Before I began working on the addition, I had not considered that the movement of materials would prove to be a crucial part of my work. For drywall, as much as for cement and shingles, transport is indeed an important activity.
Walls are not as strong as they look. The drywall that covers them is, in most cases, only a four-by-eight-foot, 1/2-inch slab of gypsum covered with some paper. It is not hard to put a hole in the sheet or gouge a corner. Dragging it along a cement driveway can wreak havoc on its edges.
When drywall is moved, it should be treated as delicately as if it were a pane of glass.
Drywall's ingenious packaging is composed of two one-inch wide strips of cardboard. These strips (one at either end) hold together two sheets of wallboard facing each other. Carrying this package in one piece is beyond the capabilities of a single human being. To move the awkward sheets individually, one must rip away the strips holding the ends.
You will find that tearing drywall ends can be the highlight of your day. It is akin to tearing off the perforated top of a frozen pizza box. Only your mouth is not watering when you are working with drywall.
Because you do not want to drag wallboard, it is difficult to move from one location to another. It can be done with one person by gripping it on the two eight-foot sides, bending over as though you are dipping Ginger Rogers in a Rhumba, and stumbling forward until you accidentally run her into a wall.
I have also tried gripping it with both hands on the top side and resting the bottom on my right foot. Although this allows me to see where I am going, it is like trying to dance with Ginger standing on your toes. You are likely to smash her into a wall anyway.
The two-person method of transport is easier. Nevertheless, there is some controversy over how the board should be held. It is easier to drop if one holds it from the top. Yet holding it from the bottom has potential for smashing it into the ceiling and makes it more difficult to see where you are going.
Ideally, in the two-person method, you should carry the board from the ends with the plane of the board perpendicular to the floor. Both parties should stay in step. It is important to keep in mind that the rate of movement for each person is going to differ as drywall is moved over stairs. This occurs because a person on stairs moves less distance per step than the person not on stairs. As a result, the person on the lower end of the board pushes too hard and the person on the upper end gets knocked down. The human injury is inconsequential; yet the drywall loses a great gouge to the step in which it has just been rammed. This is called the Laurel effect.
Its corollary comes at the top of the stairs when the person in front reaches level floor and the person at the bottom is still on the stairs. The man on top, moving faster, has a tendency to pull the board out of the other fellow's hands. If the person on the lower end holds on to the board, he is pitched forward into the steps, banging his shin (still inconsequential - if you are on the upper end). Either way, the gypsum is subjected to another collision with a step. This is called the Hardy effect.
As you can see, in a short distance, through the Laurel and Hardy effects, the wallboard has potential to be beaten into a nearly unrecognizable piece of chalk.
A third effect comes into play when both parties reach the top of the steps. Then your partner, upset at your clumsiness, tries to knock you on the side of the head but you duck; flipping your fingers under your chin you say, "Nyuck, nyuck." This is known as the Three Stooges effect.
Purchase your drywall during an earlier phase of construction so that it is easier to get it to hard-to-reach places. Robin and I carried drywall into the upstairs addition before I put on the sheathing. This was an important step because the twisted passageway leading to the room made it impossible to get four-by-eight foot sheets up the stairs, and, even with the Fat Fireman Rule, there was no getting it through a window. We avoided the stairs completely by shoving the drywall up a ladder to an adjacent rooftop, then between wall studs.