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Dry-lining stud partition walls is a project any homeowner can take on; you just need to have the right tools, materials, and knowledge.
This guide will walk you through the whole process of dry-lining, from selecting the right plasterboard to taping and jointing.
Note: If you’re dry-lining brick walls, please check out Dry Lining Brick Walls -- The Complete Guide, or if you’re looking to plasterboard over an ugly ceiling, check out How To Plasterboard Ceilings.
Before you get started, this guide assumes that you already have your stud partition walls fitted.
Timber Stud Partition Wall
If you need to install a timber stud partition wall, make sure you follow our guide on How To Build A Partition Wall.
Metal Stud Partition Wall
If you’re installing a metal stud partition wall, check out this video:
Important Note: If you have a metal stud wall, you will need to fix the plasterboard with screws instead of nailing.
Tools & Materials
For Preparing And Fitting Plasterboard
Remember to wear safety goggles, dust mask and gloves before carrying out any dry-lining work.
- Tape measure and spirit level
- Knife with replaceable blades. I recommend that you use specialist plasterboard blades, as these are quicker, safer and give you a cleaner cut
- Plasterboard rasp
- Board lifter
- Step ladder
When it comes to buying the right materials, the key decision is selecting the right plasterboard.
Before you make your selection, you first need to consider which type of room you’re creating. For example, if you are building a new bedroom, it’s essential that the board has solid sound insulation. However, if you’re creating a new bathroom the board will need to be moisture resistant. Other important plasterboard attributes include resistance from impact and fire.
You should also be looking for tapered-edge boards, as they make it easier to get a smooth finish when taping and jointing.
Another consideration is how much weight the board can handle per screw, especially in areas where wall-mounted items cannot be directly screwed into a noggin or stud.
Attributes To Consider When Selecting Board
- Impact resistance
- Fire resistance
- Look for tapered-edge boards
- How much weight can the board handle per screw?
Take your time, and consider all the attributes above and the room you’re creating before purchasing your plasterboard.
Other Materials Required
- 32mm galvanised plasterboard nails
For Taping And Jointing
See our ‘Dry Lining Brick Walls – The Complete Guide‘ post for a full list of tools required for taping and jointing.
Storage And Handling
Plasterboards typically come with a protective plastic coating, Don’t remove this coating until you’re ready to start work.
Keep the boards in a dry room and on a flat surface, as this will prevent bowing. If the boards do become damp, don’t use them until they’ve completely dried out.
Whenever handling plasterboards, wear gloves, and always carry the boards on their edge to minimise the risk of damage.
It’s also important to have some help, as even experienced plasterers can damage boards when working alone. If you cannot get anybody to help, another option is to buy smaller boards that can easily be handled by one person. The trade-off is cost (you have to buy more boards) and time (you must fit more boards).
How To Cut Plasterboard
You’ll need to cut the sheets to fit, especially if your walls and ceilings are not entirely straight.
1. Measure, Mark and Cut Plasterboard
- Lay a plasterboard sheet on the floor and measure 12mm less than the floor-to-ceiling height.
- Mark the cut line with a pencil and straight edge (e.g. steel ruler or spirit level)
- Using a sharp knife and straight edge, cut along the marked line. Only cut through the top paper layer, no deeper
2. Fold Over And Snap Plasterboard
- Lift the sheet off the floor and firmly push one side of the cut. You should find that it snaps along a clean line
- Use the knife again to cut through the paper layer on the other side
- If necessary, use a plasterboard rasp to smooth out any rough edges
Before you start fitting plasterboard, please watch this video and familiarise yourself with the process. After you’ve watched the video, continue with the steps below.
1. Position Plasterboard
Important note: Standard plasterboard has a grey side and an ivory side. Make sure that the ivory-side of the plasterboard is facing outwards when fixing boards.
- Starting at the door studs, carefully position a full-size board vertically so that it covers half the width of the door stud and half the width of the next stud along. To put it another way, make sure that the joins align at the centre of a stud
- Place a floor lifter at the foot of the board. Use your foot to press down and force the board up against the ceiling
2. Fix Plasterboard
Important note: It’s recommended when fixing plasterboards, to start at one side of the plasterboard and work your way across. If you fix the corners first, it can over-stress the plasterboard
- Fix the boards in place with 32mm galvanised plasterboard nails at roughly 150mm intervals and 15mm away from the edges
- Test that the fit is solid by making sure the board does not flex when you apply pressure
- Carry on fitting boards in the same way as before, cutting them to fit above doorways and adjacent walls
Taping And Jointing
See our ‘Dry Lining Brick Walls – The Complete Guide‘ post under the heading ‘Taping and Jointing‘ for a comprehensive guide on how to finish dry-lining with tape and jointing.
Also, here’s a great video by Silver on how to tape and joint:
There are faster ways to cut and fix plasterboard than what is described above. E.g. you could use an electric saw to cut the plasterboard and/or a pneumatic nail gun to fix them.
However, these advanced techniques add cost and require more skill. Therefore, I feel the dry-lining methods described in this guide are best suited for first time DIY enthusiasts. If you plan to do lots of dry-lining, please consider these time-saving tools.
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