How to Paint Sheetrock (AKA Drywall)
Painting the sheetrock is just the final step in installing new sheetrock, and it is unclear where in the installation do the steps in painting the sheetrock begin. First of all, the word "Sheetrock" is a brand name of USG's gypsum drywall and associated products. The word has unofficially become a common noun interchangeable with the word "drywall" to mean gypsum wallboards. The term "drywall" is used to distinguish wall boards from wet walls, which are made when plaster is applied wet to form the interior wall.
Before the Painting Can Begin
Once the sheetrock has been screwed in place, the joints between the wallboards have to be filled with joint compound. Corners of the room and joints between the walls and ceiling will be covered with beads, which are plastic strips that are angled ninety degrees lengthwise down the middle of the strip, so they can cover the seams where two walls meet at a right angle. The point junctions between three walls that meet at right angles are covered with caps. The seams and joints where the joint compound was filled in need to be covered with a couple of thin coats of joint compound, the mesh tape applied, and when this dries, a few more coats of joint compound. This should hide the seam and make the wall smoothly continuous from board to board.
Preparation of the Sheetrock Wall
Wear goggles and a dust mask to protect the eyes and lungs from the sanding dust, and there will be a lot of it. The wallboard can be very sanded with a drywall sander to make the walls as smooth as possible. Any nicks, scrapes, or popped nails need to be repaired with joint compound and a wide blade spreader, then allowed to dry and sanded. Clean all the sanding dust off the walls by using a slightly damp cloth. The remaining dust should be removed from the floor near the walls with a dry vacuum. Observe all safety precaution when working with drywall dust. Care must be taken to remove all of the sanding dust from the walls or it will give the final painted surface a gritty, sandy appearance and also endanger the health of the person working with it.
Make the First Coat Count
Priming the bare walls is important. The primer should be chosen with attention to the fact that sheetrock is a porous surface, and paint can soak into the walls and have a transparent effect called photographing. Therefore a product that combines a primer and a sealant should be chosen. The primer can be tinted the color of the paint. If possible, have the walls spray painted with a primer surface as the first coat. Another option would be a good latex paint with a flat or satin finish as a first coat. Apply the first coat thickly with a one-eighth inch to one-quarter inch nap paint roller after cutting in with a brush. Do not rework the strokes as this can loosen the seam tape and joint compound layers and mar the surface of the sheetrock. Get it right the first time.
Paint or Texture the Walls
If the sheetrock is covering the ceiling, a texture may be desirable to reduce reflectivity and enhance diffusion of light. Apply this to the ceiling after the primer dries. The primer can be applied white or tinted with the color of the walls. On the walls, the sheetrock can be painted with a good latex paint. Apply the paint thickly as before, taking care not to rework the painted area. Applying the paint heavily will help reduce the visibility of the imperfections. Let the primer and the two coats of paint dry thoroughly between coats, sanding any imperfections and taking care to removing the dust between applications.