If drywall is not installed correctly, it will show a lot of defects, especially on the ceiling.
Any uneven areas will become more prominent over time, and your drywall may even start to show cracks.
Ceiling strapping usually prevents defects from forming, but is it necessary?
Strapping your ceiling before installing drywall is not mandatory, but it will prevent any defects. Drywall should never be installed directly onto the ceiling joists because any weight or foot traffic on the floor above will cause the joists to flex, resulting in cracked drywall.
Constant uneven stresses on the ceiling drywall from above may cause it to come off.
Strapping the ceiling prevents these stresses by giving the drywall something to attach to besides the ceiling joists.
Read on to learn why ceiling strapping is essential and how it is installed.
Why Is Ceiling Strapping Used?
Strapping a ceiling involves installing strips of wood perpendicular to the joists to provide a surface to attach the drywall.
Ceiling strapping is also necessary if you have wavy ceiling joists, which are common in some older homes.
Strapping also gives you enough room for nailing for coffered ceiling details.
Without strapping, you would be attaching the drywall directly to the joists, which is not ideal in the long term.
If there is a floor above the ceiling plane, the constant stress of foot traffic and moving furniture will cause the joists to flex.
This constant flexing will cause cracks in the ceiling, and the drywall may come away from the ceiling altogether.
The flat surface you want in a drywall ceiling needs strapping support.
You will also wind up with more seams in your drywall without strapping.
Strapping the expanse of ceiling first gives you ample room for attaching the drywall and creates more even spacing.
Ceiling strapping also dampens noises from the floor above when the right materials are used.
Strapping the ceiling before installing the drywall will save you plenty of headaches down the road and reduce the chance of cracks or uneven areas resulting in a wonky ceiling or even flat-out bad ceilings.
Calculating How Much Strapping You Need
Wood strapping for ceilings is typically done with 1”x3” inch spruce lumber.
The lumber needs to be uniform to ensure an even surface.
Strapping is sold in bundles, and the sizes range from 8’ feet up to 16’ feet.
Purchase the longest strapping possible to install in the space.
To calculate how much strapping you need to buy, start by measuring your ceiling parallel to the joists.
You will then divide the number of inches you measured by 16 and add 1.
This number represents how many straps you need to install.
Next, measure the ceiling perpendicular to the joists; if this number is less than 16’ feet, you will buy one strap for each length.
If the measurement is larger than 16’ feet, you will have to install additional pieces of strapping along each length.
How To Install Ceiling Strapping
The actual installation process for ceiling strapping is not very difficult unless you have a home with vaulted or cathedral ceilings.
Before installing the strapping for the ceiling, you will need to inspect it to ensure there are no significant problems with the structure of the joists.
You will also need to take care of any plumbing or electrical issues before the ceiling is sealed.
The ceiling strapping must be installed with 16” inches of on-center spacing, and it must be perpendicular to the joists.
On-center installation is crucial because the strapping will share two pieces of drywall every 4’ feet.
This means the center of the third piece of strapping from the wall must be 4’ feet away from the edge.
To ensure the strapping is in a straight line and is perpendicular to the wall, snap a chalk line across the joists after taking your measurements.
Using the proper nails for the job is essential to prevent the strapping from pulling away from the joists.
If you do not use the correct nails to attach the strapping, you will likely end up with a collapsed ceiling, which is less than ideal.
The correct nail size for strapping is 10d nails, and you will use two nails at each intersection of a ceiling joist and the strapping.
A nail gun makes the job much faster and easier.
Never use finishing nails to attach the strapping to the joists because they are not strong enough.
Using finishing nails will cause the strapping to pull away from the ceiling joists very easily.
Screws may also be used, but they are more time-consuming, and the job will take a bit longer than it would if you were using 10d nails and a framing nailer.
Once the strapping is installed, begin your ceiling drywall installation.
Commonly Asked Questions
Is it better to screw or nail drywall?
Nails are flexible and hold up well against lateral force, but a drywall screw provides a stronger grip and added tensile strength.
Using screws ensures the drywall does not pull away from the studs.
Related: Can you see studs through your drywall?
This is incredibly important when installing drywall on the ceiling, which ultimately receives more stress than a wall.
The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time, money, and effort on strapping your ceiling only to mess up the drywall installation and have your ceiling fall down.
Should you stagger drywall joints on a ceiling?
While it is not necessary to stagger the drywall joints on a ceiling, it is recommended to do so.
Taping and mudding drywall seams on a ceiling are sometimes tricky, and the job must be done well.
Related: Can you use masking tape for drywall?
Even minor defects are highly noticeable on a ceiling, mainly where there are butt joints.
Staggering the drywall panels on the ceiling makes the joints less visible, and you will end up with a much nicer finished ceiling.
How far apart should drywall screws be on a ceiling?
The standard placement for screws in ceiling drywall is 12” inches apart, except for edges 7-8” inches apart.
Drywall screw placement on walls is generally around 16” inches apart.
However, due to gravitational pull and stress on the ceiling joists from the floor above, you must use more screws to ensure the drywall is completely secure on a ceiling surface.