Drywall butt joints, or what we call “drywall butts,” can be time-consuming to finish, and even if you feather out a wide area of joint compound, they can still cause humps in the final surface. To overcome those problems, we started using commercially available drywall backers, which are installed behind butt joints that are laid out to fall between studs or joists (over the cavity, not the framing member).

Fastening the drywall to the backer board forces the joint inward, creating a slight depression along the joint that speeds up the finishing process tremendously. The only problem is, backer boards are not always readily available and can also be pricey. For those reasons, we began making our own.

We start with ripping 7/16-inch-thick sheets of OSB into 5 1/2-inch widths. We prefer ripping 4x9 sheets, when they are available at our local lumberyard, because we can chop the OSB strips into 54-inch lengths without creating a lot of waste. This length is greater than the width of a sheet of drywall so that each end of the backer board can lap behind adjacent drywall panels, which helps strengthen and support the joint. If 4x8 sheets are our only option, we still cut the boards 54 inches long, and then piece together the leftovers into backer boards. This works well but takes longer. We also save scraps that are long enough, to add to our savings.

The photos in the slideshow above shows our process of making drywall backer boards. It’s quite simple, and once we landed on this solution, it became a regular part of every job with new drywall.

Photos by Aaron Miiller

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