Hanging Drywall on Ceilings
When hanging drywall always work from the top to the bottom. And always run the drywall sheets perpendicular to the framing.
Hang drywall on ceilings before walls, so the sheets on the walls can help support the corners of the ceiling sheets.
Mark joist locations on top plates of the walls so the joists are easier to find when fastening ceiling sheets.
Then mark the stud locations of walls on the ceiling sheets and on the floors so they're easier to find when fastening the wall sheets.
Nails vs. Screws
Building codes have very strict regulations about how many fasteners need to be used to attach drywall.
Nails are the easiest to use for do-it-yourselfers who are not comfortable with a screw gun. For 1/2" drywall, use 1-1/4" ring shank nails. This type of nail holds better into wood framing and prevents "popping" later on.
Use a drywall hammer to set the nails. It has a rounded head that sets the nails just a little below the surface and leaves a shallow dimple without breaking the paper on the drywall. This dimple then gets filled in with joint compound later.
With nails you usually need one every 7 inches on ceilings and every 8 inches along walls. This may not be enough, depending on the thickness of the drywall and the spacing of the joists or studs.
Using drywall screws can go a lot faster, if you have the right tool. You want to use a special electric drywall screw gun that lets you adjust it to sink the screws a little below the surface.
Screws are stronger than nails. You usually only need to use one screw every 12 inches along the ceilings and every 16 inches on walls.
TIP: Trying to pry out a bent nail may tear up more drywall than it's worth. Just nail it in so it's not sticking out from the surface and then mud over it later.
We've usually found that's it's easiest to use nails along the edges to get the sheets up, then go back and use screws "in the field."
Hanging Drywall on Ceilings
Getting sheets of drywall up to the ceiling can be tricky. And once you get them up, holding them in place while you screw or nail them is another challenge. You'll need the help of a drywall lift or drywalls jacks for this...although some people just use their heads!
Once you get a sheet in place, just nail or screw around the edges of the sheet. Then you can take the lift or jacks away (or give your head a rest if you're using that).
You can wait until all the sheets are up to put the fasteners in the middle. Although, sometimes it's easier to do this right away because you can see better where the joists are.
When fastening around the edges, keep the screw or nail at least 3/8" back from the edge so you don't fracture the drywall.
Start the ceiling using full sheets, and cut them so the edge is centered on a joist.
Stagger the joints between sheets from row to row, this will make your walls stronger.