Installing drywall onto a cement wall should present no problems, if you first attach furring strips to the wall and then install your drywall onto the furring strips. The challenge, then, is to install the furring strips correctly. They need to be spaced right, set plumb, and attached securely to the wall. To accomplish this, you may need a few instructions, as well as the right materials and tools.
Step 1 – Preparation
Measure your concrete wall to determine the number of furring strips or studs you'll need. Determine not only the number of strips you'll need, but their length. If you have 8 feet or more between your floor and your ceiling, you'll probably want to use 8-foot strips. Also, decide how far out from the wall you want your drywall installed. If you plan to use insulation batts, you'll need the space provided by a 4-inch stud. For walls with no insulation, or with rigid insulation, a 2-inch stud should work. Cut all your strips to size before you begin installing them on your wall. If you anticipate moisture, such as in a basement, plan to install a floor plate that all your strips will be mounted on, to keep them separated from any floor moisture that could cause them to warp.
Step 2 – Mark Your Wall for Furring Strip Locations
Using a measuring tape and a carpenters level, mark with a chalk line on the wall where each furring strip should be attached. Be sure the lines are space 16 inches on center and that they are all plumb.
Step 3 – Install A 2X4 Bottom Plate
To keep your drywall sheets off the floor, where they may be vulnerable to moisture, install a pressure treated 2X4 plate at the bottom of the wall. Install it flat side against the wall by first running a bead of liquid nails on the flat side of the plate that will be attached to the wall. Toenail the bottom end of the your studs into the plate to hold them firmly in place until the adhesive secures them to the wall. Drill holes through the 2x4 and into the wall, spaced 16 inches apart. Drill these wall holes about 1 1/2 inches deep. Place your plate vertically against the wall, flat side against the wall (assuming you'll be using rigid insulation or no insulation) with its holes lines up with the holes in the concrete wall. Using a sledge hammer. Driving 3-inch fluted nails through the plate and into the wall holes.
Step 4 – Attach Your Furring Strips
As you did with the bottom plate, drill holes through your furring strips and into the wall along the line you marked on the concrete wall. Apply liquid nails to the first furring strip, position it on the chalk line and lined up with the wall holes. As described in Step 3, toenail all furring strips to the bottom plate to hold them in place. Then, pound in the fluted nails through them and into the wall until you have them all installed.