How to dry-line a wall

Dry-lining a wall means attaching plasterboard to a wall, which gives you a smooth finish to decorate straight away. It's much easier to get a good result this way than with wet plaster and it is easier alternative to re-plastering.


  • Always wear safety goggles and a dust mask.
  • Always wear gloves when handling these types of products.
  • Always wear protective goggles and masks when cutting or sawing metal. Clear away all metal dust and small pieces before starting work again.

To make sure your plasterboard is straight when it's on the wall, you need to mark guidelines on the walls and ceiling to help you put the boards in the right place.

How to prepare to dry-line a wall

Step 1

Start by measuring out the board widths, working away from the window opening. Then place an off-cut of plasterboard against the window reveal and measure a plasterboard width across. Allow an extra 10mm for the adhesive that'll fix the window sections to the reveal.

How to prepare to dry-line a wall

Step 2

Using a laser level or spirit level, mark a vertical plumb line from the floor to the ceiling, extending the marks onto the ceiling and the floor.

How to prepare to dry-line a wall

Step 3

Draw a vertical chalk line down the marked line. This will be your guideline for the first board. Carry on across the room, marking the board positions.

How to prepare to dry-line a wall

Step 4

Mark a line across the top (which will be the finish line) allowing 12.5mm for the thickness of the board and 10-15mm for the adhesive.


If you want to get a professional finish, it's important that you make neat cuts in the plasterboard to fit around obstacles like window sills. You'll need to do this before applying the adhesive. A plasterboard pad saw is an ideal tool for making difficult cuts as its pointed, narrow blade can easily cope with awkward shapes, and its coarse teeth go quickly through plasterboard.

How to make difficult cuts when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Start by making a mark on the wall where the plasterboard sheet finishes. Then measure from that mark to the window sill, using a combination square and a tape measure. Make a note of these measurements.

How to make difficult cuts when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Transfer your measurements to the plasterboard, adding a little extra so you've got enough room to position it. You can easily fill this extra space after you've fitted your plasterboard.

How to make difficult cuts when dry-lining a wall

Step 3

Cut out the shape using a plasterboard pad saw.

Browse our selection of plasterboard to finish the job.


Plasterboard adhesive sets really quickly. It's a good idea to do just one area of your wall at a time. Mark on the wall where you want the dabs of adhesive to go before you start. There should be lines of dabs from the top to bottom of the wall, but don't bridge the joins between sheets of plasterboard with any of these.

Top tip - Dry-lining a timber frame

If your wall is very uneven or in poor condition, attach a framework of timber studs to it before dry-lining. Fix the plasterboard to the studs with nails rather than adhesive. You can also fit thermal insulation between the timber studs before putting up your plasterboard, and use sound-deadening plasterboard to make your wall soundproof.

Top tip - Cutting holes for sockets

Top tip - Cutting holes for sockets

First, run a marker pen around the rim of your socket mounting box. Then hold the plasterboard accurately in position against it to leave an outline. Make a pilot hole in each corner, turn the board around and join up the holes with a pencil. Finally, cut the square with a plasterboard pad saw.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Use a marker spray to mark the position of the adhesive dabs 400mm apart (or whatever the adhesive manufacturer's instructions advise). Then mix your plasterboard adhesive in a bucket.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Using a builder's float and pointing hawk, put dabs of adhesive on the walls.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 3

Lift your plasterboard into place, in line with the chalk lines on the wall and ceiling.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 4

Use a heavy batten to tap the board flat against the wall. A long piece of 50x100mm timber will be perfect to do this.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 5

Check the board is perfectly vertical with a spirit level.

How to fit the plasterboard when dry-lining a wall

Step 6

Make sure the board fits snugly against your ceiling. If it doesn't, lift it with a board lifter or a bolster and wood off-cuts. Do the same with your next sheet of plasterboard.


It's a fact that walls and corners are rarely straight. If you want a neat fit you'll need to cut a plasterboard sheet to the shape of the wall. Measure the gap between the wall and the closest sheet of plasterboard. Then cut a sheet of plasterboard 250mm wider than the gap, and a small piece the same width as the gap.

How to fit a corner when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Position the plasterboard sheet 200mm away from the corner. Next, place one end of the small piece against the corner at the top of the wall, and the other overlapping the plasterboard sheet. Then move this piece down to the floor, tracing the shape of the corner on the plasterboard.

How to fit a corner when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Cut along the line and use a plasterboard rasp to neaten the edge.


Want to get a neat look around a window? You'll need to cut pieces of plasterboard to fit the sides (reveals) and the top of your window.

How to fit plasterboard in a window recess

Step 1

First, measure the height and width of the window reveals. Then cut pieces of plasterboard to size and stick them in place with adhesive.

How to fit plasterboard in a window recess

Step 2

Use masking tape to temporarily hold the pieces in position.

How to fit plasterboard in a window recess

Step 3

Measure the width and depth at the top of the window reveal. Then cut a piece of plasterboard to size and stick it in place with adhesive.

How to fit plasterboard in a window recess

Step 4

Use timber supports between the plasterboard and window sill to hold the top piece of plasterboard in place while the adhesive dries.


To get a perfect finish along internal corners and the join with your ceiling, use a paper-faced metal angle bead stuck in place with a jointing compound. A steel-bladed internal corner trowel will help you give the compound a smooth finish.

How to finish internal corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Start by measuring the height of your wall. Cut the angle bead 12.5mm shorter than the wall height with tinsnips, cutting first from one side to the other.

How to finish internal corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and spread it on the corner with a filling knife, covering just beyond where the angle bead will fit.

How to finish internal corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 3

Press the angle bead into position in the corner.

How to finish internal corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 4

Cover with a top coat of jointing compound and smooth with an internal corner trowel.


You can finish the joins between your plasterboard walls and ceiling in the same way as your internal corners. Make sure to stand on a stable stepladder to reach the ceiling.

How to finish along the ceiling when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Start by measuring along the top of the wall. Then cut a paper-faced metal angle bead to fit, and stick it in place with jointing compound.

How to finish along the ceiling when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Cover the bead with a top coat of jointing compound and smooth it with an internal corner trowel.


For a smooth finish, plasterboard should be plastered. But this is a skilled job that's best left to a professional. However, you can still give your plasterboard joints a decent finish yourself with jointing compound and jointing tape. When all the joints are dry, fill the join, the next wall and any other gaps with filler. Then all you'll need to do is apply a drywall primer to the surface and you're ready to decorate.

How to smooth the joints when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

Mix the jointing compound in a bucket and smooth it down or along the joint with a filling knife or scraper.

How to smooth the joints when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Cut a piece of jointing tape the length of the joint with scissors, and press the tape in place.

How to smooth the joints when dry-lining a wall

Step 3

Use the blade of a coating knife to press jointing compound along the taped join, flush with the surface of the tape. Quickly smooth the surface and feather the edges of the compound with a clean damp sponge. Make sure you keep rinsing the sponge and wringing it thoroughly as too much moisture will weaken the joint.

How to smooth the joints when dry-lining a wall

Step 4

Leave the compound to dry. Then sand any bumps very lightly with a sanding block if you need to.


You can use a paper-faced metal angle bead to make sure you get a strong join at an external corner. And an external corner trowel will give you a crisp angle to the jointing compound.

How to finish external corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 1

First, measure the width and height of the corner and cut the angle bead to fit. Put jointing compound on the corner and stick the bead in place.

How to finish external corners when dry-lining a wall

Step 2

Cover the corner with a top coat of jointing compound and smooth it down with external corner trowel.