how to cut drywall

How To Cut Drywall

If this is your first time hanging drywall, here’s some good news: making basic cuts is pretty straightforward. It requires minimal tools and isn’t hard.

Cutting around electrical boxes is a bit more complicated, but as long as you take good measurements and cut carefully, you’ll be able to achieve accurate cuts.

Here’s how to cut drywall.

How to Cut Drywall with a Utility Knife

How to Cut Drywall with a Utility Knife

You only need two things to make basic drywall cuts: a good utility knife and a drywall square. Drywall squares run the entire length of the drywall sheet and 16 inches on the top, forming a T shape.

A drywall square will help you measure and make straight cuts.

Step 1: Measure for Your Cut

Start by measuring where you need to cut your drywall and mark the top and bottom of the sheet with a pencil. Mark the white side of the drywall, as that is the side you’ll cut.

Step 2: Make Your Cut

Now line your drywall t-square up with the top and bottom markings, forming a straightedge.

Use the square as your guide and run your utility knife next to it, cutting through the white paper face and scoring the center.

Step 3: Snap the Drywall

Now that you have your score line through the white paper, evenly grab the piece of drywall you cut and snap it backward.

It should easily snap away. However, the brown paper backing will most likely still be intact.

Step 4: Cut the Backside of the Paper

Now fold the snapped section back and run your utility knife in the groove over the brown paper backing. You may need to run the blade downward and then back up.

Step 5: Smooth Your Edge with a Rasp (Optional)

If your cut is very jagged, smooth it out by running a drywall rasp over it. This isn’t always necessary, especially since you’ll attach the edges to the studs and then cover the joints with tape and mud.

How to Cut Around Electrical Boxes

How to Cut Around Electrical Boxes

If you’re cutting around electrical boxes before starting, make sure all wires are pushed back into their boxes. (Preferably, by an electrician.) 

You don’t want to take the chance of cutting them.

Unfortunately, because eclectic switch plates don’t cover much of the wall, there’s not a lot of room for error when cutting around electrical boxes. This means it’s almost always more accurate to cut the boxes after the drywall is installed – not before.

Making these cuts is more complicated than standard drywall cuts. However, taking your time now can help prevent patchwork later.

Step 1: Mark for the Boxes

Go around the room and mark the floor at the center of all your electrical boxes. Then, measure from the floor to the center of the box and write down the measurement next to your marking.

Step 2: Hang Your Drywall, But Don’t Over Tighten It

When you’re cutting around an electrical box, you don’t want your drywall to have too much tension against the box. So, for now, keep drywall screws at least 16 inches away from where you’ll be cutting.

Step 3: Make Your Cut

Using the measurements you put on the floor, carefully insert your drywall router in the center of the box. Route to the edge of the box, then skip over to the outside of the box, running your router counterclockwise.

Finally, remove your cut-out piece.

Frequently Asked Questions

What tool do you cut drywall with?

The primary tool to cut drywall is a utility knife. However, you’ll need a drywall router, drywall saw, or jab saw to cut around electrical boxes.

What side of drywall do you cut?

You cut drywall on the white paper-faced side of the panel. After cutting through the white paper and scoring the gypsum core, snap the piece you cut backward.

Finally, holding the cut piece back, run your utility knife up and down over the brown paper side to entirely remove your cut section.

Can you cut drywall with a box cutter?

While you technically can cut through sheetrock with a box cutter, a utility knife is better. Utility knives have thicker handles and are more stable, allowing for an accurate and easier cut.

Final Thoughts

Making basic drywall cuts is an easy process to DIY. You only need a drywall square and a good utility knife. 

Drywall cuts around electrical boxes are more complex, but they need to be accurate since there isn’t much room for error. To cut around your electrical boxes, the most important thing is to measure to the center of the box, mark your measurements, and hang drywall before cutting.