How to Install a Ceiling in a Garage

Installing a ceiling in your garage cuts down on noise inside the house, adds insulating value, reflects light downward to aid in work projects and creates a more finished look.

Preparation

For a do-it-yourselfer, this project can be a bit daunting, but with proper planning and a little research it is doable.

Make sure that you have the necessary ceiling joists to support the drywall. They should be running on 16-inch centers and at least two-by-eight lumber. If for some reason your joists are further apart or smaller in dimension, you will need to add joists or replace existing framing to provide adequate support. Measure the ceiling area that you are planning to cover, plan for a little extra in case of mistakes and make a list of the needed supplies.

Set up your ladders or scaffold and drywall jacks if you have them. They are a big help and can be rented from some lumber yards and home centers. Make sure that each person helping has a drywall knife, hammer and nails or drill and screws and a tape measure. You may want to wear work gloves; drywall tends to dry your hands out.

Carefully measure the space for your first sheet. You will be laying the drywall paralel to the rafters along the long edge. Start at the corner of the wall and measure out. Ideally the center of your third rafter will be 48 inches from the wall so that the edge of your sheet will lay in the middle of the rafter. If you need to, mark and cut the sheet, using the chalkline or drywall square to ensure straight edges. Always place the cut edge in the corner against the wall if possible. It will making taping and bedding easier.

Installation

Screw or nail the sheet tightly, being careful not to puncture the paper. You will need one screw in every joist every 16 inches. It may help to mark screw lines on your sheet before lifting it into place. Butt the short edge of your next sheet against the first. When you reach the opposite wall, cut a piece to fit and start the second row against the first. Continue until the ceiling is covered. Make note of and cut around any electrical outlets, light fixtures or door brackets before lifting the piece into place.

Using a medium knife and a mud trough, fill in the valley between your first two rows with drywall mud. Using a wide knife, press the paper tape into the mudded joint and lightly cover it with a coat of mud, keeping the tape wrinkle and bubble free. It can help to work the mud in short, 3- to 4-foot sections, but be careful not to cut the tape until you reach the end of the seam. Continue until all the joints are filled.

Continue adding thin layers of mud until the joints are even with the surrounding drywall. Allow the mud to dry and sand to finish.

Things You Will Need

  • Ceiling joists
  • Ladders or scaffolding
  • Drywall cutting and finishing tools
  • Tape measure and pencil
  • Hammer and drywall nails
  • Drill and drywall screws (optional)
  • Drywall jack (optional)
  • At least one strong helper
  • Drywall to cover the ceiling area
  • Drywall tape and mud
  • 48-inch drywall square (optional but recommended)
  • Chalkline and chalk

Tip

  • Setting the "clutch" mechanism on your drill will allow you to run screws to the right depth without punching through. Use a 10- or 12-inch-wide knife to "float" the mud on your topcoat for even seams. Marking and cutting pieces before lifting cuts down on the time you must hold heavy pieces overhead.

Warning

  • Be very careful when working on ladders or scaffold, especially with weight overhead. Know your limit; take breaks as often as needed to maintain safety. Remember, box knife cuts are the number one industrial accident in America.

About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.