dry lining

Dry Lining Brick Walls – The Complete Guide

Dry lining is fixing plasterboard to walls, which, if done correctly, produces a nice smooth finish that you can decorate straight away.

There are two main ways to fix plasterboard to your wall:

​​​​1. Stick directly onto walls with adhesive

2. Nail/screw to a timber/steel frame attached to the walls

In this post I'll cover #1.

Cost

Time

Difficulty


Dry Lining Pros & Cons

Dry lining is well within the reach of a handy homeowner, as it doesn't require any specialist skills like you need for wet plastering. However, that doesn't mean it's a simple job for a novice. As any experienced builder will tell you, there are still plenty of gotchas that can trip you up when it comes to dry lining.

Fear not though, in this guide I will walk you through the process step-by-step, but first, let’s look at the pros & cons of dry lining when compared with wet plastering:

Pros

Cons

Faster to install, especially when stuck to walls using adhesive. I.e. the dot & dab method

Plasterboard may not support heavy items attached to the wall

No drying time required. This can save you weeks in waiting time

Boards can be fragile

Little moisture is introduced into your home

Boards can be expensive

Much easier to produce a smooth finish, which in turn makes decorating easy


Tools & Materials

Important safety tip – always wear safety goggles and a dust mask when carrying out this work. Also, remember to use gloves when handling plasterboard.

For Preparing And Fitting Plasterboard

Tools

  • check-square-o
    Tape measure and spirit level
  • check-square-o
    Chalk, marker pen, marker spray and pencil
  • check-square-o
    Knife with replaceable blades. I recommend using specialist plasterboard blades as these are quicker, safer and give you a cleaner cut
  • check-square-o
    Plasterboard rasp
  • check-square-o
    Combination square
  • check-square-o
    Plasterboard saw (for difficult cuts)
  • check-square-o
    Bucket for mixing adhesive
  • check-square-o
    Mixer (either standalone mixer or attachment for your power drill)
  • check-square-o
    Builder's float and pointing hawk
  • check-square-o
    Heavy batten to tap the board flat against the wall (a long piece of 50x100mm timber)
  • check-square-o
    Board lifter
  • check-square-o
    Step ladder

Materials

  • Plasterboard sheets (see common sizes in step 2 below)
  • Plasterboard adhesive
  • Masking tape

For Taping And Jointing

Tools

  • Bucket for mixing jointing compound
  • check-square-o
    Taping knife
  • check-square-o
    Scissors
  • check-square-o
    Decorators sponge
  • check-square-o
    Filling knife
  • Internal and External corner trowel

Materials

  • Jointing compound
  • Jointing Tape
  • 220-grit sanding block
  • check-square-o
    Paper-faced metal angle bead

Storage And Handling

Most plasterboards will come with a protective plastic coating, which should be left on until you're ready to carry out the work.

Store the boards in a dry environment and on a flat surface to prevent bowing. If the boards do get damp, wait until they've completely dried out before commencing with the job.

When it comes to handling the boards, always carry the boards on their edge to minimise the risk of damage.

It's also worth having a second pair of hands, as even the most experienced plasterers can damage boards when working alone. If you cannot get anybody to help, another option is to buy smaller boards that can be handled by one person. The trade off is cost (you must buy more boards) and time (you must fit more boards).


Preparing To Dry Line A Wall

To make sure your plasterboard is straight when it's on the wall, you need to mark guidelines on the walls and ceiling to help you align boards in the right place

Before you start, clean your wall and dampen it to remove any dust and dirt. 

Measure Board Widths

measure drywall
  • Measure the width of all four walls to work out how many vertically fixed boards you will need.
  • Start by first measuring away from a window opening. Place an off-cut of plasterboard against the window reveal and measure the full width across. Allow for an extra 10mm of adhesive that will fix the window sections to the reveal. Repeat for the other side of the window reveal.
  • Measure the width of the other three walls. Remember to allow for the thickness of the plasterboard (12.5mm) and ahesive (10mm) where ends butt up against each other.

Measure Ceiling Height

Measure your ceiling height and purchase plasterboard that will cover floor to ceiling with one board. Typical plasterboard sizes are as follows:

  • 2400x1200x12.5mm
  • 1800x900x12.5mm
  • 1220x900x12.5mm

Most UK ceilings are a standard height of 2.4m, so this shouldn't be a problem for the majority of homes. If it is, you may want to consider fixing the plasterboard horizontally.

Mark Vertical Plumb Line

plumb line for dry lining

Using a laser spirit level or plumb bob, mark a vertical plumb line from floor to ceiling. Extend the marks onto the ceiling and floor.

Draw Vertical Chalk Line

chalk line for dry lining

Draw a vertical chalk line down the marked plumb line. This line will act as your guide for the first board. Continue marking the board positions across your room.

Mark A Line Across The Ceiling

drywall ceiling line

Mark a line across the ceiling which is 25mm from the wall. I mark 25mm because this factors in 12.5mm for board thickness and another 12.5mm for adhesive.

As you start sticking boards to the wall, this line will help you keep the face of the boards level. 


Measuring And Cutting Plasterboard To Fit

For simple straight cuts, follow the four steps below. For more complicated cuts (e.g. around window sills), follow the three steps under ‘How to make difficult cuts’.

Make sure you have all your cuts ready before moving onto the fixing stage.

How To Make Simple Cuts

Measure And Mark 

mark drywall

Lay the sheet flat on the floor. Using the measurements you made previously, mark your dimensions on the board.

Cut Through Outer Paper Layer Only

cut drywall

Using a knife against a straightedge (e.g. steel ruler or spirit level) cut through the top paper layer, but no deeper. You may find that you have to run the knife over the cut line two or three times to achieve this, so don’t try to force it on the first attempt.

Break Cleanly Along The Cut Line

snap drywall

Lift the sheet off the floor and firmly push one side of the cut. You should find that it snaps cleanly along the line you cut.

Cut Through Paper Layer On The Other Side

cut drywall

Use the knife again to cut through the paper layer on the other side. If necessary, use a Plasterboard rasp to smooth any rough edges.

lightbulb-o

Pro Tip: Cut larger pieces first and then use off-cuts to fill gaps

How To Make Difficult Cuts

To produce a professional finish, it's essential that you make clean cuts in the plasterboard to fit around obstacles like window sills.

A Plasterboard saw is an ideal tool for making intricate cuts. Its pointed narrow blade can easily cope with awkward shapes, and its coarse teeth quickly goes through plasterboard.

In the example below, I go over how to make a slit in the plasterboard so that it can fit around a window sill. 

Measure Window Sill/Plasterboard Overlap 

measure drywall windows sill overlap

Make a mark on the wall where the width of the plasterboard sheet will end. Measure from the mark to the window sill edge by using a combination square and tape measure.

Mark Window Sill Height And Overlap On Plasterboard

measure window sill slit on plasterboard

Stand the plasterboard next to the windowsill so you can see the height at which the slit will need to be cut.

Mark the plasterboard sheet with the measurements you made. Add a little bit extra so you have room to play with. Note: You can fill any additional space after you have fitted your plasterboard..

Cut Windowsill Slit Out Of Plasterboard

cut plasterboard windowsill

Use a plasterboard saw to cut out the windowsill slit.

lightbulb-o

Pro Tips: Cutting Holes For Sockets

  1. Run red lipstick around the perimeter of your mounting box
  2. Hold and push the plasterboard in position against the outlet to leave a clear outline of where the socket will go
  3. Create a pilot hole in each corner of the outline
  4. Turn the board around and join up the holes with a pencil
  5. Cut the square with a plasterboard saw
cutting holes in drywall

Fitting Plasterboard

The seven steps below explain how to stick plasterboard directly to a brick wall using adhesive. Remember, plasterboard adhesive sets quickly, so it's a good idea to do just one area at a time.

lightbulb-o

Pro Tip: If your wall is uneven, attach timber studs to the walls and nail the plasterboard to the studs. If your wall is very uneven or in poor condition, attach a framework of timber studs before dry lining. 

Another benefit of using timber studs, is that it provides an opportunity to fit thermal insulation between the timber studs and plasterboard. You could also use sound-deadening plasterboard to make your wall soundproof.

To learn more about fixing plasterboard to stud walls, check out Dry Lining Stud Partition Walls - A Beginner's Guide

Mark Position Of Adhesive Dabs

drywall placement

Use a marker spray to mark the position of the adhesive dabs 400mm apart (or whatever the adhesive manufacturer's instructions advise).

Mix Plasterboard Adhesive

plasterboard adhesive mix

Mix your plasterboard adhesive according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It dries fast, so only mix enough for one wall.

Dabs Adhesive On Walls

dry lining adhesive

Using a builder's float and pointing hawk, put dabs of adhesive on the walls. The dabs should roughly be 250mm x 50mm and no thicker than 25mm.

There should be lines of dabs running from top to bottom of the wall, but don't bridge the joins between sheets of plasterboard.

Lift Plasterboard Into Place

positioning plasterboard

Lift your plasterboard into place so that it is in-line with the chalk lines on the wall and ceiling.

Tap Board Flat Against Wall

level plasterboard

Use a heavy batten to tap the board flat against the wall. A long piece of 50x100mm timber will be perfect to do this.

Check Board Is Level

check plasterboard level

Check the board is vertical with a spirit level. If not, adjust the board’s position before the adhesive dries.

Fit Board Tight Against Ceiling

drywall lifter

Make sure the board fits tight against your ceiling. If it doesn't, lift it up with a board lifter. Repeat for the other sheets of plasterboard.

Fitting Corners

You'll find that walls and corners are rarely straight. If you want a neat fit, you'll need to cut a plasterboard sheet to the shape of the wall.

Measure The Gap

  • Measure the gap between the top corner of the wall and the closest sheet of plasterboard
  • Make a small off-cut the same width as measured above

Trace The Corner Shape

cutting plasterboard corners
  • Position a sheet of plasterboard half the width of the off-cut away from the top corner of the wall. For example, if the off-cut is 500mm, place the sheet 250mm away from the top coner of the wall
  • Place one end of the off-cut against the top corner of the wall and the other end overlapping the sheet. In the example above, 250mm of the off-cut should be overlapping the sheet
  • Slowly move the off-cut down to the floor, while tracing the shape of the corner on the sheet while you go

Cut Along The Trace Line

plasterboard rasp
  • Cut along the trace line you made. You should now have one side of the plasterboard matching the shape of the wall
  • Use a plasterboard rasp to neaten the edge

Fitting Window Recesses

For a neat look around your windows, you'll need to cut pieces of plasterboard to fit around the window reveal.

Cover Side Of Window Reveal

dry lining window reveal
  • Measure the height and depth at the side of the window reveal
  • Cut plasterboard sheets to size and stick them in place with adhesive
  • Use masking tape to hold the plasterboard in position while the adhesive dries

Cover Top Of Window Reveal

dry lining top of window reveal
  • Measure the width and depth at the top of the window reveal
  • Cut a piece of plasterboard to size and stick it in place with adhesive
  • Use timber supports between the plasterboard and window sill to hold the top part of plasterboard in place while the adhesive dries

Taping And Jointing

Tape and joint the plasterboard joins for a smooth finish

Mix and Apply Jointing Compound

dry lining jointing compound

Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and smooth it along the joint with a taping knife

Apply Jointing Tape

dry lining jointing tape

Cut a piece of jointing tape the length of the joint with scissors, and then press the tape in place

Cover Tape With Jointing Compound

jointing plasterboard
  • Use a taping knife to spread and press jointing compound along the taped joint until the compound is flush with the surface of the tape. The tape should end up encapsulated in jointing compound
  • Quickly smooth the surface with a clean and slightly damp decorating sponge
lightbulb-o

Pro Tip: Keep rinsing the sponge and wringing it thoroughly, as too much moisture will weaken the joint

Smooth Joint

sanding plasterboard
  • Leave the compound to dry
  • Lightly sand any bumps with a 220-grit sanding block

For more information on how to tape and joint, here's a great video from Silver:

Finishing Internal Corners

To get a neat finish along internal corners, use a paper-faced metal angle bead stuck in place with a jointing compound.

Measure and Cut Angle Bead

angle bead
  • Measure the height of your wall
  • Cut the angle bead 12.5mm less than the height of your wall

Mix and Apply Jointing Compound To Internal Corner

Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and spread it over the corner with a filling knife, covering just beyond where the angle bead will fit.

Press Angle Bead Into Internal Corner

fixing angle bead

Cover Angle Bead with Jointing Compound and Smooth

jointing angle bead
  • Cover the angle bead with a top coat of jointing compound
  • Smooth the top layer of jointing compound with an internal corner trowel

Finish Along Wall-Ceiling Join

Using a stable stepladder, finish the joins between your walls and ceiling by following the same method for internal corners (see directly above). For more info on dry lining ceilings, check out How To Plasterboard Ceilings.

Finishing External Corners

Use a paper-faced metal angle bead to make sure you get strong joins on external corners.

Apply Angle Bead To External Corner

fixing angle bead to external corner
  • Measure the height of the corner
  • Cut the angle bead to fit
  • Apply jointing compound to the external corner and stick the bead in place

Cover With Jointing Compound And Smooth

smooth dry lining
  • Cover the angle bead with a top coat of jointing compound
  • Smooth the top layer of jointing compound with an external corner trowel

If you've enjoyed reading this guide, please share it using the social share buttons and leave a comment below. Thanks!

About the Author Russ

I'm the founder of PropertyWorkshop.com, a site dedicated to sharing home renovation and repair tips. To learn more about me, please check out our About page