“It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the
construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time.”
David Allan Coe
For drywall and ceiling contractors, the beauty they create may not be the
actual foundation, but their work is beautiful, and it’s something
everyone has to gaze upon at some point. Why? 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
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
According to IBISWorld, the drywalling 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
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 depends on its location and application within a building.
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.
Green - In areas more likely to experience higher
moisture or humidity levels, such as bathrooms or kitchens, this more
moisture-resistant drywall is used.
Blue - This drywall offers exceptional absorption and
is used for veneer plastering.
Paperless - Protected with fiberglass as an
alternative to paper, this drywall is more formidable than standard drywall.
Purple - This drywall offers excellent moisture,
mildew, and mold resistance.
Type X - With high fire resistance due to its
multi-layer construction, this type of drywall helps prevent a fire from
Soundproof - 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 info:
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 in this step. Here is a good 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 out this 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 excellent multi-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 this video 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
an excellent 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. This video is well-made and will walk you through the steps to finishing your
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.
Types of Drywall and Ceiling Contractors
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):
Drywall Installers - often referred to as drywallers,
they cut and hang wallboard.
Ceiling Installers - hang and mount material to
- Tapers - 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
There were 21,800 tapers employed in 2019. Here is where they are employed:
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.
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:
- Applying adhesives, sealants, and mortar
- Applying simple or ornamental plaster
- Cleaning and prepping areas
- Cutting wood, metal, tile, and drywall
- Cutting openings
- Drilling holes
- Fastening drywall to wooden structures
- Fastening panels with glue and screws
- Filling screw holes with compound
- Finishing walls
- Hanging panels
- Installing trim, panels, and ceiling tiles
- Installing insulation, including acoustical
- Installing lath
- Installing metal, wood, and trim
- Measuring materials and panels
- Mixing substances
- Patching rough drywall spots
- Preparing wall surfaces
- Removing excess material
- Removing old walls and materials
- Sanding joints
- Sealing joints
- Smoothing surfaces and holes for a pristine finish
- Taping butt joints, flat joints, and inside corners
According to O*NET OnLine, 86% of surveyed 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.
Installing Ceiling Tiles / Cleaning and Prepping
Patching Drywall / Removing old Ceiling and Drywall
Drilling and Sanding Walls
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
- 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 feathering
Mud Pan – carries a mudding compound to the working
- 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 hand sandpapering
Screws – require deeper threads for drywall
installation than standard screws
Snips – used to cut materials such as lath or corner
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
Measuring Tape and Anchors
Screws and Utility Knife
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 #4 out of 25 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
The BLS recorded 380 hand injuries for this industry in 2019, placing the
sector at #5 out of 25 construction sub-industries.
Out of 380 hand injuries, 310 were cut injuries, 81% of all total hand
Drywallers reported a total of 110 eye injuries in 2019, placing this
construction sub-industry #7 out of 25 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 installing drywall:
You might also enjoy reading some of OSHA'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
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:
- Safety glasses
- Face shields
- Steel toe boots
- Work gloves
- Hi-vis clothing
- Hi-vis safety vests
As a general rule, work gloves are an absolute must when handling fiberglass batts, 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 cover. If you would prefer to check out some of
drywalling’s specific hazards and suggested PPE to protect against
those hazards, please continue reading below the Construction page
MCR Safety's dedicated Construction Industry resource page.