Tools for Drylining

Table of Contents

 Drylining is a delicate and time-consuming process for anyone, professional or not. If you’re looking to start a drylining project yourself, you’ll need the right tools to handle the job.

To help get you started in the right direction, our team has compiled the ultimate guide of tools for drylining in this article. We’ll go over what each tool is and how to use them so you can get moving on your project as soon as possible.

If you’re drylining, using the wrong tool can ruin your whole project. Avoid making a costly mistake by reading this ultimate guide to drylining tools.

What is Drylining?

Drylining, also known as drywalling, is a process of cladding the internal surfaces of a building or structure to give it a more pleasant physical appearance or increase insulation. Plasterboard is fixed to walls or ceilings, creating a suitable surface that paint or another type of finish can be applied to.

Plasterboard is a fairly tricky material to handle. The larger it is, the harder it is to fix to walls and fit into tight spaces. Different types of plasterboard are available as well, varying in width, length, and thickness, as well as the type of fibres that affect strength and durability.

While plasterboard is most often installed on top of existing walls, it can also be fixed to structural frames such as timber or metal. You’ll need to use different tools depending on which material you’re fixing the plasterboard to.

Drylining is a similar process to traditional plastering but requires less technical know-how. As such, a home DIY-enthusiast can complete a drylining project without professional help, granted you have the right tools available.

What Tools Do I Need?

Depending on the size and scope of the drylining project, as well as what type of material you’re working with, you may need more tools than you have on hand. To get the job done, you’ll need to have access to the following power tools and manual tools, all of which are meant for a specific part of the project.

Power Tools

Power tools use an external electric energy source to operate. They often make jobs much easier than using manual tools alone and are designed to complete specific tasks. For drylining, there are many different power tools you should consider. Here, we’ve put together a list of the most commonly used power tools for dry lining and how to use them.

Drywall Sander

You may have been able to tell by the name, but a drywall sander is meant for sanding down drywall to get a smooth surface free from bumps and ridges. Not only that, but you’re able to get rid of paint, extra plaster, wallpaper, or some types of varnish using the sander as well.

There are three things to keep in mind when shopping for a drywall sander:

  • Motor Power – Since drywall sanders are electric, you have to check the power rating before you decide on one. Typically, 7 amp motors are more powerful than 5 amp motors. However, more power in the motor equates to a stronger machine, so you need to be careful with your sanding so you don’t damage the plasterboard.
  • Motor Speed – Measured in RPMs, a drywall sander’s motor speed will affect how quickly it’s able to sand down plasterboard. As with motor power, higher RPM typically means the product performs better than others.
  • Hose Length – Drywall sanders produce a lot of dust and particulates that come off the plasterboard materials as you’re sanding. A hose is attached to the body of the machine to help remove dust from the environment and the air you’re breathing. If you have a large surface to sand, look for a drywall sander with a longer hose.

To use a drywall sander, start with fine sandpaper to avoid damaging soft plasterboard. Evenly apply the rotating sander to the surface while pushing slightly for the sanding to take effect. After you’ve completed your first sanding, shine a light on the surface to expose any dings or ridges to go back over a second time.

Impact Driver

Impact drivers are often confused with power drills, and they are indeed very similar. Impact drivers are high-torque machines that fasten screws and bolts into place. For drylining, this is an essential tool for fixing plaster to walls as you need to drive the fasteners into the structural framework to keep the plasterboard in place.

Think about the following factors before you go out and buy an impact driver:

  • Torque – The amount of torque the impact driver is capable of will directly affect how quickly you can fasten screws into the framing. Higher torque means more power, so it’s usually better to opt for the impact driver with a higher output.
  • Battery – How long your impact driver’s battery lasts will determine how long you can use it. If you have a big project ahead, better get a long-lasting, rechargeable battery so you don’t have to constantly start and stop to charge up.
  • Weight – The motor and battery pack of the impact driver will affect how heavy it is. Since you typically use the tool while standing, your arm may get tired if the driver is too heavy. Opt for a good balance between power and weight so you can use it for longer while also completing the task quickly and efficiently.

To use an impact driver, simply hold the grip like you would a drill. Either put the fastening on the chuck of the driver or position the driver over the bolt and then you’re ready to fire away.

Drylining Screw Gun

top pick best dry wall screwgun

Also known as a collated screwdriver or a drywall screw gun, a drylining screw gun is another crucial tool for completing a drylining project. The device quickly applies screws into critical areas of the plasterboard to secure the material to the structure or other pieces of plaster. Typically, a drylining screw gun has a belt of screws that feeds itself into the driver, allowing you to continuously screw without fixing one screw after another.

Here are some important things to consider for various drylining screw guns:

  • Cordless vs. Corded – Corded drylining screw guns need to be constantly connected to a power source to work, but often have slightly more power than those that run off a battery pack. Cordless screw guns give you more freedom to move as you wish but may require charging more often than you’d like.
  • Power – Most drylining screw guns pack a similar punch. However, if you’re plasterboard is thicker or tougher than others, you may need a gun with a bit more power behind it.

To use a drylining screw gun, simply hold is as you would a drill or impact driver. Position the driver directly over the spot you wish to screw, and pull the trigger. Simple as that!

Laser Level

 

dewalt laser level

If you don’t want your plasterboard, screws, bolts, and anything else involved in your drylining project to be askew, you need a laser level. Laser levels project a straight beam across a surface so you can mark various points along the same axis you wish to work on. You can do this across a horizontal or vertical line, so no matter if you’re working on a wall, floor, or anything in between, you can be sure your line is as straight as can be.

Not all laser levels are the same, so you should consider the following before you decide on one:

  • Distance and Accuracy – Laser levels lose power and sometimes accuracy at the maximum end of their beam projection. Make sure you get a laser level with a longer distance than the room you’re working on. Then, you can be sure the laser level is accurate even when you’re projecting across a longer distance.
  • Red vs. Green Beam – Laser levels come with a red or green beam colour, or sometimes both depending on the product. While green beams are easier for the eye to see, they also typically use more energy. Red beam laser levels will extend the battery life and will also be easier to spot outside.
  • Battery Type – All laser levels today are battery-powered, but some may have a rechargeable battery pack while others rely on disposables. Disposables will last longer but you’ll never have to replace a rechargeable pack.

To use a laser level, position the beam along the axis you wish to mark or compare. Place it on the most level surface you can find to ensure the beam is accurate.

Nail Gun

dewalt framing nailgun

While the previous tools can be used on the plasterboard for dry lining, nail guns are only meant to install the track systems that hold plasterboard in place. 

Gas powered nailguns are perfect for fixing to metal and concrete and framing nailguns are good for wooden timber builds.

The type of nail gun best suited to your project will vary depending on what type of material you’re nailing.

You have a few different types of nail guns to choose from, so consider the following when browsing the products available:

  • 18 Gauge vs. 23 Gauge – Nailers are specifically tailored for finer detail work or big projects on tough materials. 18-gauge nailers have less power behind them, but will typically be plenty for any dry lining job. You won’t need a 23-gauge nailer for applying plasterboard, but you may use one for the framing outline.
  • Power Source – Nailguns are pneumatic, electric, or cordless. Pneumatic guns are the most powerful, preferred for an industrial scale. Electric nailers need to be plugged into a power source whenever they’re used and don’t pack as much of a punch but are usually cheaper. Cordless nailers run on battery power, so they’re more portable and have decent power as well.
  • Finish vs. Framing – For dry lining, you won’t need to use a framing nailer unless you’re constructing the structure that will support the plasterboard. Finish nailers are lighter and better for smaller projects and detail work.

To correctly use a nailer for dry lining, always check the parts to make sure they’re in their correct place and don’t look broken. Load the nail into the chamber, position the tip of the nailer against the target surface, and pull the trigger. You can adjust the depth if necessary, so test it on another surface to make sure you have the correct measurement set.

Hammer Drill

makita hammer drill

No matter what DIY project you’re tackling, a hammer drill is one of the best tools to have on hand. It saves you the time and energy you might spent endlessly hammering nails. While it is very similar to other types of drills and nail guns, hammer drills excel at boring holes into tough materials like concrete or masonry. For dry lining, you may need this tool to help set up the structural framework before you get to plastering.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about hammer drills:

  • Size – Your hammer drill’s bit size will affect how powerful it is, as a 1″ is much stronger than a 1/2″. However, bigger isn’t always better. A large bit size might be good for concrete or masonry but might destroy wood or plasterboard.
  • Speed – How fast the hammer drill’s motor runs will affect how quickly you can finish the job. Aim for a hammer drill with an RPM of 2000+ and you won’t ever have to worry about how fast your tool is.
  • Power – The motor also influences how powerful your hammer drill is. More amps mean more power, and the best drills will have different settings to limit or increase the amount of output.

Use a hammer drill as you would any other type of drill, marking the point and pulling the trigger on the spot you wish to penetrate.

Circular Saw

You may need to cut pieces of plaster to fit the dimensions of the surface you’re applying them to. A circular saw is the perfect tool to get this part of the job done. A circular saw has an abrasive or “toothed” metal disk that rotates at an extremely high speed, cutting through almost anything in its path.

The more teeth a circular saw has, the more slow and precise the cut will be. For plasterboard, however, you won’t need the most powerful blade as the material is softer than wood or metal.

Consider the following when looking through available circular saws:

  • Corded vs. Cordless – Corded circular saws have a reliable power source that won’t run out on you when you’re in the middle of a task. However, cordless circular saws can be used almost anywhere as they aren’t reliant on a connection to an external power source.
  • Sidewinder vs. Worm drive – Sidewinder saws have a motor that runs along the same axis as the blade, while worm drive saws’ motor sits at a right degree angle to the blade. Worm drive saws are typically more powerful but you will probably only need a sidewinder saw for drylining projects as plasterboard is a very soft material.
  • Circular Saw Blades – You can get different types of circular saw blades that are better for cutting specific materials. For drylining, aim for a steel blade, high-speed steel blade, or carbon tipped blade to make the best cut on plasterboard or wood.

To use a circular saw, set up your table and saw so that you can feed the plaster towards your body, cutting fluid with precise motion. Always be careful with circular saws as they’re one of the most dangerous tools you can use.

Hand Tools

Hand tools are very basic tools that don’t require a power source and need only your hands to operate. You may already know most of these, but we’ll go over exactly what they are and how to use them for your drylining project.

Plastering Tape

Tape is one of those things you should have around, regardless of whether or not you have a drylining project to finish. 

There are two types of tape that you can use for a dry lining job:

  • Jointing Tape – Otherwise known as paper tape, jointing tape is great for angled joints or corners. However, it isn’t self-adhesive, meaning you’ll have to apply an adhesive substance on the area before you apply the tape.
  • Scrim Tape – A relatively new product, scrim tape is self-adhesive and contains waterproof fibreglass material. Although it sticks better to flat surfaces than jointing tape, it’s not as efficient in small corners or angled fixings. It’s also more expensive, so it might not be the most economical option for a big job.

When you use drylining tape, make sure there are no air bubbles or uneven coverage as it can affect the paint job that comes after. Use your putty knife or trowels to apply a nice, smooth finish to the tape after administering the adhesive material, if necessary.

Knife

A high-quality, all-purpose utility knife is an incredibly useful thing to have around for a dry lining job. You can make quick cuts on plaster, cut bags of mixer or adhesive open, and notch markings for cuts or measurements.

There are so many knives on the market nowadays, so here’s a handy guide for getting a knife good for dry lining:

  • Materials – Your knife should be durable enough to make cuts through plasterboard and any other material you might use throughout the dry lining process. As such, look for a blade made out of a high-quality steel alloy, which is light and strong.
  • Knife Type – You’ll probably want a standard foldable or camping/hiking knife for a dry lining project. Fixed blade knives are too dangerous to carry on stilts and often bulky, while other specialized types are unnecessary for simple cuts made during dry lining.

How to use a utility knife is obvious, but always remember to make cuts away from your body. Otherwise, the material could give way too quickly and your knife could end up in a place it shouldn’t.

Plasterer’s trowels

plasterers trowel

Plastering trowels are used to evenly apply plaster on various surfaces, reinforcing walls, ceilings, and partitions. They’re one of those tools that don’t have much use outside of plastering, but you won’t be able to complete a dry lining job without one.

Although most plasterers trowels look very similar, there are some key differences to keep in mind:

  • Size – Plasterer’s trowels go from small (around 11″) to large (around 13″). Large trowels let you apply more plaster while performing fewer strokes, but require more skill, strength, and technique to be used correctly. Small trowels are easier for beginners, often leaving fewer trowel marks on the plaster but requiring more passes of the tool to cover the same surface area. If this is your first dry lining project, use small trowels as they are typically the safest bet.
  • Material – Most plasterers trowels are made from some type of steel, but there are plastic ones available as well. Steel tends to rust quickly but maintains its edge the best out of other materials. Stainless steel is great for preventing rust but tends to bend more easily than basic steel. Plastic won’t rust but also has the chance for bending or snapping if even force is applied.

Using plasterers trowels can take some practice. Scoop the plaster onto the trowel and apply it to the wall in a smooth and fluid motion, making sure that the plaster is evenly spread through the area. Practice scooping the plaster before you apply it so you can continue the process quickly without having to stop and fix the plaster.

Pouch

Anyone embarking on a dry lining project needs a good tool pouch, or tool belt, to have easy access to their small tools when they need them. It should have enough loops and pouches for you to store hammers, knife, trowel, or maybe even a drill. Even more important, it has to be comfortable, especially if you’re using plasterers stilts.

  • Materials – A tool pouch is only as good as the materials it’s made from. Aim for pouches made from leather, polypropylene, polyester, canvas cloth, or nylon to get the most use out of it as possible.
  • Design – Some bags are designed with specific tools in mind. For dry lining, make sure the loops and pockets are sizeable enough for the tools you need for whatever step you’re on. Also, test out your setup before you start dry lining, as you may find that can’t grab a tool as easy as you thought once you’re up on a ladder.
  • Weight Capacity – Every pouch has a specific weight capacity. To ensure your pouch is up to handling all of your tools, weigh them out first. If they weigh more than what the pouch can carry, then you’ll have to opt for another product.

Simply load up your pouch with your tools, strap it on, and you’re ready to go!

Plasterer’s Stilts

plasterers stilts

Although they may take some getting used to, plasterers stilts can be an incredibly useful tool to have for your dry lining project. They save you time from climbing up and down the ladder, and high ceilings are always within reach. Not only that, but they’re often safer than ladders as well, remaining stable as you move around.

Here are some things to keep in mind before you buy a pair of plasterers stilts:

  • Weight – Plasterer’s stilts are designed to support a certain amount of weight. Go for a pair that can support more than your body weight, as you’ll be holding your other tools are you work. They should also be lightweight, so search for stilts made of high-grade, durable aluminium.
  • Height Range – You should be able to reach the ceiling, or at least as high as you want to go, with your plasterer’s stilts. Some stilts are adjustable, great for plastering surfaces at different levels. Get stilts that have a good range for your project but also remain stable at their upper limits.
  • Safety – Always get used to your pair before you try more complex movement. If the size doesn’t feel right or you don’t like the material, consider getting another pair. Always prioritize your safety over the convenience plasterers stilts offer.

Using plasterer’s stilts is easier than you might think. Simply secure the straps to your feet and legs and start to stand by supporting yourself on a wall or sturdy surface. If any straps are missing, don’t use the stilts until they’ve been replaced. Also, remember to wear appropriate footwear like a work boot before using them because the straps often won’t fit normal sports shoes.