For reasons including time, money, ease of installation, and structural strength, should drywall be installed horizontally or vertically.

  • 1
    Manufacturers instructions (note chapter 3, cladding)
    – BMitch
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:30
  • I like BMitch's comments and Herrbag's insight on this. I think there are two topics that I haven't seen covered that I have always wondered about. Which way allows for more structural movement (seasonal changes to framing or even warping) and then for the average joe (lets assume that it is not feasible to have a 100% perfectly flat join) is it easier to see ridges for horizontal or vertical?
    – DMoore
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 17:20
  • 1
    Without using Herrbag's technique, no one has a flat join on the butt joints, only the beveled ones are easy to fill with mud and tape to make them perfectly flat. For the butt joints, it's all about how good you are at mudding and using a wide taping knife to make the ridge nearly invisible.
    – BMitch
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 19:58

16 Answers 16


A: Horizontal

Aesthetically, a vertical install can look very nice since you don't have any butt joints between two non-beveled edges. Those non-beveled edges create 4' long humps that can be seen with careful observation (and more so with a bad mudding job).

However, for structural shear strength, drywall is typically installed horizontally. This bridges the most studs together on a single sheet of drywall to resist the shearing forces on the wall. You also maximize this strength by offsetting the joints. The result of two offset sheets of drywall are similar to placing a long diagonal brace from the top corner of the upper sheet to the opposite corner of the lower sheet.

As an added benefit, horizontal installs result in an easy taping joint at waist height, reduces the effect of any cupping of the studs, and is much easier to correct for a slightly mis-located stud (you're only trimming a short non-beveled edge as opposed to the full length of a finished beveled edge).

That said, for non-load bearing walls, particularly in an office environment where metal studs are being used, a vertical install may be done for speed. It's also more practical for tall ceilings where you would need 3 or more sheets of drywall to hang it horizontally. I will also do a vertical install on any wall that's 4' wide or less since it results in single sheet without any joint to mud.

  • and the tape line can be concealed handily with a chair rail (physical or visual)
    – warren
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 20:26

Horizontal: Pros will fit top piece to ceiling first and cutoff bottom piece for a 1/4 to 1/2 gap at floor. The tapered joint is easy to fill.

You can also get a tapered butt joint by hanging the butt ends between studs and using a floating backer with a depressed center area that forms the "butt taper". They are available commercially or can be homemade. This is the easiest way to get a "dead-flat" ceiling (or wall) when only the best will do.

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  • 5
    +1 for pointing out the butt joint depresser board concept. I've seen them used and do truly offer the opportinity for the flattest surface.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 19:46

According to Chapter 3 of the Gypsum Construction Handbook, published by USG, manufacturer of SHEETROCK® Brand Gypsum Panels...

Perpendicular vs. Parallel Application

Gypsum board may be applied perpendicular (long edges of board at right angles to the framing members) or parallel (long edges parallel to framing). Fire-rated partitions may require parallel application. (See Chapter 10 for specific information on fire-rated systems.)

Perpendicular application is generally preferred because it offers the following advantages:

  1. Reduces the lineal footage of joints to be treated by up to 25%.
  2. Strongest dimension of board runs across framing members.
  3. Bridges irregularities in alignment and spacing of frame members.
  4. Better bracing strength—each board ties more frame members together than does parallel application.
  5. Horizontal joints on wall are at a convenient height for finishing.

For wall application, if ceiling height is 8'-1" or less, perpendicular application of standard 4' wide panels results in fewer joints, easier handling and less cutting. If ceiling height is greater than 8'-1", or wall is 4' or less wide, parallel application is more practical.

Walls ranging in height from 8'-1" to 9'-1" can be clad with perpendicular 54" wide panels to eliminate the addition of more joints. (See Sheetrock brand gypsum panels—54" in Chapter 1.)

For ceiling application, use whichever method—parallel or perpendicular—results in fewer joints, or is required by frame spacing limitations

For double-layer ceiling application, apply base-layer boards perpendicular to frame members; apply the face layer parallel to framing with joints offset. On walls, apply the base layer parallel with long edges centered on framing; apply face layer perpendicular.


Vertical Only, here’s the proof & truth!

Why and How Horizontal’s Wrong (and why Vertical’s right)...don’t ruin new from the start:

1 – Defective Seam - Horizontal rows needing more than one drywall panel creates (instead of avoids) butt-joint humps, which are not flat and are a twice (minimum) the effort defect. Outlet and switch cover-plates, window and door trim, baseboards, pictures, mirrors and cabinets don’t sit flat. Using any "butt-joint product" erases all "claimed" benefits of Horizontal!

2 – Unsupported Seam – Horizontal’s tapered edge is 90% unsupported, only 10% (instead of Vertical's 100%) contacts framing, the seam will and does crack. Light switch and countertop electrical boxes within the seam equals more weakness and butt-joint doubled, minimum, efforts.

3 – Structural Defect - Horizontal only reinforces a wall height of 4’ or less, a full-height wall's top-plate is never connected to the bottom plate. As in and due to #2 above, Frictional Contact is minimized (instead of maximized by Vertical).

4 – Seam Deception...4'x8' Panels – Example 1: 48” tall by 102” long wall, Horizontal = 48” (technically) and it’s a 24” wide butt-joint or a minimum of doubling the 48" (Vertical = the same, generously, 96” but they’re easy 6” wide joints). Example 2: 96” tall by 102” long wall, Horizontal = 222” with 50% being 24” wide butts (Vertical = 192” of 6” wide easy joints, yes less)...in a Kitchen Horizontal = 100% of 24” wide butts (Vertical = 0%). Yes, Horizontal does the taper area twice (minimum) in order to hide its butts, so very minimally just another 24” was added and #5 below was not factored into Horizontal's monumental fraud.

5 – Self-Defeating Angles – Horizontal only uses one of a panel’s tapered edges and puts the other taper at the ceiling corner and baseboard creating (instead of avoiding like Vertical) a twisted angle that must be shimmed or additionally mudded. This too, instantly erases all "claimed" benefits of Horizontal by doubling the seam amount, patching itself to equal Vertical!

6 – Unfriendly Seams – Horizontal celebrates the chest height seam and pretends there’s no 24”-wide floor to ceiling butt-joint and the ever present baseboard bevel of unfinished work. (Vertical has easy joints and the top's screwed, taped and mudded later with the ceiling corner and the baseboard spots can also be done separately).

7 - Fire Hazard Liability - Horizontal only fills the coin-thin seam's face and has no back blocking, causing smoke and fire’s spread by inviting fuel air for a fire's growth (Vertical is full depth and airtight once simply screwed-in).

8 - Unsafe Installation - Horizontal needs 2-people for a safe installation and the panel is airborne, literally creating the chance to cause injury (Vertical easily tilts-up with just 1-person). Using a panel lifter isn’t even as easy and safe as Vertical’s tilt-up.

9 - Additional Waste - When correctly covering a knee wall, half wall, tub front, column or soffit by first removing both tapered edges, Horizontal can't use the tapers elsewhere (Vertical can and does). And, Horizontal wastes 4-times the mud on their completely unnecessary butt-joints and baseboard bevels...if ever done.

10 - Destructive Ignorance - Foundation and Framing crews go to great pains to make everything flat, level, plumb and square. Horizontal destroys those efforts with their defective humps and baseboard bevels (Vertical keeps the perfection).

11 - Grasping At Straws with Outright Fraud - Horizontals falsely and unknowingly wave the absurdly invalid (FPL439) 1983 testing “Contribution of Gypsum Wallboard to Racking Resistance of Light-Frame Walls” by the self-convicted fraud Ronald W. Wolfe. FPL439 found that all tapered paper wrapped edges must be fully intact for Horizontal to beat Vertical, period. In the real-world, Horizontal's bottom paper wrapped edge is removed by law, for spacing from all floors and thereby completely negate Wolfe’s inexcusably deceitful and worthless "study" (laughable) and summation.

12 - Joint or Seam Treatment - According to the ASTM's C840 8.2, Horizontal's seams must be mudded to provide any fire, smoke and air travel resistance (Vertical's so good that it's not required to have its seams treated at all).

13 - Costly Slow Complication - Horizontal's depend upon pricey special muds and even messy tape or taping tools that waste mud. Taping tools still require a 2nd step of knifing the tape and the muds require a mixing step. That's more expense, more time, more tools and equipment and more water...for an inferior job! Vertical's superior with the cheapest ready-mix bucket muds and dry self-adhesive tape. Again, Vertical's seam treatment is just for looks.

14 - Fire Rating Fail - Most Single-ply or Single-layer drywall for Commercial Work is required to be installed Vertically, to obtain drywall's actual rating. This is well-known by the majority of Horizontals, but you and your children don't matter to a Horizontal. And for what, to honor the frauds that taught them wrong? You've now seen that Vertical's faster overall and immensely better in every way.

Only promote Horizontal as wrong and confidently cite the above incontestable facts.

  • I hope this answer is not a Poe :p I am doing DIY (Thus have absolutely no expertise), and reading all the guidelines from the manufacturer, all of the above came to mind as logical arguments. So vertical it is :)
    – GCon
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 20:26
  • Thank you, great choice and I'm glad I could save you from the nonsense! No, it's not any gimmick or leading astray attempt, just straightforward undeniable facts. I've tried for a decade with the ASTM and the Gypsum Organizations, but they're all only about more sales. They were more than happy to finally come out with 54" wide boards for the foolish horizontals doing 9' tall rooms...unbelievable stubbornness in pursuit of inferiority, but true.
    – Iggy
    Commented Jan 8, 2018 at 21:42
  • 1
    I finished last night! No butt joints ANYWHERE! I did some elementary physics calculations based on the anchor points and this seems more secure and stable. Also, from an aesthetic point of view: IF there is any deviation between the angles of each sheet, it's better to have it vertical than horizontal - lighting from above won't shadow vertical imperfections but will show horizontal ones! Thanks again, hope you can covert even more people!
    – GCon
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 3:05
  • I know this Q&A's quite old, but you've totally lost me on point #4. Can you please explain that in more detail? You indicate 24" wide mud joints vs 6: wide joints, but I'm not sure which ones go where. You site an example of a 48" tall wall as a perfect use of vertical placement, yet it aligns perfectly with a horizontal panel. You're obviously very passionate about your believe that vertical is better, yet that seems to be in conflict with industry and mfgr recommendations. I'm not doubting you, I'm just confused, especially by point #4 - more clarity would better support your position.
    – FreeMan
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 12:22
  • 1
    Yep and no problem. Thank you for the interest. Basically, Linear Footage of seams/joints are a haphazard beneficial "claim" of Horizontals. However, when you deal in reality you must admit that all butt-joints are 4x's wider in their seam treatment. Therefore, putting on 4x's more mud takes 4x's more time and effort, even if you aren't moving from that spot. Factually, those butt-joint portions...though they may only be 4' in length/height...are 4x's their measurement at 4x's longer. Some people even have to go to a 3rd and 4th coat to hide their poor work. Does that explain?
    – Iggy
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 17:41

TL;DR: Hang the sheets horizontally.

I have worked in a 2-3 man wallboard hanging only. We would hang around 100+ boards a day and complete a home with garage in 2 1/2 days to 3 max. The garage is 5/8 thick 12'x4' about 60 of them. The house would have about 100+ per level at 1/2" thick 12' x 4'.

Always hang the ceiling first and always work into the jog. Never start with cut sheets but always start with full size. Two guys grab it and walk up 4' ladders while screw gun is ready. Both flip it and press firmly onto ceiling. Eye spot it then screw it in. Screws not nails.

Mark your canisters (j-boxes) off of two different points. When sheet is put over, screw loosely into place not completely (and not near canisters). Take a hand router with 5/32 bit. Go at your mark, this will be the inside of canister cut to the edge. Pull out and now you can tell where the outside edge is. Cut a circle with an angle so you are not eating away the seen drywall. Think of an underbank on a river's edge: top is fine yet under is swept away.

On the 4' runs of drywall, 5 screws will suffice. One per edge, one in middle and one each off the middle between the edges. Seams staggering screws but many more, 1 screw per 2 inches. Also all screws flat not sunken in or sticking out!

Walls. Hang the board horizontally start with it touching the ceiling. So you have 12' run against the ceiling and work your way down. Let's say the wall is 8' 6". First horizontal row starts highest touching the ceiling. Then next row touches that. With 6" remaining by the floor rip last piece 5 1/2 wide and always have factory edges touch. Flooring will cover that 1/2".

On your edges remember you have cornerbead that is a light metal the makes all corners straight. Do not run your drywall to the very exact edge. This won't allow the cornerbead to be as pliable as the plasterer or drywall finish guy needs.

Second, get a foot lift for walls; this makes seams tight as hell. All seams should be tight—hack work will be noticed by eyes and finished product with sunlight can reveal shit work. It all starts with hanging.

Electrical outlets on wall. Get sheet into place and lean it away and spot where holes should go. Then tap those places with the ax end of hammer. Screw sheet into place, then route the holes: Find edge and then go around the perimeter by feel. You shouldn't be patching small pieces.

The 12' provide great scraps, just use them don't cut every full board then start to use cut offs. They need to be used together. Never use marker. It bleeds through and will never be covered by paint.

Same with windows: run full size boards across the span the most effective direction. Do not end a sheet next to a window. This causes a stress crack when the home settles!!! Say there's a hallway with a door and it is exactly 56" wide. Put that 56" across (touching the ceiling) then piece in the two small sides underneath. Save any scraps and if needed patch work for closets only. Always run the if needed strip out of eyesight line. For example with walls: Full top row, full second row, then strip near floor.

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. The original question was simple, and needed a simple answer; although the information you supplied was good, most of it had nothing to do with the question. Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 22:58
  • Instead of flagging this answer for it's lack of formatting, I have approved @Daniel's edit, which you, OP, may roll back at anytime. I do implore you to reduce the "wall of text" if you do so however and even though I'm fine with it, SE would ask that you curb your language.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 2:15
  • @DanielGriscom those edits were too dramatic. So I rejected and did a minor cleanup.
    – BMitch
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 12:36
  • 1
    Boston Blunt, Welcome to the site! You've got a lot of great information but it's a bit out of place on this question. In the current format, it may be better suited for a blog post. With the site's Q&A format, we ask that you focus on direct answers to the question. If you browse the site, I'm sure you'll find lots of other drywall questions where parts of your description above will apply.
    – BMitch
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 12:39

Horizontal. Joints on timber are worse off than joints without backing, the reason being timber moves drywall doesn’t. Also any imperfection with the framing will show up like dogs balls if fixed vertically while it would simply be bridged otherwise. 90% of the guys doing framing do not straighten/plane the walls down to the mm at least not in my part of the world - And even if they did do you think that timber isn’t going to shrink and warp as it ages? Another reason to go horizontal is most rooms can be hung with a single joint running right the way around at waist/chest height. Any light coming in through windows or doors will not immediately highlight the difference in texture like it would 3 or 4 joints running from top to bottom perpendicular to the light source. Even in the case of long runs any finisher or painter would agree that one horizontal joint and two butts will give a way better finish than 7 or 8 vertical joints. Downlights etc are nothing compared to natural light when it comes to showing up joints and difference in texture.

I personally find it hard to believe it makes any difference to structural strength whether you fix horizontally or vertically. If anything it’s much more likely perpendicular to the framing would be stronger but either way there’s nothing in the building code stating otherwise. Regulations regarding fire proofing are something else but unlikely to be relevant to anyone reading this. Besides, If structural integrity is your primary concern its simple - don’t build with timber and drywall...

I am aware the op has probably finished his project decades ago but somehow I stumbled across this so no doubt many others have as well and felt I should try to clear it up for anyone in the future as a lot of what has been said here is simply wrong. This is not an opinion, this is how it is done from the perspective of the owner of a hanging/finishing/painting company when their livelihood depend on it. Horizontal is more efficient, will give you a better finish and will give you less problems in the future with houses settling timber shrinking and all those lovely things, cheers


I am red seal journeyman interior systems mechanic I can put up 100 or more sheets a day by standing vertical. Walls over 12' high stager but joints with backing added for proper fire rating. If you prefer horizontal then add backing every 4' along bevel for fire rating so ask yourself what makes since is faster and nicer finish least amount backing.when stacking sheets using scaffold you pass sheets up vertically two guys can do this. Using sissor lift one man can do this by putting price of track at outside base of platform. Stand sheet against wall climb on lift and lift sheet put in track and go up to height lift sheet top towards lift bottom towards wall place on top of existing sheet u can use you foot to insure sheet dose not slip then lean top into wall. I have boarded many walls over 30' high using 12' 5/8" by myself try do that laying down. It is common sense something not many people have. Work smart not hard don't let drywall be smarter then you


Generally vertically; that way there isn't a horizontal join that may show a crack over time. Board lengths are usually sufficient that one board will cover floor to ceiling without a join.

The only time I'd expect to see it horizontal would be if it was the first layer, prior to it being covered by a second layer - where you want the joints to be staggered, for example when it is used for fire protection or sound attenuation.


I've always believed horizontal was wrong because it leaves an unsupported seam. That pro's do it to save time kind of says it all - it's an inferior installation done to make dry wall contractors more competitive.


as a rule of thumb, horizontal.

you do NOT need any overkill "backer between the studs where the horizontal seam location will be" as long as you have 14.5" or less between the studs (or thereabouts).

of course, there will be exceptional cases where vertical is more suitable and makes more sense. like for example a side wall of a closet that is maybe 26x90", you can cut it out of a single sheet and post it vertically as opposed to doing it horizontally.


Good evening. I believe you can hang it horizontally vertically or diagonal. It doesn't matter which way it's installed. A competent finisher can make any install proper. The most convenient method of install should be applied accounting for waste and practicality.


Call your building department and find out what the code is. I'm remodeling my kitchen and hung the drywall vertically on the walls. On inspection the inspector asked me why I hung it vertically. He told me it should be hung horizontally. He told me it should be vertical only if it's a load-bearing wall and that only applies to commercial buildings, for residential it should be horizontal. So rather than guess, call your building department.


If you’re worried about the structural nature of sheetrock then hang it horizontal(perpendicular) since the fibers go with the length of the sheet. Thats why it cups if you hang it vertically.


I'm not a pro, and tend to cringe at having to deal with sheetrock, but from what I've read and seen, using 12' boards horizontally will have the benefits of:

  • fewer seams on any wall shorter than 12'
  • most mudding/taping at chest height (easier to do)

Of course, it has one major con:

  • 12' boards are unwieldy

Personally, when I've had to do it myself alone vertical made more sense as it was just easier for me to hang solo.


You pick which way.....but before selecting horizontal installation make sure to install backer between the studs where the horizontal seam location will be.

  • 3
    that backer is absolutely unnecessary. hardly anyone does it
    – amphibient
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 5:38
  • A backer can be useful for creating a bevel joint, however. Take a flat piece, and then attach thing pieces to each side to form a wide 'U' shape. This will flex the butt joint into a bevel. (Edit: see the post @HerrBag for example)
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:29
  • @amphibient - Once again you can take your pick regarding the backer. I agree that is mostly not done but it can certainly result in a more robust install. There are many good reasons to make the decision on the horizontal versus vertical directions. Minimization of taping joints can be a really strong incentive to use in driving the choice.
    – Michael Karas
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 19:43
  • I agree with Michael on the crosses. You should put up crosses anyway to prevent severe warping, so why wouldn't you put them at backer height?
    – DMoore
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 4:34

The answer is. It depends.

On what? stud height, convenience and whatever the manufacturer recommends as they keep changing their minds.

At one point I was told horizontal was the right way to go. But we had a house extension done recently and they told me vertical in general. But they have mixed it depending on the wall so they used either. What was more interesting was how many fixing screws they now add and how they have these bizarre recommendations that the builders have to follow but question.

i.e. in the corners something like 50mm then 50 then 50 then 100 then 100 and back to 50/50/50 in the corners.

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