What does a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer do?

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What is a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer?

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboards to walls and ceilings inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboards for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers do both installing and taping. Drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers spend most of the day standing, bending, or stretching. Injuries include falls from ladders or stilts, cuts from sharp tools, and muscle strains from lifting heavy materials. The work also can be dusty, irritating the skin, eyes, and lungs.

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What does a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer do?

Some responsibilities of a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer include:

  • Reviewing design plans to minimize the number of cuts and waste of wallboard
  • Measuring the location of electrical outlets, plumbing, windows, and vents
  • Cutting drywall to the right size, using utility knives and power saws
  • Fastening drywall panels to interior wall studs, using nails or screws
  • Trimming and smoothing rough edges so boards join evenly

Ceiling tile installers typically do the following:

  • Measure according to blueprints or drawings
  • Nail or screw supports
  • Put tiles or sheets of shock-absorbing materials on ceilings
  • Keep the tile in place with cement adhesive, nails, or screws

Tapers typically do the following:

  • Prepare wall surface (wallboard) by patching nail holes
  • Apply tape and use sealing compound to cover joints between wallboards
  • Apply additional coats of sealing compound to create an even surface
  • Sand all joints and holes to a smooth, seamless finish

Installers are also called framers or hangers. Tapers are also called finishers. Ceiling tile installers are sometimes called acoustical carpenters because they work with tiles that block sound. Once wallboards are hung, workers use increasingly wider trowels to spread multiple coats of spackle over cracks, indentations, and any remaining imperfections. Some workers may use a mechanical applicator, a tool that spreads sealing compound on the wall joint while dispensing and setting tape at the same time. To work on ceilings, drywall and ceiling tile installers may use mechanical lifts or stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds.

How to become a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer

Although most drywall and ceiling tile installers learn their trade informally on the job, a few learn through a formal apprenticeship. Most drywall and ceiling tile installers learn their trade informally by helping more experienced workers and gradually being given more duties. They start by carrying materials, lifting, and cleaning up. They learn to use the tools of the trade. Then they learn to measure, cut, and install or apply materials. Employers usually give some on-the-job training that may last from 1 to 12 months. A few drywall and ceiling tile installers learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical work and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. During training, apprentices learn construction basics related to blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. After completing an apprenticeship program, drywall and ceiling tile installers are considered journey workers and may perform duties on their own.

Although there are no formal education requirements to become a drywall and ceiling tile installer, high school math and general shop courses are considered useful. Drywall and ceiling tile installers use basic math skills on every job. They must be able to estimate the quantity of materials needed and accurately measure for cutting panels. Standard drywall sheets can weigh 50 to 100 pounds. A drywall and ceiling tile installer must often lift heavy pieces of material over their heads to put on the ceiling. Because drywall and ceiling tile installers constantly lift and move heavy materials into place, they should have excellent physical stamina.

What is the workplace of a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer like?

Drywall and ceiling tile installer and tapers work indoors. As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Workers spend most of the day standing, bending, or stretching, and they often must lift and maneuver heavy, oversized wallboards. To work on ceilings, drywall and ceiling tile installers may have to stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds. Drywall and ceiling tile installers held about 129,600 jobs in 2010, of which 59 percent were employed in the drywall and insulation contractors industry. About 27 percent were self-employed.