Using a Drywall Jack for Ceiling Repair and Installation

What You'll Need
Drywall jack
Power drill
Drywall bit
Drywall screws

A drywall jack can be of great help when installing drywall on a ceiling, especially if you're working by yourself. Since you can not support the full weight of a sheet of drywall above your head while you secure it to the joists, a drywall jack holds it in place for you. With tall ceilings, a jack is practically a must-have. They are fairly simple mechanical contraptions and aren't that difficult to use. Follow this how-to guide, and you'll have it down in no time.

Step 1: Preparation

Have everything you need to drywall the ceiling in the room and ready to go. This includes the sheets of drywall, drywall jack, drill, screws and ladder, if necessary. Plan to hang full sheets first followed by cut pieces if needed. Measure the location of the joists and mark it on the exposed side of the drywall as a guide.

Step 2: Assemble and/or Check the Jack

Drywall jacks break down into parts to allow for easier transport or shipping. Follow the manufacturer's instructions in the assembly of the drywall jack if you must put it together. If the jack is already assembled, check all of the parts to ensure it's in good working order. Make sure the locks on the casters work, check the hoist and the winch wheel.

Step 3: Tilt Hoist to Load Up First Sheet

Jacks typically have a tilting hoist. This feature allows the operator to use the jack for either wall or ceiling installation. Position the cradle so the drywall rests at about a 45-degree angle. Lock the casters so the jack stays put. Lift the first sheet onto the cradle, letting the bottom end rest on the support feet. Make sure that the side of the drywall you want exposed is facing down.

Step 4: Move into Position

Once the sheet is resting securely in the cradle, unlock the casters and roll the jack into position. For ceiling work, adjust the cradle so the sheet is flat atop it. It should also be positioned so that, once lifted, it will come into contact with the ceiling joists appropriately. Lock the casters when the position is right.

Step 5: Unlock Wheel Brake and Raise Sheet

Unlock the brake that prevents the wheel winch from spinning. Rotate the winch so that the lift begins to rise. Stop rotating once the drywall is pushed against the joists and lock the wheel. Don't press it so tightly that you cannot nudge the drywall a bit, as you may have to in order to finesse it into position against a header or adjacent sheet. If necessary, manually adjust the drywall as needed.

Step 6: Lock into Place

When the drywall is precisely where it needs to be, unlock the wheel, raise the sheet so it presses firmly against the joists and lock the brake.

Step 7: Set Drywall Screws

Now you can comfortably set the screws. Place one screw every 12 to 16 inches into each joist the sheet comes into contact with. Make sure they sink slightly into the drywall, forming an indentation. Once in place, lower the jack cradle and move onto the next sheet.