The 7 Best Drywall Stilts
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in February of 2016. Get a leg up on your next construction project with a pair of these drywall stilts. They take a bit of getting used to, but whether you're sheeting your workshop ceiling with plywood, mudding and taping gypsum board seams for your new basement renovation, or cutting in a few tall walls while repainting, our selections for this category can help you get the job done quickly. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
March 18, 2020:
This was a relatively painless round of updates, with all of our previous picks making it through. We did, however, add one new selection to the mix: The Circle Brand SkyStrider, which features an ankle spring design intended to offer users a stilted walking experience that feels much more natural than the alternative offered by drywall stilts with fixed ankles. Fans of Marshalltown’s famed Skywalker stilts will likely recognize the similarities between their designs. (We decided against including the Skywalkers during this round of updates, due to availability issues.)
A few things to think about:
Height: Naturally, drywall stilts won’t do you any good if they still leave you two inches short of reaching that ceiling. At the same time, it can feel precarious and awkward walking on stilts that are excessively tall. With most options in this category featuring some sort of adjustable range, make sure you pick one that’s suitable for the project you’re working on. Professional drywallers will frequently keep several pairs of stilts handy, allowing them to pick the appropriate stilt for each particular job. While the shortest setting on the smallest Circle Brand SkyStrider model gives users a modest, 15-inch boost, other options like the GypTool Professional can increase your height by up to 64 inches.
Weight: For the most part, options in this category have a maximum load rating in the neighbourhood of 200 to 230 pounds. Although heavier users have reported working on several models without problem, we recommend observing each tool's limitations as dictated by the manufacturer, for safety’s sake. Regardless of what you weigh, it’s in your best interest to find a lightweight option that doesn’t add too much weight to your step. While a pair of the Goplus Lift Tools weighs only 16 pounds, the GypTool Professional weighs close to double that, at almost 28 pounds.
Comfort: This is a key consideration. While standing on stilts will never be like lying in your favorite reclining armchair, if you’re going to be on your feet and wearing these things for hours, the last thing you want to deal with is the irritation of a chafing strap. Look for models with adequate foot support and, ideally, cushioned calf cuffs, as in the case of the Circle Brand SkyStrider and Dura-Stilt Dura IV. In the absence of padded leg supports, some drywallers have even been known to wear shin guards while they work, to mitigate the chafing.
History of Drywall
In an attempt to change public opinion, the U.S. Gypsum Company changed drywall's name from Sackett board to sheetrock, but this made little impact on sales.
Drywall was first invented in 1916 by the U.S. Gypsum Company and was originally known as Sackett board. Unlike the large sheets of drywall we are used to seeing today, it was first sold as small tiles designed for fireproofing areas. Over the next decade, its form evolved, first into a multi-layer paper and gypsum sheet, and then finally into a single layer, compressed gypsum board with heavy paper sidings as it is currently seen in stores.
Despite changing forms over the first decade, most builders refused to use Sackett board for more than 25 years after it was first invented. At the time, builders and homeowners considered Sackett board a cheap fix to be used in shoddily constructed homes.
In an attempt to change public opinion, the U.S. Gypsum Company changed drywall's name from Sackett board to sheetrock, but this made little impact on sales. If not for World War II, drywall would most likely have failed as a product and been removed from shelves at some point. During World War II, the majority of the country's workforce was either focused on war manufacturing or being shipped overseas to fight. The extreme labor shortage created a need developed for inexpensive building material that could be installed quickly. Suddenly drywall was the best option.
By the time World War II ended, builders and home owners had realized the many benefits of drywall and continued to use it in place of traditional plastering. It is currently the dominant building material in the United States.
Using Drywall Stilts For The First Time
Drywall stilts are designed to offer builders and those looking to become a home DIYer a couple of feet of additional height so drywall can be hung quickly and more efficiently. Unlike many other forms of stilts, drywall stilts have a large footprint that offers a good amount of stability. They are also built from extremely sturdy materials like an aluminum alloy and feature deep treads on the foot. They have some form of canvas or Velcro strap to hold the wearer's feet in place, and another securing system near the upper calf.
After a bit of practice, you should feel comfortable walking in drywall stilts without anybody around to support you.
For most, the first time putting on drywall stilts can be an intimidating experience. Even on the lowest setting, the height can be somewhat scary. For this reason it is best to have a couple of friends around before you try walking in them for the first time. This will give you more confidence that there is someone there to support you if you are unbalanced or look as if you are about to fall.
Drywall stilts should be worn with either a pair of heavy duty work boots or sneakers that have a good amount of tread. This will offer you a more secure footing with less chance of slipping. It's best to start with the drywall stilts at the lowest height setting and move up as you feel more confident with your ability.
When inserting your feet into the stilts, slide your heel all the way back until they are firmly placed against the heel bracket. Then tighten the straps until your feet are securely anchored without any wiggle room. Drywall stilts will also have some form of upper calf attachment system, usually another set of straps that must be secured.
When walking in drywall stilts, you will have to lift your leg higher than when taking a normal step. Otherwise the toe of the stilt will most likely scuff the ground, which could result in you falling forward. As you get more comfortable walking in the stilts, you will learn exactly how high you need to lift your leg to clear the ground when walking. After a bit of practice, you should feel comfortable walking in drywall stilts without anybody around to support you.
Selecting The Right Drywall
When installing drywall, it is vital that one picks the right type and the correct thickness. For ceiling drywall, there are two standard types and thickness, each of which is designed for a different application. When framing spans that are 16 inches or less, drywall that is 1/2" thick is sufficient. If framing spans from 16 to 24 inches, one should use Type X 5/8". Type X drywall is fire resistant and is suitable for use in locations where a fire wall is required by state building codes.
4x8 foot sheets weigh 55 pounds and 4x12 foot sheets weight 82 pounds.
If drywalling a humid area that may be exposed to water, such as a bathroom wall, 1/2" water resistant drywall is the correct choice. If drywalling basement walls, mold resistant drywalling is a better choice, but neither of these types is suitable for ceilings.
Door jams, window jams, and electrical outlets are most often set up for 1/2" drywall, but if working on a curved wall surface, 3/8" and 1/4" are sometimes required. Some retailers feature flexible drywall, which is designed to be used on curved surfaces. Measure the space you have between the backing and the farthest forward the drywall can come to identify what thickness you should be using in these applications.
When picking drywall, most retailers sell 4x8 and 4x12 foot sheets. 4x8 foot sheets weigh 55 pounds and 4x12 foot sheets weight 82 pounds. It is best to use the largest sheets you can handle as this will result in fewer seams to tape and less waste.