hanging drywall

Is It Better To Hang Drywall Vertical Or Horizontal?

If you’ve done drywall jobs in residential spaces, you’re likely familiar with hanging drywall horizontally. But did you know you can also install drywall vertically?

If not, you might be wondering – is it better to hang drywall vertical or horizontal?

In residential spaces with 9 feet or lower ceiling heights, hanging drywall horizontal makes the most sense. It results in fewer seams, is stronger, and easier to finish.

On the other hand, you’ll most likely need to hang drywall vertical to meet fire codes in commercial spaces.

Here’s what else you should know.

Why Would You Hang Drywall Vertically?

In general, commercial spaces have higher ceiling heights than residential spaces. And hanging a sheet of drywall vertical is much faster than hanging it horizontally.

But completing the project quickly isn’t the main reason to go vertical in commercial buildings. Instead, most fire codes require that drywall panels be hung vertically for these spaces. 

In instances of a fire, earthquake, or other hazards, vertically hung sheetrock will easily come down and not pile up. Conversely, horizontal hung drywall can pile on itself in hazardous situations, causing even more of a problem.

Pros and Cons Of Hanging Drywall Vertically

Pros:

  • Vertical installation improves safety in commercial buildings 
  • Vertical installation on commercial structures is faster 
  • Easy access to areas that need inspections 

Cons:

  • It doesn’t increase wall strength
  • Harder to finish

Why Would You Hang Drywall Horizontal?

In residential spaces, drywall is almost always horizontal. The main reason is that horizontal drywall is much stronger than drywall installed vertically.

Hanging sheetrock this way increases its shear strength.  Shear strength is the drywall’s ability to resist forces like wind, for example.

A horizontally hung sheet of drywall is also less likely to crack or sag over time. Plus, hanging drywall this way allows for less seams.

Fewer horizontal seams mean less taping and mudding.

A horizontal installation also covers up uneven and bowed studs.

Pros and Cons Of Hanging Drywall Horizontally

Pros:

  • Fewer seams 
  • Hides uneven studs
  • Easier to finish 
  • Greater structural strength

Cons:

  • More time consuming to install

Garage Drywall Vertical Or Horizontal?

In residential garages, you’ll most often find horizontal drywall. Hanging the drywall this way increases the shear strength of the wall, which is ideal for these structures.

However, since codes vary from city to city, you need to check with your local zoning office before installation. This is especially the case if you have an attached garage.

Building code often requires you to use special fire-resistant drywall where the garage meets the house. It could also dictate the orientation of your drywall panels.

Hang Drywall Vertical Or Horizontal On Ceiling?

In most cases, it’s best to hang drywall horizontal (or perpendicularly) on a ceiling. There’s less chance of sagging and cracking when installing it this way.

And it can better hold the weight of insulation.

Plus, if you have any uneven or bowed joists, hanging your drywall horizontally will cover them. However, if you hang your drywall vertical (or parallel) on the ceiling, that’s not the case. 

A horizontal orientation also makes for fewer seams and, therefore, less finishing work. Even if you have a butt joint or two, perpendicular installation is the best way to go.

Conclusion

In most commercial spaces, drywall installation is vertical. This type of installation makes the building safer in a hazard.

Plus, it’s easier to inspect and quicker to put in place.

In residential spaces, you’ll want to hang the wallboard horizontally. Horizontal installation provides a stronger wall that is less likely to sag or crack, has fewer seams, and is easier to finish.

If you’re doing a DIY job, horizontal installation is most common for residential homes, ceilings, and residential garages.