On average, drywall installation costs between $30 and $60 per panel nationwide, including material and labor costs. These panels, also referred to as plasterboard or gypsum board panels, are prefabricated boards that are hung in sheets and used to finish walls and ceilings in residential and commercial construction.
Contractors and drywall specialists tackle drywall installation for basements, garages, bonus rooms and entire interiors on new construction jobs. In addition, these pros can help with popcorn ceiling removal, water damage repair, hole repair and drop-ceiling installation. Most are skilled at taping and sanding joints, spraying texture, and removing and replacing old drywall.
It's important to hire a skilled professional, as the texture of your new walls depends on their ability to properly smooth (or create the desired texture on) the final surface. Let's look at the factors that affect the total cost of a drywall installation project.
What's in this cost guide?
- Drywall materials
- Labor and prep costs
- Popcorn ceiling removal
- Drywall repairs
- New construction versus remodel
- Minimum service fee
- Hiring a drywall contractor
Before diving into your project project, you'll want to familiarize yourself with a few types of drywall, all varying slightly in cost. The cost for materials can be anywhere from 15 percent to 50 percent of the total project cost, depending on the size of the job. For example, a patch job requires much more labor (tooling up, travel, unloading, work, packing up, repeat) than materials (handful of screws, small scrap piece of sheetrock, leftover mud, tape, etc). Here is a breakdown of the most common types of drywall and drywall materials you'll find when starting your installation project:
You'll pay about $10 per 4 ft. x 8 ft. panel on average for standard drywall. This is the type of drywall used in most commercial and residential properties, and vary in thickness and size. The typical size of a drywall board is 4 ft. x 8 ft.
Moisture and Mold Resistant Drywall
Mold resistant drywall panels and concrete boards are used in high-moisture areas like the bathroom and kitchen. They're made with mold-resistant materials like fiberglass mats, and contain anti-microbial properties to prevent mold growth and maintain the functionality and appearance of the drywall panels.
Concrete boards are used in extremely high-water areas like shower and bath surroundings. Because these are made of sturdier materials, expect to pay more than what you would for your standard drywall panel – about $20 per panel on average.
Fire Resistant Drywall
Fire-rated drywall is installed where mandated by building code. This drywall is typically 5/8" thick, and constructed with glass fibers. Fire-rated drywall is typically installed in garages and near stoves and furnaces. Expect to pay about 20% more for fire-rated panels than you would for standard drywall panels.
Drywall mud or joint compound (also known as drywall compound) is a white powder of primarily gypsum dust mixed with water to form a mud the consistency of cake frosting, which is used with paper or fiber joint tape to seal joints between sheets of drywall to create a seamless base for paint on interior walls. Mud also comes in several options: lightweight, general-purpose and ready-mix (powder).
Pros often estimate a set firm price or price range after doing a site visit and determining the approximate labor costs, material costs (such as wallboard, joint compound, boards and more), square footage and prep work required. If you want a special smooth finish for entryways or sunlit areas, that may add to the overall cost. Typically after a first visit, the pro prepares a quote based on how long it will take for the work plus labor costs. From this base price, they may also add travel and materials to account for working in a setting with multiple subcontractors where the scope of work can sometimes shift. Some professionals generate drywall estimates based on a set cost per square foot, and some base quotes on a combination of time required and the size of the job. Here are a few average national project cost examples:
|Type of Drywall Project||Total Cost|
|Drywall installation for one or two standard-size rooms||$900-$1,500|
|Hang and tape an outbuilding with about 40 drywall sheets at $0.75 per square foot||$1,450|
|Scrape a popcorn ceiling in a kitchen, repair cracks in walls and prime||$475|
|Install a drop ceiling in one room at $0.93 per square foot||$375|
Many popcorn ceilings installed from the 1930s through the 1980s pose a potential health hazard because they often contain asbestos. The cost to remove a popcorn ceiling can vary, depending on the complexity and size of the job. A typical drywall installer might charge approximately $1.25 per square foot to scrape, tape, sand, prime and paint a ceiling. The cost can drop $0.25 per square foot if customers do the painting themselves after drywall installation.
You may be able to do minor (or major) repairs instead of replacing your drywall. Nationally, the average price to repair drywall ranges between $210 and $300. Drywall repair prices will depend on the size of the crack or hole in your wall or ceiling, the quantity of materials needed for the repair, and other factors such as mold or rot. Even the most cautious homeowners will likely see cracks and holes develop in their drywall over time. Roy Brothers Drywall in Narragansett, RI charges $250-$350 to repair drywall without repainting. With painting, the total cost can be as much as $550. Roy of Roy Brothers Drywall says his prices may be higher than competitors because his company strives for a flat, long-lasting and overall high-quality finish on repairs. Some additional examples of drywall prices for repairs from other pros include these:
|Type of Drywall Repair Project||Total Cost|
|Sand and texture five wall patches||$200|
|Repair a 4-foot by 8-foot section of wall||$225|
|Replace drywall in an entire bedroom||$1,500|
Drywall can be damaged by factors that are out of your control, like when your house settles or there's a minor earthquake. But typically drywall has a long life once installed and can be fairly hardy if properly cared for. Try these preventive measures to protect your drywall and save yourself some repair money:
- Be careful when moving furniture. Banging into your walls with beds, dressers and chairs can lead to cracks in your drywall.
- Install art carefully. Make sure to use a stud finder to prevent tears in the wall that can occur if you hang a piece of art or other heavy item without support.
- Fix water damage fast. Leaks and wet drywall never improve. Wetness often indicates a plumbing or roofing issue, but regardless of why, wet drywall can lead to mold, which you want resolved immediately.
Expect lower drywall installation costs when you're building your home from the ground up. Installing drywall in a newly constructed building is much cheaper per square foot or per board than installing it during a home remodel. Work during a home remodel is often divided many different workspaces throughout the house. The drywall pros also must work around other contractors who are doing their work simultaneously, making the process slower and more labor-intensive. It's much easier when the walls are new and the drywall contractor can put up eight to 12 boards per hour unimpeded.
Many drywall repair professionals will charge a minimum service fee no matter how minor your drywall repair. This minimum service fee ensures that the contractor's business operating expenses are met. For each drywall job they take, even if it's only repairing a small crack, they still have to send at least one skilled labor, send out a company vehicle, supply the appropriate tools and materials, and account for the worker's travel time. Depending on the city and the company, the minimum service fee can vary. For example, a drywall company could charge $100-$150 for a minimum service fee. Drywall companies must also account for business overhead: the cost of labor, insurance, tools, gas, vehicles and vehicle repairs, marketing, business administration, and more. The regional cost of living and labor rates also affect project costs.
Because drywall contractors focus solely on drywall, they can give more accurate price bids for drywall projects than general contractors who work on a broader scope of tasks. A general contractor will handle project management, but will also charge a markup for themselves on top of the drywall subcontractor's fee to cover their cost of doing business, increasing your final cost.
Don't hire your drywall contractor based solely on price. Make sure the company's reputation is good and that they have satisfied customers that you can contact for references. You also want to be able to easily communicate with your point person. If the drywall contractor answers your questions with confidence and respect (and you in turn treat them respectfully) the project will go more smoothly if communication is poor.
Once you feel confident in the company's services, get everything in writing with a clearly worded contract. The contract should outline the scope of the drywall installation project. Specify the total square feet you need covered or number of sheets to be installed. The contract should outline the type of drywall (such as mold-resistant in bathrooms, firewall-grade in the garage, etc.). You will also want to include a cost breakdown showing the projected cost of the different materials and the cost of labor. Confirm how payments will be made during the project. For smaller projects, you may pay a deposit to secure the contractor's work and then a final payment when the job is complete. For larger projects, such as installing drywall throughout a new 5,000-square-foot home, you'll want to pay in installments. Be very wary of a company that needs to be paid in full upfront. Include the approximate start and finish dates of the project in the contract, knowing that dates may change slightly as a result of unexpected developments like repair work. Clarify whether the contractor will obtain any permits needed and also state in writing if they will haul away any old drywall or other project refuse.