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What is a Drywall Jack?

By Lisa Lucke
Updated May 17, 2024
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A typical four-foot by eight-foot sheet (about 1-meter by 2.5-meters) of drywall can weigh between 75 and 100 pounds (about 35 to 45 kilograms). Since handling this material for a drywall project, especially a ceiling project, can be awkward and difficult, a useful tool, known as a drywall jack, can come in handy. A drywall jack is a large clamp-like tool, on wheels, with a crankshaft vertical extension pole that makes drywall hanging any place above eye level a decidedly easier task.

A drywall jack is much sturdier than it looks. The base is typically three-pronged. Wheels attached to the ends of the three prongs are often capable of rotating 360° which helps make moving the jack even easier.

Connected to the base is a main vertical pole which often can extend up to about 10 to 15 feet (about 3 to 4.5 meters) high. Drywall jacks for higher installations are also available. A large round crank, similar to a steering wheel, is usually connected to the center pole on a horizontal, V-shaped frame. This crank helps raise and lower the drywall.

Connected to the top of the main vertical pole is the part of the tool that holds, or grips, the drywall. This piece is typically shaped like the letter H, with the cross pole on some models able to extend up to 16 feet horizontally to handle large pieces of drywall. The parallel poles of this section of the drywall jack have rubber grippers at each end, which tightly clutch the drywall and keep it stable during the installation process.

After a sheet of drywall is loaded onto the drywall jack and the grippers are tightened, the crank is turned, extending the center pole and attached drywall sheet to the desired height. Not only is a drywall jack helpful for hanging drywall on typical ceilings, but they are especially helpful for raised, vaulted, tilted, or otherwise oddly angled ceilings and walls. Considering that drywall installation, especially of ceilings, is typically a two- or even three-person job, a drywall jack can help make it a one-person job.

Drywall jacks vary in size, and capability, and most can be dismantled and reassembled easily. Depending on how much drywall one hangs, it may be wise to buy or build one. For the occasional drywall hanger, renting a jack is typically a relatively inexpensive option.

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Discussion Comments
By surreallife — On Aug 10, 2009

What a splendid idea for a tool. I wonder when they were built initially? Years ago when my husband and I built an addition, we struggled with the ceiling. Finally we came up with our own "invention". We built a T with two by fours, with the vertical 2x4 slightly longer than the height of the room. That way, we could wedge it between floor and ceiling, and hold the sheet of drywall in place until all the nails were hammered in.

It wasn't and easy job, but we did it. A drywall jack would have been the answer to our prayers.

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