Installing drywall on a ceiling is usually at least a two-person project, but a drywall lift can serve as a second or third set of hands letting one or two people work the job. You can rent a drywall lift for around 30-50$ a day, or buy one if you will be doing lots of drywalling.
You lift a sheet onto a horizontal cradle, which then tilts vertically, then jack it up to the ceiling with a manual crank. The lift retains the drywall sheet in the proper location, leaving you free to screw or nail it to the joists/studs.
The only hard part left for you is lifting your sheet of drywall a couple feet to load it on the lift cradle. Gypsum sheetrock panels can weigh up to 120 pounds each. Here are a few tips to make using a drywall lift easier and safer.
- Lift only single sheets at a time- separate loads before lifting.
- Lift one end of the panel and slide it onto the cradle, rather than lifting the panel in the middle and bearing the whole weight. Most drywall lifts have rolling casters to allow you to load where your panels are and transport them to the installation location.
- Several drywall lift manufacturers supply lift loaders, which will mechanically load the panel onto the lift cradle. Telpro makes a nice one.
- For common ½ inch drywall sheets, the maximum length that should be lifted by one person is 12 feet. For 5/8 inch panels, max. length is 10 feet.
- When you take delivery of the panels, store them propped up with the bottom edge on a half dozen 2x4s spaced along the length. This leaves room for you to get your hand under a sheet easily and you also 2 inches less distance to lift- every little bit helps.
- Never support overhead panels during lifting with use head or hardhat- use your hands and arms or a lift. Do not risk a neck injury.
- Avoid lifting drywall sheets vertically with both hands on the bottom of the sheet, you are at greater risk of losing your balance and falling. Use a lift or two sets of hands at the edges of the panel.