What's the Correct Way to Install Drywall?
Tom Silva has an answer (or two) for the correct orientation of drywall
Is it better to hang drywall horizontally or vertically on a wall?
—Clay Hensley, Odessa, TX
Drywall can be hung either way—horizontally or vertically-—but in most cases the preferred orientation is horizontal, so that the long edges run at a right angle to the studs.
There are a number of practical reasons for doing it that way. It reduces the number of lineal feet of joints that have to be mudded, taped, and sanded. On 9-foot walls, the reduction can be as much as 25 percent, which means savings on labor and materials. It also makes for a stronger wall. Believe it or not, drywall is more resilient lengthwise than widthwise, so the more studs it crosses, the better. And it does a better job of bridging irregularities in stud alignment and spacing, and puts the long joints at a convenient height for applying joint compound.
One argument for hanging drywall vertically is that it can eliminate end joints, if each sheet runs from floor to ceiling. Drywall ends aren’t tapered like the long edges are, so it’s a bit trickier to finish them without leaving a telltale lump. On a no-butt-joint vertical installation, the long joints will be nicely tapered to receive joint compound and tape. But that’s also true for a horizontal installation when long sheets run corner to corner. Plus, when a vertical installation does have a butt joint, the installer first has to nail blocking between the studs to support it.
The same factors apply on ceilings. Drywall is usually hung with the long edges perpendicular to the joists or strapping. But ceiling framing can get complicated; orient the drywall whichever way has fewer joints, as long as it’s supported properly.