How to Finish Drywall in a Garage: A Step-by-Step Guide

Finishing garage walls can help transform the area into a functional and appealing space. Whether your client wishes to turn their garage into a workshop, home gym or an extra living area, properly finishing the drywall is essential.

From preparing the garage for installation to applying the final touches, following the correct steps will demonstrate your professional standards and commitment to thorough work.

Preparing the Garage for Drywall Installation

Clearing the Garage Space

For a renovation, when adding drywall to a client’s garage, the space should be cleared out completely. Have the homeowner remove all tools, vehicles and stored items. Sweep the floor to eliminate dust and debris that could get in the way. This first step will prevent tripping hazards and make the process faster and easier.

Inspecting and Repairing the Existing Drywall

Inspect the current drywall for signs o  f water damage or cracks. For minor drywall repair, a quick peel-and-patch can be carried out using a joint compound, a drywall knife and paper tape. However, there are other methods to consider to prevent repairs in the future.

Covering Exposed Pipes and Wires

Protruding pipes and wires can puncture drywall sheets. It’s vital to cover these surfaces with protective plates. Alternatively, they can be rerouted behind the walls per standard building codes. Having your client address these issues now will allow for smoother installation and prevent the need for repairs down the road.

As a contractor, it’s key to thoroughly examine the site and take all necessary precautions in advance. Let the homeowner know about any existing damage or hazards you uncover right away. This helps build trust between you and your client, assuring them that you are committed to completing the project safely and professionally.

Measuring and Cutting Drywall Sheets

Measuring the Wall and Ceiling Dimensions

Measure the height and width of each wall, including the ceiling. Multiply the height and width to get the dimensions for each wall. These dimensions guide the number and size of drywall sheets required.

Using a Utility Knife to Score and Snap the Drywall Sheets

Using a utility knife, score the front side of your drywall sheets according to the dimensions you measured, then snap the sheet back to break along the scored line. Fold it open and cut through the paper on the back. For a better fit, cut the sheets about ¼-inch short.

Cutting Openings for Outlets and Switches

Use your utility knife to cut openings for electrical outlets and switches, ensuring each drywall sheet fits perfectly around the outlets and switches. Do all the cutting while the sheets are still on the ground to avoid accidental damage.

Installing Drywall Sheets

A man is installing a sheet of drywall to wall studs using a drill and screws.

Applying Construction Adhesive to the Studs

Before adding drywall sheets to the existing stud wall of the garage, apply construction adhesive. This adhesive will hold the drywall sheets to the studs while securing screws are installed.

Attaching the Drywall Sheets to the Studs

Line up the drywall sheets with the studs and press them firmly into the adhesive. Make sure to allow for openings around windows, doors and electrical outlets.

Securing the Drywall with Screws

The drywall sheets are then attached to the studs using drywall screws. This adds extra security.

Taping and Mudding Joints

Applying Drywall Tape to the Seams

Apply paper drywall tape over the seams where two sheets of drywall meet. Always use a drywall knife to carefully smooth out and evenly distribute the tape.

Applying a Thin Layer of Joint Compound

Smooth a thin layer of drywall mud over the tape using a corner trowel. This process covers the tape and fills in any gaps to create a smooth surface and seal the seams.

Embedding the Tape in the Joint Compound

Once applied, the drywall tape must be embedded in the joint compound to push out air bubbles. This is done by pressing the drywall tape into the fresh mud with your utility knife. Make sure to wipe away any excess mud.

Installing Durable Vinyl Corner Bead

Applying Adhesive Spray

Use a quality adhesive spray designed for corner bead, such as Trim-Tex’s 847 Spray Adhesive. Apply a light, even coat to both the wall and the bead from about 6 to 10 inches away, keeping the can in motion.

Pressing and Stapling the Corner Bead

Wait a moment for the adhesive to get tacky, then press the vinyl corner bead firmly into place along the prepared corner. Use a taping knife or roller tool to apply even pressure and ensure complete contact. Secure the corner bead with corrosion-resistant staples every 6 to 8 inches along the length.

Inspecting and Adjusting

Inspect the bead for proper alignment before the adhesive sets. Make any necessary adjustments promptly to ensure the bead remains straight before applying the joint compound. When properly installed, the vinyl bead will resist denting and impacts while providing straight, perfectly finished corners.

‘Mudding’ the Corner Bead

Now it’s time to get a little messy: using a mud pan and joint knife (or, if you prefer, hawk and trowel) apply a coat of joint compound to each of the corner bead’s legs. Now, carefully wipe the mud down with your knife to form an even layer of compound on the entire bead, feathering out the edges so that you don’t have a big hump of compound you’ll need to spend forever sanding down later. Once that’s dried, probably the next day, you will need to come back to apply your second layer.

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Sanding and Priming the Drywall

Using a Sanding Block to Smooth the Joint Compound

Once the joint compound from the mudding stage has dried, it's time to start sanding. Use a sanding block to smooth out the joint compound and remove any rough edges. This step helps create an even surface for priming and paint coat.

Applying a Coat of Primer to the Drywall Surface

Next is applying primer. Cover the entire surface with a primer around any windows, doors and electrical outlets in the garage. This ensures a smoother finishing touch and enhances the paint coat's appearance. Wait until the primer has fully dried before moving to the next step.

Applying Texture (If Desired)

Choosing the Desired Texture Style

Applying texture to finished garage drywall is purely optional and only needs to be considered if the homeowner wants to add some stylistic flair to the garage's look and feel. If they need guidance, suggest they start by picking a design that complements the shape, size, and style of their garage.

Mixing and Applying the Texture Compound

Once your client chooses a design, mix and apply a compound mixture similar to the one you used to cover and embed the drywall tape.

Using Various Techniques to Create the Desired Texture

Use a drywall knife or a corner trowel to stipple the texture compound onto the drywall. Once everything has dried, apply your primer, let it dry fully and paint as desired.

Painting the Drywall

Preparing the Surface for Painting

Before painting, make sure the drywall is sealed and free of dust. The process of installing and finishing drywall can leave a fine layer of dust on everything. Take some time to dust and clean the walls and ceiling.

Applying Multiple Coats of Paint for Optimal Coverage

Two coats of paint are generally recommended for the best coverage. The first paint coat seals the drywall, and the second one gives it a nice, even color. When painting around electrical outlets, always remove outlet covers and use painter's tape to cover the sockets.

Final Touches and Cleanup

Installing Trim and Baseboards

This process adds a decorative finish and is usually done using a miter saw and nail gun. When adding the trim and baseboards, be precise to ensure a clean, professional look.

Filling any Remaining Holes or Imperfections

After the drywall repair, some imperfections may remain, such as minor holes and dents. Fill these with drywall mud and sand it down for a smooth finish. Remember to apply mesh tape on larger holes before adding the mud for the best results.

Cleaning up the Workspace and Tools

After wrapping up a project, remember to clean up the workspace. This will show your professionalism and dedication to providing comprehensive, quality work while ensuring the durability and maintenance of your tools. Clean up debris and sweep the area. Wipe down your drywall knife, corner trowel and any other tools used. Drywall mud, if left to dry, can be hard to remove and may ruin your tools over time.

Trim-Tex Makes Finishing Drywall Easy

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When you're turning a client’s garage into a finished masterpiece, turn to Trim-Tex. We have the corner beads, reveal beads, shadow beads and other drywall finishing accessories necessary to create smooth, sleek edges around windows, doors and more. Contact us for more information or reach out to a dealer near you.