Install It Yourself: Installing Wall Paneling In A Garage Or Basement

How to finish an unfinished garage or basement.

Homebuilders always masterfully finish every room in the house, except for one. You'll notice in many new homes, the garage is hardly ever finished. Wood studs often act as the decoration. In some basements, you see similar construction. Many times, this is intentional. These rooms are hardly ever used, so contractors don't bother spending the money to insulate and finish the room. That can be a problem if you ever want to turn the basement into an extra bedroom, or if you just want to see something other than wood studs when you pull into the garage.

Finishing your own room is not an impossible task. In fact, it is easier than you think. Before you begin, you need to decide whether you want to insulate your room. If you are refinishing a basement, this is necessary. For a garage, it is optional. Insulation will keep the outside air from infiltrating the inside air. In the winter, an insulated room will stay warm. In the summer, it will stay cool. However, apart from the temperature, insulation will also keep outside sound out and inside sound in. There are several different types of insulation. The most common type is "blanket batts". Fiberglass or rock wool makes up rolls of blanket batts. You've probably seen this insulation before. Most of the time, it is "pink" in color and looks like a giant roll of cotton candy. However, many people find they have an allergic reaction to blanket batts. Even professional who install blanket batt everyday say they start to itch when handling blanket batts. It might be wise to wear a pair of gloves before using this insulation. "Loose-fill" insulation consists of tiny bits of rock wool, fiberglass or cellulose. Rigid insulation comes in boards of foam. Each type of insulation has its own advantages. Blanket batts are easy to install. You need a special machine that blows insulation right into the walls for loose-fill insulation. However, this is good choice if you have an odd shaped area that you need to insulate. Loose-fill is able to cover all the gaps, giving it a good insulation value. Rigid insulation also provides a high insulation value, but is still fairly thin.

Once you install the insulation between the wall studs, you'll need to cover the studs with drywall. Wallboard and Sheetrock are other names for drywall. Sheetrock, however, refers to a specific brand of drywall. Drywall comes in different lengths and sizes. Standard sizes are 4 foot by 8 foot and 4 foot by 12 foot. It is generally 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch thick. The thicker the drywall, the more solid your wall will be. You can install drywall either vertically or horizontally. However, you don't want to just start nailing in sheets of drywall to the wood studs. You should plan your layout carefully so there are the least number of seams possible. This extra step will save you time in the end. "Drywall nails" help secure the drywall to the studs. These are similar to regular nails. However, the best drywall nails have cupped heads which make them easier to cover. Along the edges of the panel, you should hammer a nail into the stud every 6 inches. In the middle of the panel, nail about every twelve inches. You'll want to make sure all the nails are slightly below the surface of the board. This is called "dimpling". If you miss a stud, pull out the nail and dimple the hole to make it easier to finish later. Position all joints, so they meet over the center of a stud. Local code might dictate how far apart you need to secure your drywall, so you should check with your city or county before starting. It might also be wise to grab a friend to help keep the board in place until enough nails can support it. Obviously, the drywall is not always going to fit. Luckily, it is easy to cut. To do so, stand the drywall sheet horizontally on the edge. Measure the board so you know where to make the cut. Take a "T Square" and place it against the face of the board. Score it with a utility knife a couple of times and snap the board apart.

Your room is starting to take shape. You now have the walls covered with drywall; however you still need to perform a couple more steps. The first of which is installing "corner bead". Corner bead is a long, preformed metal or plastic corner reinforcement. Depending on the corner, there is an "inside" bead or an "outside" one. You should also nail these corner beads into the drywall. Remember to "dimple" these nails as well. You next step is to apply "drywall tape" to all the joints. Drywall tape is an adhesive, mesh tape that covers the joints. Specialized tools are available at the hardware store to make applying drywall tape easier.

Your walls are almost finished. However, before you finish you will need to apply many coats of drywall compound. This is a "mud-like" substance used to create a smooth, professional finish. You'll want to use the compound over the drywall tape, the corner beads and all "dimples". Apply the first coat no more than 1/8 inch thick. Once the first coat dries, scrape the surface smooth using a wide putty knife and then apply a second coat. Repeat until your compound is slightly higher than the wall surface. When done, take some fine sandpaper and smooth out the compound so it blends in with the rest of the drywall.

You are now ready to apply your final facade. You can use paint, paneling, wallpaper, or any other finish you choose on the walls. Whatever you use, however, it certainly will look a whole lot better than it did before you tackled this project.

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