When hanging drywall, one of the most challenging aspects of the job is when you need to cut holes for electrical boxes and lights. If you make a mistake at this junction, you could end up cutting too small a hole, too big a hole, or at worst you might have to toss away your entire sheet and try again. However, there do exist a few easy, quick methods that you can use to make sure your drywall cuts come out perfect every time.
Tips for Recessed Lights
When cutting drywall openings for recessed lighting, the difficult part is making sure the numbers you’ve measured off the ceiling match up with those you proceed to lay out onto your drywall sheet—if you mix up your measurements, you can end up with misplaced cuts on your sheet. To make sure your measurements line up the first time, start by taking a glance at your drywall sheet on the floor, and then simulate lifting the sheet up into place in order to get an idea of which end or side you’ll need to measure from. Next, mark off on your sheet the end and side from which you will be pulling your tape measure. Then, at the light fixture, measure the fixture’s dimensions—left to right, front to back. Transfer the fixture’s measurements onto your sheet, and then draw a square on your sheet to border the hole. Next, simply draw two lines from the corners of the square (forming an ‘X’), giving you your exact center for the fixture hole. Then, by using a small nail, puncture the center point to mark the other side of your sheet. From here, use a circle cutter—setting it to cut approximately one-eighth of an inch larger than the light fixture—and, with the cutter’s center point in the middle, rotate the cutter until you’ve cut through your sheet’s paper. Repeat this on the opposite side of your sheet, and then tap out the excess.
Tips for Round Boxes
To effectively lay out and cut round boxes, repeat the same process that is required for the recessed lights. However, this time you may wish to use a drywall square to mark the positions for the box. Also, utilize an extra round box as a cut-out template instead of using a circle cutter. With the extra round box, trace the round hole. Next, using a drywall saw, simply cut the hole with the saw. Consider angling your drywall saw to as to ensure the rear of the opening is slightly larger than the front of the opening to make sure the round box slips nicely into the hole opening. But never assume that the holes will match up with the round boxes every time. So to be safe, hang your drywall sheet with a few screws that are positioned a good distance from the hole opening. Next, carefully nudge the opening over the round box until your sheet is placed securely against the wall studs. If the screws are drilled too closely and aggressively to the box, the drywall edging may burst outward, causing a “blowout”. If this occurs, you will need to repair the blowout by cutting away the loose drywall and its paper, filling the gaps with setting compound, and then applying tape and numerous applications of compound.
Tips for Rectangular Boxes
When cutting holes in drywall for rectangular boxes, accuracy is key—if your cuts are even a bit off the mark, “blowout” can easily occur. Also, due to electrical code regulations, a rectangular box hole cannot measure over one-eighth of an inch beyond the box itself, so if you cut too big, taping and setting compound will be needed to fill in the gaps. Additionally, when using your tape measure, be sure to keep the tape measure straight and level, for even the slightest angling in your measurements could cause problems for you down the road. So, after you’ve measured out all four sides of the box, cut with a drywall saw three of four sides, making sure to cut on an angle (with the rear of the opening slightly larger than the front to ensure a nice fit over the box). For the fourth side, use a utility knife to score the side, then with the knife’s butt-end, tap the flap open. Next, on the opposite side of the sheet, simply cut the flap off with the knife. Finally, hang your sheet with a few screws a good distance away from the box hole, then carefully nudge the sheet around the box. If you have trouble, cut the sides of the opening with the utility knife until the sheet fits nicely. Then continue to screw the sheet snugly against the wall.