Cutting and fixing plasterboard to a variety surfaces is an important thing to learn in the DIY world. Plasterboard is such a versatile material it can be used in so many situations but lack of knowledge on how to cut and fix plasterboard stops many people using it in the first place.
Plasterboard can simply be sawn using an ordinary timber saw. The finer the teeth, the better and a cleaner edge is obtained with a fine toothed saw. There are proprietary saws available for cutting plasterboard and if you have a fairly large project to do we suggest you get one. Apart from anything else, plasterboard will blunt your wood saw in no time. Plasterboard saws can be bought from the tool store below. Sawing plasterboard is the best way to cut an opening, square or round, from the middle of a piece of plasterboard.
Measure the opening you need to make carefully and mark it on the plasterboard with a pencil. Then take a plasterboard hammer (shown below)and using the axe shaped end, bang quickly into the board about 50mm inside one of the lines you have drawn. This will allow you to insert the blade of the plasterboard saw and start cutting around the lines of your opening. To tidy up any cuts you have made you can use a plasterboard plane or rasp such as the one shown below.
Try and work out your board cuts so they go against a wall or other surface where you can seal them using some decorators caulk. See our project on using sealants. If you have to cut a board to the shape of the wall or other surface, i.e. the surface is not flat and has humps and bumps on it, see our project on scribing timber .
The best way to cut plasterboard in a straight line is to mark the line first with a pencil, then lay a spirit level, or other sort of metal straight edge, on the line. Hold the straight edge down firmly while you score along the line with a sharp hobby knife. You are not trying to cut all the way through the plasterboard, just deep enough to cut through the paper. About 3mm.
When the line is cut, stand the board up and bend or fold it away from the cut. You will soon see the board split very neatly along the line of the cut and as you fold it backwards you will be able to see a crease developing along the line of the cut on the "complete" side of the board. Now simply run your blade down this crease to complete the parting of the two parts of the board. You can now use the rasp to neaten up the edges.
Fixing plasterboard is done in 3 ways. It is either screwed, nailed or stuck. It can be stuck with adhesive (The ultra strong construction adhesives are the best) or it can be stuck using a mix of plaster. This method is most often called dot and dab and involves mixing a bucket of (usually) skim plaster to a fairly thick consistency, and placing dots or blobs of this plaster on the back of the board to be fixed. The board is then picked up and pushed against the surface it is to be fixed to. Skim plaster goes hard very quickly and also sticks incredibly well. This method is most often used to fix to masonry in situations such as dry lining.
Screwing plasterboard is done with dry wall screws which have a coarse biting thread which drives its way through the boards while keeping a good grip of them. Nailing plasterboard is traditionally the most popular way to fix the boards but the heavy hammering on one timber section can easily work another loose so Drywall screws are preferred by a lot of contractors these days. Plasterboard nails are always galvanised to protect against rust which could follow a good soaking by two or three layers of soaking wet plaster.
Take a look at our video section on "cutting plasterboard" to watch a practical demonstration on how to cut plasterboard properly.