Installing Gypsum Board in Cold Weather

Falling temperatures can pose challenges

Home addition newly drywalled
Steven Puetzer/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Before you begin your gypsum board installation project, it's important to plan ahead. For one, understand that cold weather and winter conditions can affect the performance and behavior of your gypsum board partition and walls in a variety of ways. If you don't want to run into problems, however, you can take measures to stop them before they begin.

Use the tips that follow about gypsum board installation--on interior walls, partitions and ceilings--to get the product finished how it should be and in a way that will reduce problems on the project.

Thickness Matters

During installations, it's important to use the thickness and type of gypsum board appropriate for the specific project to avoid sagging, especially on ceilings. Moreover, in cold weather, project workers should be sure to use setting type joint compound because it can minimize finishing problems.

Take Care With Ventilation Systems

Caution is required when using ventilation systems. That's because some ventilation systems will generate high humid conditions, which can affect the material being placed.

Also, if you need to use a temporary heat source during the project, take care not to exceed 95 degrees.

Caution With Compounds

If your project requires ready-mixed joint compounds and textures, know that they're prone to freezing while in storage. Take measures to protect these materials when temperatures plummet. In addition, remember not to apply joint compound to cold or damp surfaces.

Ideal Temperatures for Your Project

Knowing which temperatures are ideal before you begin your project, or phases of it, can help you avoid some of the headaches that might arise when building during cold weather. For example, interior temperatures should be no colder than 50 degrees for at least two days before tapping and finishing.

This will allow having a completely dried gypsum board.

If different techniques or additional texturing are required, do not apply them until the previous coating has dried completely. For mechanical installation of gypsum board, room temperature should be no colder than 40 degrees.

If you are mixing materials that are going to be applied to the gypsum board, you must have a steady temperature, not colder than 50 degrees for two days, from the start of the mix until the product has been applied and has dried. If temperatures fall lower during that time frame, this part of the project should be delayed until you can begin in the right temperature conditions.

The Importance of Latex Primer and Vapor Retarders

Before you decorate the gypsum board, experts strongly recommended first applying a latex primer to the surface. Once you perform this step, provide enough time for the primer to dry.

If a vapor retarder is required, then you must use foil backed gypsum or glass fiber insulation batts. If a polyethylene vapor retarder film, specifically, is installed on ceilings behind the gypsum board, it is important to install the blanket ceiling insulation before the gypsum board. If loose fill insulation is used, install the insulation immediately after the gypsum board.

Heeding this advice may not eliminate all cold weather problems but should minimize them as much as you can possibly control.