Bending Drywall Panels

Create a true sense of motion within a room by bending drywall panels into a curved wall.

Intro

A curved wall can create a sense of motion within a room, and a barrel-vaulted ceiling can make a ho-hum hall into a pleasant passageway. Look around your house, and you may discover several opportunities for creating curves.

When you're planning the project, consider the minimum radius that you can achieve with various thicknesses of drywall. If you must use 1/4- or 3/8-inch panels, install at least two layers to make your finished wall a minimum of 1/2-inch thick. When framing the project, close stud spacing will make your wall smoother and stronger.

One manufacturer cautions against wetting the 1/4-inch flexible panels to achieve a tighter curve; the panel is likely to crumble. Instead, design your project within the bending limits of the panels.

Thin panels can be difficult to handle by yourself without damaging them, so it's a good idea to recruit a helper or two for this part of the project.

Checklist

Time
Wetted panels require at least one hour of soaking time

Tools
Drywall screws or nails

Skills
Driving fasteners

Prep
Wall is framed.

Materials
Drywall panels in a thickness appropriate for the radius of your project

Step 1

If you need to wet the drywall to make it flexible enough for the radius you're covering, apply clean room-temperature water with a sponge, garden sprayer, or paint roller. Coat the face for application to an inward (concave) curve and the back for an outward (convex curve).

Step 2

Stack the wetted surfaces face-to-face, and give the water at least one hour to work. If the weather is extremely hot or dry, cover the stack with plastic sheeting so the water doesn't evaporate too quickly. Rest the panels on 2x4s atop the sawhorses so they don't sag under their own weight.

Step 3

When you're applying drywall to an outside curve, start at one end stud and work toward the other end. Drive all the fasteners in each stud before moving to the next one. Trim the end later.

Step 4

Start at the middle of an inside curve, and work toward both ends. Drive all the fasteners in each stud before moving to the next one. Let the ends run long, and trim them later.

Step 5

Trim the ends to length with the usual steps of score, snap, and cut. If you wet the drywall, you may want to wait until the board dries somewhat before cutting.


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