Dry-lining, attaching plasterboard to a wall, is an easy way to prepare it for decoration. It looks straightforward, but it can be easy to mess up, and there are hazards, too. It’s usually best to get it done professionally and, if you’re interested in dry-lining in London, Handy Squad’s handymen take this kind of job in their stride.
If you feel skillful enough to do it yourself, though, make sure you wear gloves, safety goggles and a dust mask at all times, and especially when cutting metal.
Fitting the Plasterboard
For each board you’re going to fit, measure the width away from the window and use a laser level or spirit level to draw a vertical line from floor to ceiling. Do the same along the wall, then mark a line across the top, allowing 12.5mm for the board and 10-15mm for adhesive.
Plasterboard is normally attached to the wall with adhesive (which dries quickly, so only do small sections at a time), but alternatively you can fix a framework of timber studs to the wall and nail the plasterboard to it. This is useful if the wall’s in poor condition, but it also allows you to use the cavity for thermal insulation or to help with soundproofing.
Mark out positions for the adhesive dabs according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then mix the adhesive and apply the dabs with a builder’s float and pointing hawk. Align the plasterboard with the lines you drew and tap it into place with a heavy batten (e.g. a long piece of 50x100mm timber). Check that it’s level and that it fits against the ceiling. If it doesn’t, raise it off the floor with board lifter till the adhesive dries.
Cutting and Fitting
To make neat cuts in the plasterboard (for a windowsill, for instance) you need a plasterboard padsaw, rather than improvising. Measure on the wall the distance between where the edge of the board will be and end of the sill, then mark it out on the plasterboard and cut it out with padsaw.
To plasterboard a window recess, measure and cut the pieces for the sides and top. Once you’ve fixed them with adhesive, you’ll need to hold them in place while it dries. You can use masking tape for the sides, but for the top piece you’ll need to support it with timber between the board and the sill.
To finish both internal and external angles, as well as the joins between the ceiling and the plasterboard, you can use a paper-faced metal angle bead fixed with jointing compound. When you’ve measured the height or length, cut the angle bead with tinsnips 12.5mm shorter than your measurement, then mix the jointing compound and spread it onto the corner, covering slightly more than the width of the angle bead. Press the angle bead into place, then cover it with jointing compound and smooth with a trowel.
The other joins can also be smoothed with jointing compound, sanding it smooth when it’s dry. In the end, though, the plasterboard will need to be plastered over, and this is best done by a professional. Whether you just need this last stage done, or whether you want to leave the whole process to experts, Handy Squad can provide an first-class service.