Do you need drywall prices for installation and finishing as part of your budgeting process?
Bear in mind is that these costs can vary widely depending upon available labor pool, level of expertise, timeliness (ability to get job done on time), size of the job, and to some extent, availability of materials.
Professional drywall contractors determine their rates usually one of two ways: One is by a cost-per-sheet basis, and the other is by the square foot.
And, for smaller jobs, drywall prices are generally more expensive regardless of room size, number of sheets, etc.
Depending on the overall housing industry (annual new home starts) and how it’s doing (strong/weak/average) can give you an indication of average wallboard prices and related material costs.
For instance, in early ’09, prices for 4′ x 8′ x 1/2″ drywall sheets were less than $6 per sheet. It’s simply a reflection of the slumping new-construction industry (in general terms) and what some related material is selling for.
So yes, this would certainly impact the cost of drywall material, as opposed to say a couple of years ago when the same stuff was nearly double in price.
In addition to drywall, you have fasteners (drywall screws), joint tape, joint compound (drywall mud), and corner bead (the metal finishing strip that fits on the corners of where two walls meet).
Having said all that, look for total material cost to be in the range of 25¢ to 55¢ per square foot for drywall prices, with an average of about 40¢ per sq.ft.
Installers will determine the drywall prices by how much labor it will take to hang and finish the total finished area. They will then add in whatever profit they think is reasonable, and divide the total by how many sheets they will actually install and finish. Hence, the cost-per-sheet.
You can pay for anywhere from $25 a sheet ($12.50 to hang, and $12.50 to finish) on the cheaper side, on up the scale to as much as $60 a sheet to finish drywall for the pricier projects such as wide arches, vaulted ceilings, etc. Anything that involves high elevation will require extra cost for lift equipment rentals.
Using this type of method to determine drywall install and finish costs is pretty common in the new construction industry, but does have a place within large remodeling projects as well. Installing and finishing drywall will cost around 85¢ to $1.15 per sq.ft. for drywall prices, with an average of about $1 per sq.ft.
You should expect to pay, however, about $30/sheet for a decent quality hanging and finishing job. The more sheets you’re job will require, the more the installers will consider cheaper labor rates. The difference maker for you, however, might be the time factor involved. If the installers can get in and get out quickly while doing a good job, then it might be worth paying a little extra (more towards the $40/sheet than the other way) for the job.
Conversely, if the drywall job is relatively small (as compared to a whole-house renovation), then expect to pay more money somewhere within the range of $45 to $65 per sheet. Drywall contractors do not typically want to do a small job, but will of course, if the price is right.
The threshold seems to be about 35 sheets of drywall installed and finished. From this point you can negotiate for cheaper rates if your job calls for more material to be used.
Keep in mind that most drywall contractors will not finish drywall that you, or someone else hung. The gripe with the drywall professionals, is that there’s usually too much taping due to inferior hanging abilities, and just a lot of rework in general involved when finishing other people’s work. Be prepared to pay extra for this scenario.
Please be sure to point out to the contractor that you expect him to completely clean up after they’re done. There is simply no excuse for your site to be left cluttered and dirty, and for you to clean up! Good drywall contractors always pick up and clean after their done. Insist that this is done.
Drywall Material Calculator
Please refer to our drywall calculator for help in locating exactly what in the way of materials you will need for your project.
Buy the Material and Have it Delivered
Once you have your materials list, you can take those numbers to any home-improvement store or drywall wholesale distribution center and ask them to work up a total price of everything you need, and have it delivered to your site.
Please be aware that for an extra charge, the delivery people will unload and deliver the drywall where you want it placed. And I highly recommend it!
“How ‘Bout Throwing In the Primer Too!”
And finally, something else you might want to consider doing, is having the same drywall contractor (if using one) quote a price to prime the drywall right after installation. In fact, many savvy contractors are offering that service as part of the job anyway to attract more customers.
The market is considerably tighter now than it was just a couple of years ago, so you should be able to negotiate a very good deal for the drywall install/finish and prime. Kind of a one-stop-shop to allow an even better deal when shopping contractors for drywall prices.
Negotiate with your contractor (should you be using one) to prime the newly installed drywall as part of the overall price. This is definitely a great timesaver toward the finish paint phase.