The space within becomes the reality of the building.
~ Frank Lloyd Wright
Drywall and ceiling contractors define the space within a building so that occupants can create their desired
reality. As they finish off interior walls and ceilings, these contractors create areas that deliver both form and
function and bring the space to life.
Because drywall is an essential part of nearly every building constructed. No matter what type of structure,
commercial or residential, you will find interior walls and ceilings made of drywall.
Virtually all drywall is made of gypsum plaster with a paper coating
Invented in 1916 by the U.S. Gypsum Company , drywall replaced the more labor- and time-intensive plaster walls
that were commonly built. Today, sheetrock, the U.S. Gypsum Company’s brand of drywall, is the most prevalent
material used for finishing walls and ceilings. The lightweight material comes in panels that can be easily attached
to metal or wood studs, creating interior walls.
On this industry page, we cover a wide range of construction drywall topics: the industry, types of drywall
contractors, employment and occupations, work activities, tools, associations and organizations, and safety hazards.
You may opt to continue reading to learn more about drywall, or you can click the hazard warning icon and be taken
directly to the safety section for this industry, its suggested PPE, and a list of potential hazards.
Drywallers make up the construction sub-industry identified by NAICS 238310. This coded number allows the government
to classify all activities performed by the sector's businesses, helping workers and suppliers better understand the
According to IBISWorld, thedrywalling industry produces over $51 billion
in economic activity each year. All companies operating in this industry are referred to as Drywall and Insulation
Contractors. Those who work in this part of the construction industry hang wallboard and install ceilings. They may
also perform drywall repair on existing buildings.
Types of Drywall
You never use the same glove for all workplace applications, and you never use the same drywall
sheets to build interior walls. The sheetrock a contractor uses dependson its location and application within a
Here is a breakdown of different types of drywall that may be used:
Regular / Standard
-This drywall is the most common and economical type produced for residential construction.
-In areas more likely to experience higher moisture or humidity levels, such as bathrooms or
kitchens, this more moisture-resistant drywall is used.
-This drywall offers exceptional absorption and is used for veneer plastering.
-Protected with fiberglass as an alternative to paper, this drywall is more formidable than
-This drywall offers excellent moisture, mildew, and mold resistance.
-With high fire resistance due to its multi-layer construction, this type of drywall helps prevent
a fire from spreading.
-This laminated drywall helps dampen the sound and is used in noisy areas.
DIY: Drywall Repair
Life happens. A wrong turn while moving a heavy bookcase or a small leak from a pipe in the wall can leave
you with a section of drywall that needs repair. How do you repair drywall? Maybe the better question should
be, are you ready to do it yourself? It's a frequently asked question for a lot of people not directly
linked to the construction industry.
While not necessarily trick, drywall repair can be time-consuming, and, for most, it is not a task they are
willing to learn, which is why repairing walls is a big part of the drywall contractor's world. However, for
some DIY-ers, it is a worthwhile skill to learn. Below are some of the skills you'll need to know and some
resources to help you carry out multiple drywall-related tasks, with links to helpful educational
How to Mud Drywall
-When repairing or replacing drywall, “mud” is used to hide the seams between the
different pieces. To achieve a flat surface, you’ll need to apply the mud smoothly
inthis step . Here is agood video to learn more about this
critical step of drywall taping.
How to Tape Drywall
-Repairing corners and fixing cracked taped seams occurs every day within the drywalling
profession. With over 1 million views, you'll want to check outthis video to learn more
about this critical step of drywall taping.
How to Patch Drywall
-Fixing holes, including nail holes, is a big part of what drywall contractors do every day. If
you want to learn how to patch drywall, Lowe's provides an excellentmulti-step process
and a video.
How to Texture Drywall
-Sometimes, larger repairs require the new drywall to be retextured to match the existing wall or
ceiling texture. Texturing drywall, sheetrock, and plaster are typical activities for the drywall
professional. You can check out thisvideo to learn some excellent tips and hacks to help you get
How to Hang Drywall
-Big fixes or new construction may mean you need to hang an entire sheet of new drywall as opposed
to just completing a small patch. You're not going to want to mess this step up. To help ensure success,
you'll need the proper drywall hanging tools, and you'll need to learn the art of hanging drywall
vertically. Here is anexcellent video to get you up to speed
on this craftsman's skill.
How to Finish Drywall
-Just because the drywall is installed doesn’t mean the job is done. Get ready to sand,
finish joints, and finish corners just like the pros. It's not easy, but it can be done. Thisvideo is well-made and will walk you through the steps to finishing
The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI )represents 2,400 companies and organizations directly or
indirectly tied to this construction sub-industry. From suppliers to manufacturers, the organization
provides services that help companies operate successfully. Here are some of their top online resources:
Numerous other associations assist companies in the industry. Here are some other
associations and organizations:
All drywall associations have one thing in common: keeping drywallers and tapers armed with the
most relevant, up-to-date information possible to help them best perform their job. Many employees in this
industry look to associations for answers.
Typesof Drywall and Ceiling
The invention of drywall eliminated some of the artistry required in plastering walls. Drywall easily
attaches to wood, simplifying the overall installation process. Here is a look at the various types of
drywall contractors as identified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Often referred to as drywallers, they cut and hang wallboard.
Hang and mount material to ceilings.
Prepare walls for paint or wallpaper.
Of the three trades listed above, the bulk of them finds employment installing walls. Let's break it down by
the actual employment numbers.
Employment and Occupations
The drywalling trade is physically demanding, as workers are always reaching, lifting, and bending. However,
it is a much-needed trade due to new building construction and the demand for repair and renovation of
existing structures. Growth will be ongoing as older tradesmen leave the industry.
According to the BLS, there were 125,100 drywall and ceiling workers with employment in 2019. Here is a
breakdown of where drywall installers are employed:
|Drywall and insulation contractors
|Nonresidential building construction
There were 21,800 tapers employed in 2019. Here is where they are employed:
|Drywall and insulation contractors
|Nonresidential building construction
|painting and covering contractors
Within the construction industry, the BLS shows there are 100,000 drywall contractors finding
employment. That means 80% of all drywall workers find jobs directly in the construction industry.
http:As with all the trades within construction, there is never just one task
workers perform. Installing drywall sheets may be simpler than plastering walls, but it still requires
multiple work activities to get the walls up.
Here are some of the various activities performed by drywall contractors:
adhesives, sealants, and mortar
simple or ornamental plaster
Cleaning and prepping areas
wood, metal, tile, and drywall
drywall to wooden structures
panels with glue and screws
screw holes with compound
Installing trim, panels, and ceiling tiles
insulation, including acoustical
metal, wood, and trim
materials and panels
Patching rough drywall spots
Removing excess material
old walls and materials
surfaces and holes for a pristine finish
butt joints, flat joints, and inside corners
According to O*NET OnLine, 86% ofsurveyed drywallers said they perform these
activities while standing. They often use their hands to feel objects and operate tools. This is important
to note as it impacts the type of PPE drywallers need.
Drywallers know the ins and outs of their favorite hardware store. Here is a look at some of the most common
drywall tools used in drywall installation. We highlight these tools because many injuries workers suffer
are caused by the tools they use.
Here is a look at some of the most common drywall tools:
Anchor – used in conjunction with a screw for mounting
Cart – moves sheets of drywall to work areas
Drywall Lift – helps safely lift material
Filler – joint compound for filling small holes
Jab Saw – designed for penetrating drywall
Knives – 4-inch and 6-inch for slopping mud and 12-inch for
Mud Pan – carries a mudding compound to the working area
Power Saw – cuts holes and shapes in drywall
Primer – seals the porous surface of the drywall paper to
create a uniform surface
Sander – smooths plastering compound
Sanding Pole and Sanding Sponge – provide increased speed over
Screws – require deeper threads for drywall installation than
Snips – used to cut materials such as lath or corner beads
Tape Measure – for measuring the length of a wall
Taping Knife – spreads compound over joints
Trowel – spreads sealing coats
T-Square – designed for drywall, its 4-foot blade reaches
across entire sheets
Utility Knife - for cutting drywall and patching walls
Keeping a watchful eye on the work environment is especially crucial for drywall and ceiling
contractors. Accidents and injuries are common across the construction industry, especially among this group
of professional contractors. The industry ranks #3 out of 21 total construction sub-industries for
incidents. For every 100 people, there is an injury experienced by 3.9 workers. Here are some other stats
the BLS provides that drywaller contractors should consider:
The BLS recorded 380 hand injuries for this industry in 2019, placing the sector at #7 out
of 21 construction sub-industries.
There were 820 confirmed injury cases involving parts and materials, the 6th most of any
Drywallers reported a total of 110 eye injuries in 2019, placing this construction
sub-industry #6 out of 21 for eye injuries.
As you can see, there are some definite concerns for drywallers when performing work activities
like the ones mentioned above. Due to the nature of construction work, PPE is a crucial part of keeping
workers safe. However, before you begin selecting PPE, you must first know what hazards exist. Here are some
completed job hazard analysis PDFs, which will help aid you in understanding what PPE is needed while
You might also enjoy reading some ofOSHA's Drywall Trainer
Guide .It highlights the correct usage of tools, identifies
drywall hazards, and suggests appropriate PPE.
With all the drywalling safety information and hazard information we've equipped you
with, you're now ready to start considering PPE options available to drywallers. So let's dig a little
deeper into personal protective equipment.
Due to the number of hand injuries experienced by workers in this industry, especially cut wounds, wearing
appropriate work gloves is essential. Here is a broad list of various personal protective equipment (PPE)
MCR Safety supplies to help drywall and ceiling contractors stay protected:
Work gloves – cut, chemical, impact.
When polled by the U.S. Department of Labor, 62% of drywall workers identified
PPE as a part of their
daily work uniform. As we highlighted above, these workers rank in the top tier of construction injuries,
which means the number of workers acknowledging the need to wear PPE should be increasing.
As a general rule, work gloves are an absolute mustwhen handling
sprayed-on finishes, rough-textured gypsum board panels, or sanding surfaces. Gloves are only the
beginning, though, as many other hazards may be present. Some of those and the PPE that can protect
against them are covered below.
We've highlighted a lot of drywalling information and thrown a bunch of industry stats at you.
This page's remaining part showcases some of the most common drywalling hazards and different PPE
options drywall and ceiling contractors should consider wearing while performing their work.
If you prefer to return to the main Construction home page, click the
image below. From the home page, you'll be able to access any of the numerous construction industries we
MCR Safety's dedicated Construction Industry resource page.