How to Cut Drywall Perfectly Every Time

I’ve got the technique for getting a straight cut through drywall sheets of any size. Even better, it only requires a utility knife for the cut. There’s no need to use a messy drywall saw with this system. Here’s how I learned to make professional drywall cuts when I began working in home construction. It works for any job that requires clean, straight drywall cuts.

1. Gather Your Tools

To make precise drywall cuts you need a measuring tape, a ruler or this framing square, a pencil, and a utility knife. These tools are all inexpensive—that’s the beauty of this technique.

A measuring tape, framing square or ruler pencil, utility knife, and mallet is all you need to cut drywall.
These tools are all you need to cut drywall pieces of any size.

There’s no need to use a drywall saw. They take a lot of effort and make messy cuts. A simple utility knife will do the job faster, easier, and with a better end result. You’ll see.

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2. Take Measurements

Before you make any cut, precisely measure the area you’re covering with drywall. Use your measuring tape to find the proper size for your piece of drywall.

A measuring tape measuring the proper size piece of drywall that needs to be cut.
Take careful measurements before you begin marking and cutting.

If you are covering a large section of wall, measure at both the top and bottom. Sometimes, walls in older homes aren’t exactly straight. So, you may need to make the drywall wider or more narrow at the top or bottom.

3. Mark Your Drywall

Use your measuring tape to find the proper width of the drywall piece you need. Then, use your pencil to mark the proper point at the top and bottom of the drywall piece.

A man marking a point on a piece of drywall at the proper width before cutting.
Mark the top and bottom of the drywall at the proper width. Then, draw a straight line connecting these two marks.

Use your ruler, or framing square as a guide for your pencil as you mark a straight line on your drywall sheet. This is the line you will follow when cutting. If you are cutting a large piece of drywall, you can use a 2×4 or your measuring tape as a straight edge to guide your pencil.

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4. Cut One Side of the Drywall

Place your framing square or ruler along the line you marked. Then, cut straight along this line with your utility knife. You do not have to cut all the way through the drywall. Only cut deeply enough to slice through the layer of paper and score the material beneath.

I always use a straight edge to guide my knife blade. This ensures a straight cut every time.

It’s essential to use a straight edge as a guide during cutting. If you don’t, the utility knife is likely to leave a wobbly, curved line. This results in a messy cut that requires cleanup before or after installation.

5. Snap the Drywall Along the Line

Stand the drywall on its edge, with the cut parallel to the ground. Grip the top edge of the drywall.

A firm tap on the back side of the drywall will cause it to snap cleanly along the line you cut.

Use your hand or a mallet to firmly tap the drywall where the cut was made. Make sure to tap the back side of the drywall—the side where the paper has NOT been cut. The drywall will snap cleanly along the cut line. However, the second layer of paper still needs to be cut.

6. Cut the Paper Backing

Now that the drywall piece has snapped along the cut line, use your utility knife to slice through the final layer of paper backing. This will result in a clean cut with a precise straight line.

Do not tear the paper backing. Use your utility knife to slice through the paper.

When cutting large sheets of drywall, it’s a great idea to have a second person to help hold the drywall. This way, you can snap the drywall along the cut without worrying about any pieces falling and getting damaged.

This is what the drywall looks like after the cut has been completed. Pretty good, right?

What is the Best Way to Cut Drywall?

In order to cut drywall along a perfectly straight line every time:

  1. Assemble your tools: utility knife, ruler, pencil, and measuring tape.
  2. Measure the area you wish to cover with drywall.
  3. Mark your drywall sheet at the dimensions you measured.
  4. Use a ruler as a guide as you cut through the paper on one side of your drywall.
  5. Snap your drywall along the cut line.
  6. Cut through the paper backing to separate the two pieces of drywall cleanly.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll have clean, straight edges on your drywall. This makes it easy to instantly screw drywall to wood studs. Plus, finishing drywall with joint compound is easier when you’ve got clean edges.

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