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This past weekend, I had some help carrying eight 4x8 sheets of type X drywall up a flight of stairs. It was not easy. I know the sheets couldn't have weighed more than 80 lbs, but it felt like they weighed a ton. I need to get more up the same flight, but won't have help this time and I am not keen to paying a few hundred bucks to have it done.

Some research has lead me to the Gorilla Gripper and PanelHandle. I've read that the Gorilla Gripper can damage drywall. Haven't found much else about the PanelHandle. However, the demos I've seen on YouTube show them using it to carry sheets of plywood.

I ended up getting a hand-held panel carrier from Lowe's last week thinking it would help. It goes under the sheet and you lift it with your right hand and hold the top of the sheet with your left (or the other way around). It turned out not to help at all.

I really like the Gorilla Gripper provided that it doesn't damage drywall.

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If you end up using the Gorilla Gripper, it could benefit future users if you wrote a review of it for the blog ;) –  Tester101 Dec 3 '11 at 15:17
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I think I will be ordering one from Amazon and use Greebo's idea of putting a larger piece of wood between it and the drywall. I will certainly post my results. –  oscilatingcretin Dec 3 '11 at 18:48
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I like my cheap plastic panel carry. What problems did you have with the one you tried? –  Doresoom Dec 20 '11 at 17:18
    
I tried it in several different positions beneath the sheet and keeping it stable was a pain. I also like how the Gorilla Gripper grabs the top, whereas, with the panel carry, you need to lift the sheet and work the carrier into the right position beneath. The Gorilla Gripper may cost more, but I am willing to pay extra for those little things that make life easier for the simple DIY'er. –  oscilatingcretin Dec 20 '11 at 17:40

8 Answers 8

Grab with left and right hand, board behind your back, lift and up you go.

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I've been doing drywall carry-ins for a living since 2006 now and I have found that the only tools that really work are the ones that you were born with. I purchased the Stanley Panel Carry thinking that it would be the cure-all end-all for my drywall carrying woes, but discarded it after attempting to carry only a few sheets. Although the Gorilla Gripper might be ok for carrying it across an even surface, in my experience such tools do not work so well to tackle stairs or uneven terrain. BMitch was right on the money with his reply. I always work with a partner when carrying in 12' sheets two at a time, and the only way I have found is as BMitch stated by locking one arm straight down with your fingers under the drywall, and placing the other arm over your head to steady it. It also helps to lean the sheet of drywall into your shoulder to take some of the stress off the elbow of your extended arm. I sure wish that there was an easier way to carry drywall.I know that I sure would have gave it a shot on the 250 12' sheets we carried in today, and maybe there is, but I sure haven't found one yet. Best luck.

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There are two ways to rotate the lower hand for the grip. I much prefer the backhanded grip. –  mike Aug 7 '13 at 2:39
    
12' sheets are another beast entirely. 4x8 sheets of heavy type x weighing in at around 75 lbs per sheet is what my question is about. It's comparable to the weight of 4x8 OSB subfloor. Since the posting of this question, I have carried in more sheets of type x, OSB subfloor, and also 85-lb sheets of 4x8 QuietRock 525 than I can even be bothered to count. Nothing to date has come close to the Gorilla gripper for being able to transport heavy, awkward panels when I have no help. –  oscilatingcretin Aug 7 '13 at 11:01

A good trick for carrying similarly-sized plywood is to use a prybar as an arm extender, as shown here. I haven't ever tried with with drywall panels though.

guy carrying a plywood panel with a prybar

Picture from Popular Mechanics.

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Use an old rug to slide it across level floors, and a 24" wide piece of cardboard to go up steps. Sliding them is easy; I brought my 30x80" oak doors up two flights with a drywall carrier. Have a helper, keep whatever you're carrying steady, and take breaks because they get heavy.

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there is a better product currently in testing which is made in Australia, it can support over 100kgs of board and the sizes of course can vary, not sure but i think its called ezy lift i think im not to sure, i recomend it 110%

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Sorry but I don't think this is very helpful to the general audience of the site - it's a product in testing and you're not even sure of the name. –  Steven Feb 13 '13 at 2:41
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I really hate to answer my own question here since Greebo and BMitch contributed well to my inquiry.

I have never handled full sheets of drywall before, so I did not realize that type X drywall was actually a lot heavier than regular drywall. I figured this out when I bought a 4x8 sheet of 1/2" regular drywall to close up a window in my house. I was able to lift it with my bare hands with relative ease. I can only assume that, while 5/8" would be heavier, I would still be able to lift it myself. BMitch's answer satisfies that situation very well, but 5/8" type X weighing in a 72+ pounds is another story.

So I bought a Gorilla Gripper and it worked wonders for carrying the type X which actually appears to be as heavy or heavier than 4x8x23/32 OSB. Since type X is so dense compared to regular drywall, I didn't have to worry about putting a protective piece of wood in between the Gorilla Gripper's clamp and the drywall. However, if I ever did need to carry regular drywall with the Gorilla Gripper, I'd definitely consider going with Greebo's suggestion lest I choose to risk damaging the drywall due to its flimsiness, an especial hazard when turning corners.

You won't be able to use the Gorilla Gripper to take a full sheet up a flight of steps, though. In this case, if you're doing it alone, set aside the Gripper, grab the drywall by the top and bottom end, and pull/slide it up the steps. I have carpeted steps, so it was easy to slide. If you're dealing with wood or concrete steps, I would either cover the steps with a thick dropcloth or consult the help of a friend.

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There's a reason that stuff takes twice as long to burn through. And sadly, it also means it's a pain to lift. Thanks for following up. +1 –  BMitch Dec 20 '11 at 14:54
    
That's a nice tool. A likely less expensive option are those 'reach extenders'. Not sure the name, but it's basically just a 2' long hook designed to let you easily grab the bottom of the Sheetrock with one hand on the grip and steady it with the other. –  DA01 Oct 31 '12 at 21:54
    
You talking about a panel carry? If so, I commented about that in the comment section beneath my question. –  oscilatingcretin Oct 31 '12 at 22:18

For moving 1/2" 4x8 sheets on a level surface, I just do it myself without the fancy tools. Lock one arm straight down with fingers under the drywall, and the other arm over your head to steady it. Wear gloves to keep from destroying your hands (construction gloves with a good grip, not the thick yard gloves or your nice winter gloves). If you're balanced in the center of the board, and your back is straight, it's not too bad. The weight of the board will be in your lower hand and resting against your shoulder, the top hand is just to steady it. Alternate hands and take breaks to avoid straining yourself.

Since you have stairs involved, I'd bribe a friend with a case of beer. It gets complicated since you have to hold the board at an angle. You end up griping it much tighter on the bottom to keep it from sliding out of your hand, and your top hand is now doing a lot more support to keep it from falling. The tools wouldn't be much help here either.

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These are 5/8" sheets. I had help last weekend and it made it a lot easier, but it was still a beast. I don't know how someone can do one sheet on their own even though I've seen YouTube videos of normal-sized guys carrying about 50 sheets in. Going up the steps isn't so bad as I am able to pull and slide it up. I was on the top end last weekend and my help had to actually keep up with me as I pulled it up, so I think my main issue is carrying it on flat ground. Maybe I will just need to practice. I think I am ordering a Gorilla Gripper anyway, so we'll see how it goes. –  oscilatingcretin Dec 3 '11 at 14:51
    
I stop at 1/2", 5/8" will put me over my limit. Good luck with the GG, let us know how it goes. You might want to give it a try in the store before you're stuck with a load of drywall and no easy way up. –  BMitch Dec 3 '11 at 16:39

The way the GG would damage the drywall is by putting too much torque pressure on a single spot while you're lifting, since the GG is naturally going to want to twist the panel at the point it grips, given the way you have to hold it.

You probably can protect the drywall by using a foot long or so piece of 1/2" thick wood (like a strip of plywood cut to 3" x 12") putting it on the far side of the panel as you clamp with the GG. That way the wood will absorb the torque pressure and distribute it more evenly along the drywall making it less likely to snap at the pressure point.

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That sounds like a good idea as it will help disperse the pressure over a wider area. I will probably apply some type of non-slip rubber surface to one side of the wood to make sure it doesn't slip away from the drywall. I think this will work so long as I turn slowly. –  oscilatingcretin Dec 3 '11 at 18:45

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