How to Bend Drywall like a Pro

Drywall is a material that makes it possible to create curved walls and arches, but to make these structures it must necessarily be bent.

Curved drywall

In this article we will look at what techniques to adopt to bend plasterboard and make flexible what on the surface look like rather rigid panels.

The Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí claimed that there are no angles in nature, which is why the architectural forms of his buildings were always soft and curved.

As far as I know, Gaudí did not use plasterboard, but what is important is that living in an environment with curved surfaces generates more harmony than those masonry cubes that are, in general, our houses.

Bending drywall may seem challenging, but it is always less so than making a curved masonry structure.

Generally, it always takes at least two people to curve a sheet of drywall, people who can hold the sheet at the ends and force the bend until it can be anchored to the structure with appropriate screws or clamps.

Bending the sheets is all the more difficult the more their thickness increases and, with it, their rigidity.

Bending the sheets, however, is perhaps not even the most complicated thing in case we want to make a curved arch or wall with drywall.

The most difficult thing, or at least the most time-consuming, is to create the structure of aluminum profiles that will have to support the drywall: the more curves there are, the more complex this structure can become.

Today there are special aluminum profiles that make it easy to create as many curves as we want, but they must then be stably anchored to other rigid profiles.

There are, therefore, three different ways of bending a drywall sheet to achieve the curvature we want, ways that vary in technique and also according to the thickness of the sheet.

Thin sheets of gypsum board to be bent directly onto the structure

Thin sheets only 6.5 mm thick can be folded like a thin sheet of plywood and allow for barrel, sail, and cross vaults.

The thinner the sheet, the more flexible and lightweight it will be.

This type of sheet finds its ideal field of application precisely in the creation of vaults and aesthetic structures that, as such, do not have special sound-absorbing and heat-insulating qualities.

Bending a 6.5-mm sheet is really easy and you can almost do it yourself.

Obviously, if we want to make a plasterboard ceiling that also has a thermo-acoustic insulation function, we will not bet on this type of sheet, unless we combine it with some other insulating material, of course.

"Wet" drywall bending

Now let's explain how to bend plasterboard sheets using the "wet" method.

For this method you will need a special roller with metal tips and a long handle. If the job is short, you can use a punch or sharp nail instead of a professional roller.

professional roller for plasterboardFirst you need to pierce the sheet on the concave side, without creating much pressure on the sheet, just let the tips enter the sheet slightly.

Then wet the sheet on the perforated side, using a sponge (a brush) and clean water at room temperature.

It is best to use regular drywall (white, green-against moisture), as it is easier to dampen.

When the sheet has softened it should be immediately placed on a bending template and held in place by clamps or tape.

After a period of 12 to 36 hours, depending on the thickness of the sheet, the plasterboard will have dried and regained its rigidity, while retaining the newly acquired curvature.

Dry bending of drywall

If thin sheets are used only on special occasions and, ultimately, not everyone appreciates them.

square and cutter for gypsum sheetWhen switching to sheets with standard thicknesses of 9.5 and 12.5 mm things get complicated because, of course, flexibility is very limited.

In order to make the sheet take a curvature, it is necessary to make incisions of about 2 mm and at a variable distance with respect to the radius of curvature we want to achieve.

The tighter the radius of curvature, the larger, and closer together, the incisions must be.

IMPORTANT: When working with drywall, one must remember that it can only be bent along the length of the sheet.

You have to be very careful that the incisions do not go too deep otherwise you risk cutting (breaking) the sheet.

To make these parallel incisions you can use a square and a well-sharpened cutter or there are special cutters.

And here is a video showing how many possible solutions can be created by curving drywall.