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I pulled off some original paneling on two walls, hoping to find decent drywall underneath. There is unfinished drywall, but it's not 4x8 sheets. It's pieced together with as many as three sheets from floor to ceiling.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of taping the gaps between the existing sheets versus pulling them off and putting up mostly full-size sheets?

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  • Every seam is a potential crack.
  • Old drywall is more likely to have been hung with nails rather than screws, more opportunity to shift and pop nails.
  • Taping is the hardest part of drywall work and bigger sheets means less taping (and less sanding and mess).
  • Adding and removing paneling may have loosened the drywall underneath, exacerbating all of the above.
  • Drywall is cheap, labor is expensive, and pulling down and rehanging may take less time that all that taping and patching.
  • Big pieces result in fewer butt joints (edges that are not tapered), which are harder to tape well. In a full sheet you have 16 feet of tapered joint and only 8 feet of butt. Smaller cut pieces often have butt joints on three or four sides.
  • New drywall gives you an opportunity to use mildew/mold resistant material, if you are inclined.

I would start again.

  • I appreciate your insight. This drywall is nailed in. If I wanted to leave some of the larger existing panels in place, can I address the nails problem by adding drywall screws? – Andy Thomas Jun 26 '15 at 18:26
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    @Ecnerwal I respectfully disagree. I have seen nails pop 20 years later as the house/wall shift or wood shrinks and swells. – bib Jun 26 '15 at 20:10
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    Andy, there is no right answer here (and that makes this a bit off topic) but you can pick any level of redo or non-redo you wish. If the big pieces look stable, firm them up with a few screws and just replace the smaller pieces. Do be sure to get the same thickness drywall as any that you are retaining. – bib Jun 26 '15 at 20:12
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    Nails can pop if you ever use a hammer on the other side of the wall, too, hanging pictures, or hanging new drywall or whatever. – Craig Jun 26 '15 at 20:25
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    I live in a 65 year old house and had fresh nails pop all over the place when we had an unusual rainy season. It's a dry climate where I live, we got a 100 year flood. Although the house didn't flood, the those 65 year old nails started popping everywhere just from moisture in the air I guess... – maplemale Jun 26 '15 at 22:26
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You have to mud anyway; if you tape and mud, all you need is tape and mud. If you replace, you need to tear out, buy drywall, put in and tape and mud.

Unless you have some other unstated reason to rip the wall open, tape, mud and be done with it - similar amount of work, less mess/trash, no noticeable difference in the wall when done.

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