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The Best Drywall Tools For Professional Results

Updated: October 1, 2022
Installing drywall is a task most DIY’ers can tackle. But the heavy lifting, cutting and taping all require unique tools. Learn what the best drywall tools are for both DIY and professional use in this article.
Best Drywall Tools
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The Best Drywall Tools For Professional Results

Professionals know the best drywall tools will make a project go faster and improve the finished result. But choosing the right tools for the various phases of the job requires understanding the basics of cutting, taping and sanding.

And, for DIY’ers, the top drywall tools like stilts and mud hawks aren’t every day purchases. But they are a must have for most jobs.

From lifting to sanding this guide will help you with:

  • Cutting drywall 
  • Lift and holding sheets
  • Screwing
  • Taping and mudding
  • Sanding
  • And, most importantly, manage dust during the process

Lastly, if your budget doesn’t allow for a professional then the other tool you’ll need is research and a mix of patience. While hanging drywall perfectly takes time, a proper final coat is a skill.

Guide to the Best Drywall Tools

To help your project, though, we’ll take a look at tools in four categories:

  • Cutting Tools – are different with drywall as you’re cutting paper coated gypsum and not wood (so put away your woodworking tools)
  • Drywall Hanging – are tools to cut, lift and screw drywall to the wall.
  • Finishing Tools – for taping, mudding and sanding drywall. 
  • Dust Control – with drywall dust it’s important to contain and manage the dust before it slips out of the workspace. 

Best Tools to Cut Drywall

Best drywall tools - rotozip saw

A rotozip will make quick work of trimming drywall around windows, doors, outlets and just about anywhere else.

If you are installing more than one room of drywall you’ll want a rotozip.  With it’s high RPM blade it will make quick work of trimming drywall in any direction. Because it is an automated version of the drywall saw you may not need both but, if I was buying one vs. the other I’d go with the rotozip.

And even better, with cordless options in almost all tools you can consider dropping the cord (or not worrying about it on a job site).

Best drywall tools - power drywall saw

A power drywall saw will make both simple and complex drywall cuts and reduce time spent cutting outlets and vent holes.

What do you get when you invert a jigsaw and a handheld drywall saw? The power drywall saw. Due to the cordless power this saw will make short work of any drywall cuts or notches you need to make.

While this might not be an investment for a small room project, a basement or large garage project might make this handy saw a worthwhile investment.

Best Drywall Tools to Cut Sheetrock

Best drywall tools - jab saw

The drywall saw is one of the simplest but most effective tools to cut drywall holes. With it’s wicked design and sharp teeth it will melt thru drywall.

Since drywall is composed of compressed gypsum it isn’t cut with standard wood friendly tools. Instead, drywall is easy to cut with a sharp, aggressive blade design like the drywall saw has that rips apart the gypsum as it goes.

What’s a drywall saw used for? A drywall saw is used to cut outlets, notches, and other rough-cut jobs in drywall. With large serrated teeth on one or both sides of it’s blade it can quickly “poke” itself through a sheet of drywall and with little effort cut drywall to any shape.

Best drywall tools - utility knife

A utility knife is a must for any drywall installation to score and “break” the drywall for rough sizing.
 
Otherwise known as the sheetrock knife, the utility knife is an absolute must have drywall installation tool. Because drywall isn’t cut all the way through when cutting to length you’ll use a utility knife to score the face of the drywall. Next you’ll “snap” the drywall along the score line to break the gypsum interior and then cut the reverse paper side of the drywall.
 

That’s it, no saws needed for rough sizing of drywall. Even if you’ve seen someone use a circular saw on drywall it’s just not the right way to cut it (I have…).

Best drywall tools - t-square

The T-square is used in combination with the utility knife for scoring drywall sheets.

This drywall tools serves the simple purpose of being a guide for a utility knife to cut a scoring line in drywall. Once the line is scored the drywall is simply “broken” along the line with a forceful snap.

Tools to Lift, Hold and Screw Drywall

Drywall Collated Screw Gun

Best drywall tools - drywall jacks

A drywall jack will hold the drywall to the ceiling in jobs with or without a drywall lift. Due to compact design these will fit in areas a lift won’t (closets, etc.).

On smaller jobs or in tight spaces like closets where a drywall lift doesn’t make sense then going to a drywall jack will give you the extra hand you need. While this tool is widely used in cabinet installation as a cabinet jack there are a few that can also support the weight and height of drywall up to over 12′ ceilings.

With just a quick height adjustment with fine-tuning you can adapt it room to room to slide under the panel after it’s in place.

Best drywall tools - drywall kicker

With a pocket kicker you’ll be able to quickly and easily raise the bottom sheet of drywall off the floor and flush with the upper row.
 
Since drywall is installed ceiling first, then the upper row of drywall and finally the floor you’ll run into needing a way to lift the drywall off the floor and force it flush with the upper row.
 
The drywall lift enables this with a simple rocking design that frees up your hands to attach screws while your foot does the work.
 
Ingenious but a must have – especially if you are installing yourself.

Best drywall tools - screw gun

A collated screw gun is a must have for a large job. Due to each sheet of drywall having dozens of screws a manual method is possible, but will slow you down.

First, though, each sheet of drywall will take dozens of screws that need to be set just below the surface of the drywall. 

Because you’ll need some precision with the screw depth you can use a standard cordless drill with a screw setting adapter for small jobs. But for big jobs you’ll want a collated screw gun made for the job that has built in screw depth control and the motor speed/drive setup for fast screw installation.

Best Drywall Tools - Drywall Lift

Best drywall tools - drywall lift

A drywall lift will take the heavy job of lifting drywall to the ceiling and holding it in place. And this drywall tool is a must for any ceiling installation for strain and safety.

These lifts make putting a 4×12′ by 5/8″ thick sheet of drywall on the ceiling a piece of cake.  And they will also save your body a lot of pain and strain with their effortless ability to lift a 100-pound sheet of drywall to the ceiling and precisely hold it in place.

Wondering if you should buy or rent? Well, of all the tools on this list it’s one tool for a homeowner you could reasonably buy, use, and re-sell as used at a cost lower than renting one.

Best Drywall Tools to Mud and Tape

Best Drywall Tools for Mudding

Best drywall tools - taping knife and pan

First, the best drywall tools for taping will all be stainless steel

Since drywall mud contains water to stay flexible it will corrode any lesser grade tools almost immediately. 

And, the stainless steel aside, you’ll need a set of taping knives and a mud pan.

Best drywall tools - taping knife and pan

A set of drywall stilts will let you quickly reach the ceiling and upper parts of the wall for installation and taping tasks.
 
With ceilings at 8 feet or higher the average drywall installer isn’t able to reach the ceiling without a ladder. But with a pair of strap-on stilts just about anyone can easily access the entire ceiling for installation and taping.
 
Therefore, as an alternative to a ladder or moving scaffolding around, try strapping on a pair of stilts and you’ll instantly be 1-3’+ taller to reach the ceiling and top third of the walls.
 
Of course, no drywall tools list is complete with stilts.

Best drywall tools - drywall banjo

A drywall banjo will make quick work of applying tape over the joints between sheets. The option to a banjo isn’t good (and involves manual methods) so of all the tools you’ll need to invest in, this is it.

To use, simply load the tape and mud into the machine and apply joint tape.  

Best drywall tools - drywall sander

One of the hardest tasks in drywall is sanding drywall for a perfect finish WITHOUT a storm of dust.

First, for all but the most seasoned professional sanding is the make or break moment. Either the drywall will be perfect and the paint won’t show your work – or the imperfections in hanging and mudding will shine through.

Which is where a  power sander that connects to your vacuum, contains dust and quickly smooths your wall is a great investment in time and finished product quality.

Best drywall tools

Containing Drywall Dust

Containing Drywall Dust

From new construction to finishing your basement one of the fights you’ll have is with dust.

And lots of it once you move to the sanding phase. So how do you keep drywall dust in check? Let’s take a look at the drywall tools list that covers solutions to drywall dust control

Best drywall tools - drywall dust barrier

While a dust wall doesn’t stop the tools from generating dust, it does stop the dust from leaving the rooms you are working in. 

For that reason dust walls can be built to extend from the floor to the ceiling and support plastic or cloth sheeting. Then, sometimes using magnetic doors, a barrier will form as a dust barrier.

Of note, be sure to look for units that will work on smooth floors (they typically come with a suction cup) to keep the wall firmly in place. That’s a common problem on smooth, shiny concrete floors.

Best drywall tools - drywall dust vacuum

While a dust wall doesn’t stop the tools from generating dust, it does stop the dust from leaving the rooms you are working in. 

For that reason dust walls can be built to extend from the floor to the ceiling and support plastic or cloth sheeting. Then, sometimes using magnetic doors, a barrier will form as a dust barrier.

Of note, be sure to look for units that will work on smooth floors (they typically come with a suction cup) to keep the wall firmly in place. That’s a common problem on smooth, shiny concrete floors.

While a dust barrier will contain the dust, the best option is to not let it slip off your sanders.

And, when it comes to connecting your drywall sanders to dust collection there are a range of options. But, in my opinion, with shop vacuums a commodity tool there’s not much reason to invest in overly expensive units. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best tool to cut drywall?

There are two best tools to cut drywall. First, a utility knife is a must for scoring sheet rock. And then a jab saw is used to make cuts around outlets or doorways. While there are power saws and roto-zips with these two basic tools you can install most drywall jobs.

What is the easiest way to cut drywall?

The easiest way to cut drywall is with a t-square and a utility knife. By simply scoring the face of the drywall with a utility knife it can be cleanly “broken” and then the back trimmed to finish the cut. No saws required.

Is sheetrock the same as drywall?

Drywall is the generic name for gypsum board while Sheetrock is a specific (and popular) brand name of drywall.

Summary

While you can install drywall without the right tools, having the best drywall tools for each aspect of the job is preferred. Not only will your installation go smoother, it will result in a higher quality finish. 

Lastly, while it’s up to your budget, checking the most boxes on a drywall tools list will make for a better installation.

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Last update on 2023-01-10 at 10:07 / Images from Amazon

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Eric has been a professional woodworker for over thirty years and has worked in small cabinet shops making everything from kitchen cabinets to hand-made furniture. Now working from a home woodworking shop Eric is sharing his passion for woodworking, tool advice and how-to knowledge from his Minnesota-based woodshop.

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Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.