What is a Drywall Lift?

B. Turner

A drywall lift is a piece of construction equipment used for erecting ceilings and walls. Traditional drywall ceilings were constructed using one to two people to lift and hold the sheet of wallboard into place while another installer used screws or nails to secure it to the ceiling joists. Using a drywall lift, a single person can quickly and safely build walls or ceilings with a greatly reduce risk of muscle strain or injury. The drywall lift not only helps raise the material into the correct position, but also holds it in place while the installer fastens it to the deck.

Drywall lifts allow one person to safely and easily build walls or ceilings.
Drywall lifts allow one person to safely and easily build walls or ceilings.

The first drywall lifts were made from rudimentary wooden beams, sometimes known as T-supports. While the installer still had to lift the drywall to ceiling level, he could use the T-supports to hold it in place until it was safely secured. The modern drywall lift is a bit more complex, and is designed to facilitate the difficult task of lifting the drywall up to the ceiling.

Today's drywall lifts are made from steel or aluminum and have three basic parts. There is a wheeled base that allows installers to easily move the lift around the room. A cranking mechanism is attached to the base, and is used to lift and lower the drywall as needed. Finally, there is an adjustable support pad. It is made of a series of support beams which hold the drywall in place using sturdy metal hooks. This support surface can be rotated in a complete circle so that the drywall can be maneuvered as necessary.

There are a number of different models and options available when choosing a lift. Some versions are lightweight and portable, and may even fold up to fit into a truck or van. Others are heavier and more solidly-constructed, but may be difficult to transport. More expensive versions will typically offer more durability and versatility, and often allow the support pad to be manipulated at a greater range of angles and positions. The crank system may be manually operated or hydraulic, which makes it easier to lift the drywall into place.

Small drywall lifts can be rented from most home improvement stores, and can be easily dissembled to fit into a car or truck. To operate a drywall lift, place a sheet of drywall into the hooks with the finish side facing down. Next angle the drywall so that it is in the correct location for installation. The sheet should be horizontal for ceiling installation or near vertical for installation on the walls. Use the crank to raise the sheet into place, then fasten it securely before lowering the lift.

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