1. Make Sure the Drywall is Hung Properly
You’ll need to make sure that you have the sheetrock in place and stable for long term hanging before you begin to get to the mudding. It needs to be screwed off, essentially, and not just at the corners.
You’ll need to run screws into the framing, particularly the studs, in order to ensure that everything is safe and up to code. Screws should be placed every six to eight inches along the studs.
Don’t just go driving screws all willy-nilly, if you hit an electrical or water line you’re not going to have a good time. Instead you’ll probably need to use a studfinder. There’s a way around that, and it can save you the money on an extra tool you’ll rarely use though.
Mark off the studs at the roof or ceiling with a carpenter’s pencil before you start screwing the board in. The 90° edge of the pencil will allow you to make sure you have accurate markings, make the lines a couple of inches long and center them on the stud. Then use a straightedge to mark off the line on the front of your sheet.
You’ll also need to make sure that all of your screws are properly sunk into the board before you begin. Usually all this will take with drywall screws is driving them straight when you get started. In most cases, there isn’t going to be much of a need for an actual countersink, just drive them straight right from the outset.
If you mess up, don’t worry too much about it, but keep in mind that if you have to make more than a couple of attempts you’re going to need to make a new hole. Do this too many times, and you’re going to end up with a Swiss cheesed wall.
Don’t bother with nails. Seriously, don’t. The risk of an amateur putting their hammer through the sheetrock is pretty high and they’re not as accurate anyways.
You will also need to make sure that the pieces you’ve hung are pieced together as closely as possible. Don’t get all worked up and think you have to be an artisan with a razor knife, but any gap over an eighth of an inch or so is going to cause a lot of trouble.
If your wall is hung and all of the above is in order, you’re ready to move on to the next step.