How to fix uneven joists before drywall

Written by elizabeth knoll
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How to fix uneven joists before drywall
(Jupiterimages/ Images)

If you have uneven joists and hang drywall without fixing them, you will end up with a finished ceiling that rises and falls with each joist. This stresses how important it is that the joists are even before you hang drywall--drywall alone cannot fix uneven joists. Although checking each joist may seem labour-intensive, it is not as complicated as it seems. With a few simple woodworking tools, you can have your joists levelled fairly easily.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Plywood of varying thickness
  • Nails
  • Hammer

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  1. 1

    Measure the distance from each stud to the floor, using a tape measure. Locate the lowest ceiling joist. which will be the smallest measurement. Determine how much wood you need to add on to each joist to bring it down to the lowest joist.

  2. 2

    Cut lengths of plywood for each joist. Use a table saw to rip the plywood quickly at the thickness needed to fur down the joist. It should be ripped as wide as the joist. Plywood is available in thicknesses from 1/4 inch to 7/8 inch.

  3. 3

    Position the plywood strips lengthwise with the joist and nail them to the bottom, using a hammer. Run the strips along the entire length of the joist.

  4. 4

    Measure the distance from each joist to the floor once finished. The measurements should be exactly the same. However, if the measurements are slightly off, up to 1/8 inch, it will not be noticeable when the drywall is hung.

Tips and warnings

  • If the joists are off more than 7/8 inch, either double up the plywood or rip a board on the table saw that is thicker than 7/8 inch.
  • Once finished, you can also check out how level the ceiling joists are by running a 2- or 4-foot level perpendicular to the bottom of them.

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