Q: We are putting up gypsum board for a ceiling in a storage shed that we are refurbishing. My husband uses his head along with his arms to hold up the board while he screws the sheet onto the ceiling. I suggested that he make a wooden T-brace to hold up the board. I try to help by holding up the board and keeping it in position. I am wondering if the weight of the board on the top of his head could cause some harm by breaking a blood vessel or other? He also cut the board in half so we could maneuver it more easily so he is working with half sheets.

A: We always recommend that you use your head when doing any kind of construction project.

But what we mean by that is to think the project through and plan it before you start. We don’t mean using your head as a tool. Not that we haven’t done it.

Seriously, we don’t think there is much danger of your husband breaking a blood vessel in his head while hanging Sheetrock. But we do know a better way to do it.

Over the years, we’ve installed and finished hundreds of sheets of drywall. We’ve muscled it in place more times than we’d care to remember. We’ve used our heads to hold it in place. We’ve also used a “T” made of 2-by-4s. But the best thing we’ve found to make hanging drywall on a ceiling tolerable (it’s never easy) for the nonprofessional is a drywall lift.

A drywall lift is a mechanical table that can be adjusted from a vertical to a horizontal position and then cranked to the ceiling.

With the table in the vertical position, place a piece of drywall on the lift. Lifts are equipped with stops that look like hooks on the bottom so a sheet of drywall can be secured on the table when it is vertical. Pivot the table to the horizontal position and crank the sheet to the ceiling.

Lifts are equipped with wheels so that the sheet can be maneuvered into position easily. The stops are spring-loaded so as they press against a sheet installed on the ceiling they retract. In this way you can fine-tune the positioning.

Assuming your ceiling is square, getting that first sheet in the right place will save you a lot of cutting and fitting on later sheets.

Drywall lifts are readily available at many tool rental stores. They should cost $35 to $40 per day. They’re worth every penny.

Unfortunately, we didn’t discover this handy device until we’d hung 150 pieces of ceiling Sheetrock in Kevin’s house in Idaho. The good news is that neither of us broke a blood vessel (or a bone) in our head. Although there are times that Kevin’s wife, Heidi, questions that.


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