I am trying to install drywall in a room with sloped ceiling joists. The joists are roughly 30 inches on center, so I need to install 1x3 strapping in order to give me surface to screw the drywall to AND to provide a level surface for the drywall to sit on.

I've seen many tutorials on how to level/shim a flat ceiling, but have not seen a technique on how to level a SLOPED ceiling.

Do I need a laser level, chalk line, shims? Or can I get away with a long level and some string? Anyone who can sort of outline the process is appreciated!

  • 2
    How do you level a sloped ceiling? Really does not make sense, I think what you are really asking is "How do I even out the 1x3 stripping to produce a flat surface?"
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 24, 2017 at 14:57
  • @MichaelKaras Re-read my title. "Best method to level 1x3 strapping....". Obviously I want the strapping level for flat drywall installation. Thanks.
    – tresstylez
    Sep 24, 2017 at 15:34
  • Not at all obvious. A level ceiling would be like the conventional horizontal ceiling. A sloped ceiling is not level. What you are aiming for is flatness and eveness.
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 24, 2017 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


This is less hard than you think. Last one I did was ~10x20, and it took about 4 hours. A laser is extremely helpful for this task, though I suppose you could do it with string and a bubble stick. (It is, however, too early in the morning for me to think my way through all that, so my instructions have frikkin' laser beams.)

Cross-strap the ceiling 16" OC with one small, smooth (like, 15g, 2" is good -- no spiral or ring shank) nail per joist intersection. Plan ahead for sheets of drywall.

Find your lowest spot. This is where everything is coming down to. Make a story stick (a couple of inches shorter than your low spot) and push it up to the low spot. Mark the laser location on the stick. (Mark the stick with "this way up" if you're having one of those days.)

Now, for every intersection, tap the strapping down so that your story stick mark matches the laser. Shim as you go, but don't put final nails/screws through yet.

Once the whole room is done, doublecheck with the story stick. You can be as precise as you want, but if you had, say, cabinetry and crown, then you'd want to be super accurate in those areas.

Snug the shims and nail or screw everything off. If you don't nail through the shims, you can make micro-adjustments afterwards. I've found that 2 nails per junction of 2-1/2" non-smooth sheathing nails are perfectly adequate to hold up the strapping and rock. Doublecheck if you want.

Slight ps, I use 1x4 to give a bit more wiggle room and allow for not-exactly-straight-stock. The upcharge is nominal.

Double ps, this assumes a ceiling only slightly out of level -- up to 1". On second read, I'm thinking there's a possibility that you're dealing with a very sloped ceiling that you're trying to flatten. ("Level" might have confused me, as it's a term with very specific meaning in my world.) If so, do all the cross-strapping and light nailing, then use a web of string to bring all the junctions to the right point.

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