5 Reasons Not to Install Drywall on Your Own in Your Finished Basement

cost to install drywall when finishing your basementOk, so you've made it through the major phases of finishing a basement.  How do you know when you're ready to start the drywall stage for your finished basement?

Have you passed both your framing and electrical inspections?  If the answer is yes, then you're ready for drywall. If not, you still have some work to do.  Don't do it, don't skip the inspections!

Installing drywall in your basement is bitter-sweet. On the one hand you're finally turning the corner from working on your basement to finishing your basement. On the other hand, all of your masterful framing, plumbing and electrical accomplishments are about to be covered up forever.

When I was getting close to the drywall stage of my basement finishing project I had a ton of questions:

  • How much is installing drywall in my basement going to cost?
  • What thickness of drywall should I buy?
  • Do I install drywall in the basement bathroom?  Or do I need some sort of special waterproof sheet rock?
  • People told me that hanging drywall is super dusty.  How dusty?  What do I have to do to prep?
  • How long will it take to install it.
  • How heavy is a sheet of drywall?  Can I lift a sheet on my own?
  • What drywall tools and books do I need if I'm going to do it myself?

I'm going to write about all of the questions above but the big question to start with is...

installing drywall in my finished basement

Drywall installed in my basement family room. The framed column turned out great!

Should I Install Drywall For My Basement On My Own?

Or, should I hire a drywall contractor.  So let's get deep.  Deep into some drywall discussation.  Yeah, I made up a new word, I'll let you use it for free…. For now.

Let's talk about staggered drywall butt joints and the best off-seam taping patterns.

Or...  let's not.

Look.  I'm as gung-ho as they come when talking about home improvement but the numbers for installing all of your own drywall work just didn't add up for me and I suspect that they won't add up for you either.

5 Reasons to Hire Someone to Install Your Basement Drywall

First, I could not get the same pricing on drywall sheets that my drywall guy was getting.
He just bought a ton more drywall than I ever would and he had relationships with the best and most cost effective suppliers.

Second, I did not have any drywall tools.
There are multiple taping knife's, giant T measuring thingies, tape dispensers, pointing tools, mud buckets, you name it. It's different from buying tiling tools, which I did do, because I know I will use those again. I wasn't sure if I would ever use drywall tools again.

Third, I didn't have a willing or knowledgeable partner to assist me. 
Yes, technically it's possible to drywall by yourself but you would have to buy a drywall lift for the ceiling sheets and a couple of other support tools which of course add even more to the cost.  None of my friends had ever drywalled before and they had zero enthusiasm when I asked if they wanted to learn with me.

Fourth - I didn't want to wait.
I had been working on the basement for months. I knew I still had months to go after the drywall phase. I wanted to speed things up a bit and I didn't relish the thought of spending 8 to 10 weekends just on drywall.

Fifth - I was a afraid to screw up.
I had all of this beautiful framing and electrical work in place.  If I went and botched my finished basement drywall job - it would all be for not.

Yes, I know, I preach on this website a lot to not worry about screwing up. But in this case, I wasn't even sure if I would know if I'd screwed it up until well after the first coat of paint went up.

I did several hours of Google searching and more than a few people were not happy with their first attempt at installing drywall. I just couldn't afford risking all that time and money only to be unhappy with the results.

Installing Drywall is My Destiny

Look, I know what you're thinking...  "Jason is really wimping out on me here. I'm doing my own. I don't care how long it takes. I've made it this far and I'm not about to let someone come in here and rob me of my drywall destiny."

Fair enough, just make sure you know what you're getting into. If this is your destiny, and I am your basement Yoda, then I want you to be prepared. Here's a great website about hanging drywall.  It has a zillion tips on how to do it right.

Personally my drywall installation crew was outstanding. In the end I think I ended up paying (maybe) a couple hundred bucks more than if I had tried to install it myself. Maybe. It really could have been a break-even situation.

basement finishing jason 205

They finished installing the drywall in my 1300 square foot basement in 10 days. They did 3 finish coats of mud and it was ready to be primed and painted. (which I did myself, more on that to come)

So who's tackled their own drywall out there? How did it go? What are your experiences with drywall contractors?  Do you plan to install your own drywall? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers - Jason

If you decide to hire someone to install your drywall be sure to check-out my e-book on how to hire a great contractor.

More Drywall Stuff:

One of my top tips for saving money on your finished basement involves the drywall stage and it's the second or third email in the newsletter series.  You can sign up for the free newsletter, right here.

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Questions and Comments

Click here to ask a question or leave a comment.

    • says

      Hello Keith - My bad, I was working on the page for the new book and it broke the old page for a about a day. I sent you an email, check it out and let me know. The page is back up and should be working.


  1. Adam says

    Hey Jason how did you find the guys who did your drywall, just a google search? Any recommended ways of finding people?

  2. Ken says

    So, was that $2600 price just the labor to hang and finish, or did it include materials as well?

    BTW, great website Jason!

    • Rick says

      $2600.....labor & materials????
      10 days for the drywall contractor.....
      How much did the Sheetrock, screws, mud & tape cost?.......let's say $400
      If 2 guys did the job over 10 days........they worked for $120 a day each????
      Jesus.......maybe the cost of living is VERY low where you live....or they are rich & do it for fun!
      In NJ, a decent contractor is $300-$500 a day

      • says

        Hi Rick - Jesus had nothing to do with it, at least not directly, if anything he would have done the framing. You have to remember that for days 3 - 10 they only worked at my house for about 2 hours. The mud has to dry between coats for 24 hours - so there's only so much they can do. On an daily basis they probably are in the $350 a day range. They were working on about 4 different jobs that week.

        Look, I realize that was an extremely good price and I can't promise that's what everyone will get. But I know this, you have to do some digging. You need to ask around. Don't take the first contract that walks through the door. If you'll do the work up front, you can save a lot of money and get a great result.

        - Jason

  3. Ian Parris says

    As a professional drywall finisher I have done a lot of jobs where the customer has done the boarding themselves but want me to tape and finish it. First of this is a big mistake. There is way more to it than covering the walls and ceilings with board. Knowing where to put your joints is a huge step In a proper job. Second, having nice tight joints with minimal gaps reduces the amount of mud needed to finish properly. And lastly, people often try to save money on board by piecing in scrap bits rather than using a fresh sheet of board. Saving $20 on a sheet of board can cost you lots more on the finish and it will not turn out as well. So in the end just hire a pro it will save on money and the finished product will look better and last longer.

    • says

      Ian - Great points! I couldn't agree more. People - don't cover up your awesome framing and electrical work with a bad drywall job in your basement. Higher the pros for this phase. - Jason

  4. Andy says

    I'm also in the Chicago suburbs and just starting to work up the courage to finish my basement. Is there anyway to share the contact info for your drywall contractor?

  5. Cesar says

    Hey Jason,

    Awesome site, although I may have found it a bit too late. I'm near the finish line with my basement. Just need to caulk, paint, install switch plates and doorknobs.

    When I got to the drywall stage, I decided to hang it myself with the help of a friend. He had all the tools and know-how, and since I was aware of what a bear it would be, I paid him for his time. The original quote for hanging and mudding 650 sq ft. was about $1500 in King George, VA for labor and materials. To just mud it was about half that. I retrospect, I think it would have been better to just pay the contractor to do both, since it took a lot longer and was actually more money (because I paid my friend) to do it myself. In the end, I couldn't schedule the original contractor and had to go with another. The cost? $1450 with materials for just finish and mud. Lesson learned!

  6. Dee says

    Hi Jason,

    Approximately how would you say it would cost to drywall a basement, 1300sqft, 2 rooms, 1 bathroom..total of apprx 250 ft of linear walls? Im talking hanging, finishing, sanding, and ready for paint. Thanks in advance

    • says

      Hello Dee - I hate giving this estimate because there are so many variables - but I sympathize with wanting to know a ballpark figure - so here goes. 1300 sq ft. Hanging, finishing, sanding and ready for paint... 2500-3000. Here some factors that affect that estimate - cost of drywall (it change a lot over time, sometimes up sometimes down), cost of labor, 8' or 12' boards, numbers of doors, can they fit 12' sheets into your basement (walk in, walk down basement yes, no exterior door - probably not). Hope that helps - Jason

  7. Dmitry says

    Hi all,
    Spent entire evening figuring out whether to drywall myself or to outsource. My experience is frustrating: 1 contractor didn't show up after and estimate, 2 others gave 2x price, comparing to the phone price (that was $6K for 700 sq ft 2 bed 1 bath basement), the last one was complete idiot - asked the house dimensions to figure out the project size.

    I'm desperate. Apart from insane prices I feel that those whom I interviewed will work having quick money in mind, not caring about results. I'm in North NJ. Any advice on finding a good drywaller?

  8. Derek says

    I made a huge mistake. I was so shocked by the price I couldn't believe it. I live in Wisconsin, I received to quotes to hang, mud, and texture. They ranged from 3150 to 3300. My handy brother's in law said they could help. So we purchased 5/8 thick 4x8 sheets and went to work... Granted there are a couple spots that are not perfect. but all in all it went fast... SO NOW, I went to go get a quote on the taping and mud portion. including texture. (just sand texture) The quotes are 2450 and 2300... my basement consists of bathroom, bedroom and family room. totaling 720 sq feet.



    • says

      !!! I'm with your Derek. The taping, mudding and sanding is the hardest part, hence most of the money of the quote. Listen to us people! Beers not drywall. - Jason

  9. Ben says

    Nice website, good tips & story (Jesus would have framed it, HA!).

    I finished my basement a few months after moving into a new-ish house (7 yr old at the time). I've got a LOT of carpentry & DIY experience, so I wasn't intimidated about anything.... except finishing the drywall. I think hanging drywall is fun - kinda like a great big, easy puzzle. When you get going it looks like you're really making progress and fast. And if you're going to do it, just rent a lift. Once you get the hang of it they're kinda fun too.

    FYI – lightweight ½” drywall is a piece of cake to hang on the walls. 5/8” on the ceiling isn’t much fun. Especially if you’re a one man show and working with 12’ pieces. Least fun was hanging 2 layers of 5/8” on all surfaces. Extra-least fun was screwing heavy duty 2.5” screws through 2 layers of 5/8” into studs instead of hat-track. By the end of that I was afraid to shake hands with anyone with my new Popeye forearms and accidentally give them the Bam-Bam treatment.

    But I HATE finishing. H-A-T-E. To the main point of this article, finishing is a great stage to potentially ruin all your hard work. With expedience. I’ve finished enough that I do it myself. But this time I asked an “expert” for tips to avoiding bubbles & pock-marks. FWIW, the orange apron guy officially doesn’t count as an expert. He said the way to easy sanding, no shrinking & cracks, and avoiding bubbles was dry-mix. Worst. Idea. Ever. Maybe the guys who live finishing can make it make sense, but I’ll recommend to every DIYer to just go with the premix, add water and mix until a not-too-loose consistency is made, and start spreading.

    Lifesaver in this stage? Rent the power sander. No, not a palm sander like for wood. But the one that hooks up to your shop vac and has a 12” (?) round head attached to what looks like a long arse shop vac wand. Saves TONS of time, neck & should aches, and cuts down on the dust immensely. Easy to get the hang of, too

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