How to Hang Drywall Over the Top of Plaster

Dwight Malone

Cracked plaster is common in older homes, because the homes have shifted and settled over the years. This can cause unsightly cracks. If repairing the plaster is not possible or too expensive, another option is to hang drywall directly over the top of the plaster.

This is cheaper and quicker than completely tearing out the walls and starting over. With proper care and basic skills, you can complete this job and get professional-looking results.


  1. Draw a rough map of the room you'll be working on, including all baseboard, crown molding and window trim.

  2. Using a pry bar, gently remove each piece of trim. As you remove it, write a number on the back of the trim and a corresponding number on your map.

  3. Remove all electrical outlet covers. If you're hanging drywall on a ceiling, remove light fixtures as well.

Hanging on Ceilings

  1. Start with the ceiling, if you're doing both the walls and ceiling. Attach the drywall dimpler to the drill and make sure you have screws ready for quick dispersal. Use a drywall dimpler to ensure the screws won't tear through the drywall's outer paper layer.

  2. With the help of two other people, lift a sheet of drywall up to the ceiling and push it up tightly against the wall plaster.

  3. While the two other people hold the sheet in place, place one drywall screw every 12 inches around the perimeter to tack the sheet in place. Since there is wood lathe behind the plaster, you do not have to worry about screwing into a stud; the lathe will provide sufficient grip for the screws.

Hanging on Walls

  1. Hang the first sheet horizontally and from the top, so it's flush with the ceiling.

  2. Secure the drywall to the plaster wall with one screw every 16 inches.

  3. Continue hanging drywall horizontally until you reach the end of the wall.

  4. To cut the drywall, measure the length you'll need, then mark it on the sheet of drywall. Set the T-square on top of the sheet of drywall, and draw a pencil mark all the way down the front of the drywall.

  5. Using your utility knife, cut the drywall along the line. Bend it back, and then cut the paper on the back with a utility knife.

  6. Tip

    Before hanging a sheet of drywall where there is an electrical outlet, lighting box, window or door, measure the placement of these and use a drywall saw to cut the holes on the sheet of drywall prior to hanging it. If you need to cut horizontally along the drywall, make marks at both ends, then snap a chalk line the length of the drywall so you know where to cut. When cutting the horizontal piece closest to the floor, make sure the tapered end is facing up. This will make it easier to patch the drywall once it's hung.


    Be careful when lifting and transporting 1/4-inch thick drywall; it's very thin and can snap if not fully supported.