drywall in place or installing new drywall to repair damaged walls is another story.

“The reason why it’s not a good DIY job is that if you don’t know what you are doing it’s going to look pretty bad in the end product,” drywall contractor Robert Morrison said. “A professional knows how to install it especially like a whole house. If you go to try to do a whole house, a whole basement, it could take you days. [A] professional could do a house this size in a day, him and a couple of other guys.”

Hanging the drywall, which can weigh 80 pounds and generally takes a 3–person crew, is just step 1 of a 4–step process. Next comes mudding, taping and sanding, all very detailed and necessary to provide a flat, even surface.

“For a 12×14 room it will take a professional about 3 or 4 hours to hang a room that size and a few days to finish it and get it ready for paint. For a 12×14 room — a DIY project — it could probably turn into weeks, if not a month, pretty quickly,” said Andy Ferguson, another drywall contractor.

If you do want to DIY this project, Angie suggests you evaluate whether you have the time and the tools to do it right. The average homeowner may not have some of the tools needed to get the job done right and may not need them again after the job is done.

“Do you have a hawk? Do you have a mud pan? Do you have a putty knife laying around your house? I know I don’t. Those are all different types of tools you are going to use even for a small drywall job. If you are drywalling an entire room, it’s going to be even more materials. That’s why this is a job that when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, is really probably best priced out by a professional,” Hicks added.

Angie’s List says the cost of a professional drywall installation job for a 12×14 room starts at about $200, with extra costs coming in for those follow–up steps.