Typically, drywall is installed after the windows are in place to ensure a precise wall placement against the window frame.
What do you do if your windows are delayed, and the drywall installers are scheduled to arrive this week?
Is it feasible to install drywall in a house without windows?
It is possible to install drywall before the windows are in place as long as the proper precautions are taken. The room needs to be sealed from rain and dust, and when temperatures are cold, heat must be provided. However, most people wait until the windows go in.
It is also critical to know the exact window measurements, including window casings, before cutting the drywall with a utility knife to fit the openings.
Any gaps between the window and the sheet of drywall need to be filled with thin strips of wood or drywall to ensure a snug fit.
Read on to learn the problems you may face when installing drywall before windows and what to do if your windows are delayed.
Why Installing Drywall Without Windows is Difficult
There are several issues associated with installing drywall without windows.
Windows protect your home by keeping moisture out and providing some insulation against the temperatures outside.
Without this protection, your home is exposed to several potentially damaging elements.
You will have to take extra precautions against mold, mildew, and dirt, and you will need precise window measurements before making any cuts in your drywall sheets.
These extra steps and precautions may cost you more, as well.
You Have To Protect the Drywall from the Elements
Newly constructed houses are wrapped before the siding is added to the outside.
This wrap acts as a vapor barrier to allow internal moisture out by allowing the wall to breathe.
House wraps also prevent mold and mildew by preventing excess moisture from accumulating between the wall and the siding.
You already have an effective moisture barrier if your house is wrapped, but the windows are not cut out yet.
If the windows have already been cut out of the house wrap, you will have to install a clear vinyl wrap to prevent any water from getting inside.
Not only does rain cause drywall around openings to get wet, but it also increases the risk of mold and mildew growth.
High humidity also prevents the joint compound from drying quickly.
In addition to protecting your drywall from moisture, the wrap will keep the wind from blowing leaves, dirt, and dust through the window opening.
To ensure a smooth surface for primer and paint, you need to thoroughly clean any dirt or grime on your walls.
During cold winters, the room you plan to install drywall will need to be heated.
Joint compound will not dry properly in temperatures below 55° degrees Fahrenheit (13° C).
In the summer months, it is best not to install drywall in temperatures higher than 95° degrees Fahrenheit (35° C) because the drywall compound may dry too quickly and become brittle.
Your Measurements Need to Be Precise
When installing drywall before the windows are in place, you will need precise measurements before cutting the drywall.
Mark the wall stud locations with light pencil marks on the ceiling for easier screw placement.
The standard stud spacing is usually 16” inches, but there may be instances of shorter stud spacing.
Marking the placement of wall studs on the ceiling will make drywall installation much easier and prevent you from using a stud finder as you work.
Research the actual window size, and do not forget to consider the window return and any trim going around the frame.
If the hole is too large, there will be a gap between the window return and the wall.
Related: How much gap to have between drywall sheets.
Any edges which project into window openings need to be trimmed with a cut-out tool, so they are flush with the innermost studs.
It is also best to avoid creating a horizontal joint at the corners of window and door openings.
As your house shifts over time, these extra joints will show cracks.
Open spaces will need to be filled with wood shims or drywall shims to ensure the window fits snugly.
You will either need to tape and mud these extra seams or choose a wider window trim to cover them.
Having to make last-minute changes will not only prolong the job but also be extra expenses.
Expect to pay more for expedited shipping of the needed materials.
Your Window Installer May Charge You More
Drywalling before the windows are added costs more in materials and increases the labor for your window installer.
Any time there are changes and uncertainties in a job, the price will almost always go up to account for the new materials and extra labor.
Installing windows after the drywall is finished is more time-consuming since special care needs to be taken to avoid gouges or scuffs on the wall.
The typical wage for a window installer is around $40 per hour, so any extra time spent will add up quickly.
You May Not Pass Local Building Permit Inspections
Depending on where you live and how strict the building codes are in your area, you may not be able to pass your framing inspection without windows.
An inspection issue will delay progress on your home and is often costly.
Electrical and plumbing work is part of a framing inspection, so you will not be able to install drywall until these systems are checked thoroughly.
If the house is not wrapped or the window openings are not sealed properly, it will not pass the framing inspection.
Notify your inspector of any expected delay in window installation so they can properly assess your situation.
What To Do If Your Window Installation Is Delayed
Building a home is a multi-step process with many opportunities for delays.
Supply chain issues in several industries make it more difficult to promptly obtain windows, lumber, appliances, and other building materials.
No matter how meticulous your building plans are or how carefully you budget, sometimes changes are entirely unavoidable.
Hiring the right contractor and scheduling the work is tricky, especially during certain times of the year.
You may be charged a fee for canceling or rescheduling work appointments with a contractor.
If you find yourself expecting a delay in your window installation, you may still be able to move forward with your framing inspection and drywalling if you act quickly.
First, you may be able to pass your framing inspection if the house is wrapped and the windows have not been cut out from the wrap yet.
If the window openings have already been cut from the house wrap, you need to apply a clear wrap to make the holes waterproof.
As long as the house is protected from the outdoor elements, such as moisture and dirt,
Your inspector may provide some leniency on the framing inspection.
If you do not pass the framing inspection and cannot move forward with drywall installation as scheduled, let your drywall contractor know as soon as possible.
Being upfront about problems ahead of time may save you from paying a cancellation fee and make it easier to reschedule in the future.
Related: Best utility knife for drywall.