How to Install Furring Strips (Drywall)
Furring strips are used to give strength and rigidity to your wall. They’re made from wood or other materials that will not warp when exposed to moisture. You can use them for decorative purposes such as adding a touch of rustic charm or they can be used for structural reasons like attaching panels of drywall together. Furring strips come in different sizes and shapes, but there’s no need to worry if you don’t have any handy. There are plenty of places online where you can buy them at reasonable prices.
The first thing you’ll want to decide is whether you want to make your own furring strip or get one pre-made. Furring strips are usually installed with screws, but you can also use nails if you prefer.
Before installing furring strips, make sure the surface is free of any sharp objects or debris. If it’s too damp, the strips may crack or even fall out altogether. Also ensure there isn’t any water sitting on top of the strip before placing it down so that it doesn’t become wet during installation. If you go with the latter option, you’ll need to determine which type of material it is before making your purchase. Furring strips are usually made out of plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard).
Plywood is a fairly common material that comes in various thicknesses and colors. Wood is very strong and durable; however, it does tend to warp over time due to its natural ability to rot.
If you’re installing a wooden furring strip, you’ll need to pre-drill the holes or else they’ll just crack under the pressure. You can use a nail and hammer to do this. If you’re using a metal one, you should be able to screw them straight into the wall without any hassle.
You can then screw or nail the furring strips into place. MDF is made of compressed sawdust and glue and is much less susceptible to mold or rot. It’s also very lightweight and not as strong as plywood making it slightly more susceptible to cracking or breaking.
Furring strips come in a few different widths, the most common being 1, 2 or 3 inches wide. Once you’re done, you can start to screw the drywall onto the furring strips. Make sure you leave a small space in between the panels to allow for expansion and contraction of the wall with changes in humidity.
To finish it all off, you can then apply drywall compound over the seams. This is generally known as “bonding” the walls together and ensures they are stronger than before. The wider the strip is, the sturdier it’ll be and the more support it’ll provide. You should also make sure that the strips are long enough to extend out from the wall at least 8 to 10 inches. This way you can attach your drywall panels without any gaps around them.
When installing furring strips, make sure to leave a small gap between each one. This will keep them from breaking when you go to screw the drywall onto them.
Drywall taping is a long and laborious process, but it’s something that has to be done right if you want your finished product to last. There are various techniques you can use that will speed up the process, such as “mud-loading”. This involves adding more material than what’s strictly necessary to your compound so you don’t have to add as much later. The downside is it adds more time and cost to your project.
You can also use tapered drywall knives or a taping tool. These things cut down on the amount of time it takes to do the job and are usually worth the money. As for mud-loading, you will have to pay more for the drywall itself and will increase your chances of having to do repairs later, so it isn’t always the best idea.
It’s a good idea to have at least 2 people working on this so one can apply the tape while the other is doing the mud. Make sure to keep the tape joints at 12 inches or multiples of that.
It’s also a good idea to have a mud tray to keep your mud in so you don’t make a big mess. You can use a 5 gallon bucket or anything else that has low sides and won’t tip over easily.
You can try to do this process yourself, but it’s much easier with 2 people. You can still try to tape it yourself by standing on a ladder and reaching up with your hands. Just make sure the ladder is secure.
Once you’ve finished taping, allow the mud to dry and then smooth it out so it’s nice and even. Allow it to dry for 24 hours and then you can apply your primer. After that you can finally apply your finish coats.
Before you begin, make sure you have all of your tools ready and on hand. You don’t want to be looking for a hammer or drywall knife while you’re trying to work.
This process is very similar to the way you did your wallboard, but there are a few changes you need to make.
First of all, while you don’t need to cover any outlets or light switches, you will need to cover any lamp sockets that are exposed. You can use metal tape for this or plastic electrical tape. Be sure to wrap it around the socket in at least 2 full revolutions so that it’s secure. Once that’s done, you’re ready to go.
Using your square, find a corner of the room that you want to start with. You’re going to be working from the inside of the room outward. This means you will start with the corner of one of the walls and work along the wall, across the ceiling and down the next wall.
As before, cut out around the edges of sockets and any other fixtures in the area.
Once you have the hole cut, use your drywall saw to cut the board. Be sure to keep your hands away from the edges while you’re cutting. Hanging from the board or lying along side it and using a sharp tool can cause bad injuries if the board should snap back at you.
Once it’s cut, remove the center portion of the old board and set it aside to be used in screwing on your next row.
With the new piece in place, use your mud tray to take a dab of mud and apply it to the edges of the drywall. Now take your drywall knife and spread it along the sides and top of the new piece.
Continue this until you’ve covered the entire perimeter and then go over it again to make sure it’s even and there aren’t any big blobs of mud or bare areas.
If necessary, you can cut away any excess with your knife. Don’t cut too close to the surface though or you will have to apply more mud.
The next step is to go over the entire wall with your knife to give it a nice smooth finish.
Be sure to use even pressure to avoid creating marks in your mud job.
Continue working all the walls, both outside and inside. You can begin on the ceiling, but don’t forget to come back and do the outside once you’re done with the inside.
You will need to patch the old drywall that you cut out, but you can use pieces from that to fill in any screw holes or anything else that needs fixing.
It’s also a good idea to take some time and look at the entire room from several angles. You might notice places where there are dips or bumps that you can easily even out. Use your knife and a little mud to do this.
Again, be sure to keep everything as smooth as possible.
While you should take your time while doing this, don’t drag it out too much. It’s a good idea to have most of the drywall work finished within a few days of the drywall going up. You want to make sure that the mud is given enough time to dry and harden properly, but you don’t want all of it to set too long or it will start to crack.
If you do get some cracks, don’t worry too much about it. You can fill them in later when you’re doing the finishing coats.
Keep working and by the time you’ve gone over everything a couple times, your door will be ready to go in.
Take down your scaffolding and throw that old sheet along with the rest of your trash. Wipe down the walls and ceiling to get any loose dust and then take down your Exit sign.
You place your new door into position and pull out the screws you’ve been saving.
With your door up, you can begin to see the final product. It’s taken a lot of work, but the room is coming along nicely.
Over the next week or so, you spend some time putting on the finishing touches. You cut and treat the wood for a cool looking shelf unit to go over your bed and you pick up a new lamp to hang from the ceiling.
You also throw away that old water heater and buy a proper bedroom door. The new door is white, but you plan on painting it to match the rest of your room.
Now all you have left is to move in. You don’t have too much, but what you do have you’ve been dragging around with you for years. Packing and unpacking is always such a pain.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it very often.
You’re finally done and your room is complete. Your friends are all impressed with your handy work and even your parents think it looks good.
You’ve reached the next phase in your life.
You’re finally a teenager.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Drywall furring strip system (AF Kuhr – US Patent 4,757,663, 1988 – Google Patents)
- Adjustable locator for furring strips (JR Williams – US Patent 4,237,614, 1980 – Google Patents)
- … Building and Wall Exterior Base, Lateral Furring Frame for Wall Exterior Material Installation and Method for Covering Wall Using Lateral Furring Frame, and Exterior … (K Omiya – US Patent App. 11/587,265, 2007 – Google Patents)
- Electrical box and frame assembly for shallow wall cavities formed by furring strips (TJ Gretz – US Patent 8,772,649, 2014 – Google Patents)
- Vented furring strip (RJ Morris, D Sheldon – US Patent 7,117,649, 2006 – Google Patents)
- Wire furring hangers (G Sheppard, D Brodeur, J Sheppard… – US Patent …, 1973 – Google Patents)
- Furring strip (NR Forbush – US Patent 1,833,174, 1931 – Google Patents)