How Much Does It Cost to Finish Drywall?

Gary Evans
by Gary Evans

Completing a new room often involves installing some kind of material over the bare walls and the ceiling. Many homeowners opt to use drywall for that specific task because it can cover up the space while introducing some useful benefits. Drywall being fire-resistant, easy to work with, and affordable means it can be a positive addition to your home.

However, the dull appearance of bare drywall may not be something that strikes your fancy. You have to finish the drywall first so you can paint it and turn it into an attractive part of your home. So, how much will finishing those bare drywall panels cost you?

The average cost of finishing drywall breaks down to $1.90 per square foot. The lowest finish level costs $1.25 per square foot and it’s known as the level 0 finish. You will have to spend $2.70 per square foot if you want the highest finish level. Adding a textured coating to the finished drywall will cost an additional $1.50 per square foot.

Finishing your drywall is crucial if you want to beautify those elements of your home. It’s not a home improvement task many folks are familiar with, but it’s important if you intend to use drywall often. Discover how much you will have to spend on drywall finishing by continuing with the rest of this article.

Do You Need to Hire Drywall Installers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

What Is the Process of Finishing Drywall?

When you consider all the benefits that drywall provides, you can see why it is used so often for home building. We’ve already touched on the benefits of using drywall in the introduction, so there’s no need to go over them again.

What you need to focus on instead is trying to mask the boring appearance of drywall. Painting over the drywall will help, but you must complete a different step ahead of that.

Finishing drywall is all about smoothing the spots between the installed panels. You can smooth out those spots by taping over them, covering them with a compound, and sanding them down. If the aforementioned steps are done correctly, the drywall will be completely smooth and ready to paint.

Don’t be fooled by how seemingly easy the process of finishing drywall is. One mistake and you can end up ruining the panel. Entrust the job of finishing drywall to the professionals to make sure you get the right result.

Cost to Finish Drywall by Level

Drywall Finish LevelCost Per Square Foot
Level 0$1.25
Level 1$1.50
Level 2$1.75
Level 3$2
Level 4$2.25
Level 5$2.70

Finishing your drywall is important if you want it to look good inside your home. However, it’s not enough to just tell the workers that you want your drywall finished. You also have to let them know what kind of finish you want for your drywall.

There are six finish levels you can choose for your drywall. Take the time to learn about those different finish levels so you can select the one that matches your home décor best.

Feel free to use this section to learn more about the different drywall finish levels. We’ll also highlight how much each finish level costs so you can make a more informed decision.

Level 0 Finish

Let’s start with the level 0 finish. For a level 0 drywall finish, you’ll have to pay about $1.25 per square foot.

We call it the level 0 finish because there is no actual finishing involved. The workers will just install your drywall and leave it alone. They will not do anything to change the appearance of the bare drywall surface.

It may seem weird to go for a level 0 finish, but it’s fine for certain parts of your home. For instance, you may not need to finish the drywall panels if you’re just using them to cover your basement walls. A level 0 finish can also work fine for other parts of your home that are often empty.

You may also like the bare appearance of the drywall. If you already like how it looks, there’s no need to pay extra for finishing or painting.

Level 1 Finish

Moving up, we can now discuss the level 1 finish for drywall. You’ll have to pay approximately $1.50 per square foot if you want a level 1 finish.

The level 1 finish is pretty similar to the level 0 finish in that most of the panel remains untouched. The focus of the level 1 finish is placed squarely on the seams between the drywall panels.

Those seams are covered with tape so they are properly concealed. The strips of tape used are also covered with joint compound to prevent them from getting exposed.

Covering only the seams makes sense if you found the initial installation to be sloppy. Even if you don’t feel the need to paint the drywall, you may still want to hide the poor craftsmanship. Paying for a level 1 drywall finish provides a solution for that problem.

Level 2 Finish

A level 2 drywall finish costs around $1.75 per square foot. This level includes the work done for a level 1 finishing including something extra.

By something extra, we’re referring to the fact that more joint compound will be used for a level 2 finish. The joint compound will be used to cover the screw holes along with the strips of tape. Only one layer of joint compound is used.

The goal for a level 2 finish is to create a relatively flat surface. It doesn’t have to be completely even, but it should be flat.

Flattening the drywall surface will allow you to cover it with a different material. Tiles are often used for that purpose.

Tiles work well for this specific application because they can form a solid layer over the drywall. No one would even know what the drywall surface looks like unless the tile covering is damaged in some way.

Level 3 Finish

Next up, you have the level 3 finish for drywall. A level 3 drywall finish will cost around $2 per square foot.

If you want a level 3 finish, that means you want two layers of joint compound covering the drywall surface. Adding that much joint compound to the drywall surface will enable the creation of a smooth finish. You can play around with that smooth finish to come up with something more interesting.

Typically, homeowners who want a level 3 finish also complete the drywall surface by adding a texture of some kind. We will talk more about the textures you can add to drywall a bit later in the article.

Level 4 Finish

You can expect to pay about $2.25 per square foot if you want a level 4 finish for your drywall surface. The higher cost is due to the usage of more joint compound.

To complete a level 4 drywall finish, the workers must apply three layers of joint compound. Applying that much joint compound allows for the creation of an even smoother surface. That surface is now smooth enough to receive some paint.

You need that much joint compound between the drywall and the paint because the finished product would look off without it. The paint will appear rough and it may even chip away in certain spots where the drywall is a bit more rugged.

Also, the level 4 finish is the standard most professionals follow. If you tell the people working on your home to finish the drywall, they will likely apply this kind of finish. Clarify the finish level you want so you can avoid that mishap.

Level 5 Finish

Finally, we have the level 5 finish. Level 5 is the highest finish level you can choose for your drywall. You will have to pay around $2.70 per square foot if you want a level 5 finish.

Those earlier coatings of joint compound are retained for a level 5 finish, and something more is added. The additional layer is a skim coat and its job is to make the drywall surface as smooth as possible.

High-gloss paints are the ones usually paired with level 5 drywall finishes. Given how visible the drywall becomes when paired with that high-gloss paint, you can see why the extra smooth finish is required.

Cost of Adding a Hand-Applied Texture on to the Drywall

Finishing and painting are not the only ways you can change the appearance of drywall. Adding some texture will also help with that goal. If you want to introduce a hand-applied texture to the drywall, you can expect to spend $1.80 per square foot.

A new texture can instantly make your drywall more interesting. It can also be used as an alternative to paint if you want to cover up the drywall.

There are different types of hand-applied drywall textures for you to choose from. Let’s learn more about them below.

Comb Texture

The comb texture looks like small fans bunched together to create something interesting. That texture spread out over a large surface can be mesmerizing.

Since the comb texture resembles fans that are placed close to each other, you may be wondering why it has that name. Well, the name comes from the way the texture is created.

A worker will take a toothed trowel and move it in the same way you would move a comb. The worker will continue to do that until the full texture is finished.

Crow’s Foot Texture

The crow’s foot or crow’s feet texture is another one that can be applied on drywall surfaces. The aforementioned texture is defined by how irregular it is.

Workers use stomp brushes that are attached to create this type of texture. This texture works well in spots where the pattern can also be easily viewed.

Hawk and Trowel Texture

Similar to the crow’s foot texture, the hawk and trowel texture also uses randomness to create visual interest. However, there is a notable difference between those two textures. While the crow’s foot pattern is featured only on one layer, the hawk and trowel pattern is spread across multiple layers.

The introduction of the multiple layers gives this particular pattern a more unique look. Consider it for your drywall if you want that visual and textural impact.

Rosebud Texture

The rosebud texture is among the more intricate patterns you can feature on your drywall. To create that texture, the worker will take a single stomp brush and press it onto the drywall. They will then apply force to create the floral pattern.

Precision is important when applying the rosebud texture onto the drywall. Be inconsistent when it comes to applying force and the pattern may turn out poorly.

Skip Trowel Texture

To create the skip trowel texture, the worker will use a trowel to go over the joint compound while it’s still wet. They will hold the trowel at an angle to raise some parts of the joint compound.

This pattern is supposed to be random. The worker will not aim for specific parts of the joint compound. They will just allow the trowel to work and create the pattern.

Swirl Texture

One more type of hand-applied texture that you can choose for the drywall is the swirl pattern. The swirl pattern is made using a brush with thick bristles.

The brush is used to sweep the joint compound and create distinctive patterns in the process. The patterns made can either be full circles or arcs depending on what you prefer.

Cost of Adding a Sprayed Texture on to the Drywall

Are you not in love with any of the hand-applied textures? That’s fine because you can still alter the appearance of the drywall with the help of a sprayed texture. Adding a sprayed texture to drywall will cost approximately $1.15 per square foot.

You have fewer options to choose from if you want a sprayed texture. Still, they do introduce some pretty interesting characteristics that you may find beautiful.

Knockdown Texture

The knockdown texture is made by first spraying the drywall with some joint compound. While the joint compound is still wet, a drywall knife is used to knock down some of the peaks that have formed.

Going with the knockdown texture makes sense if you want a subtle design. You can still tell the pattern is there, but it’s not as prominent as many of the alternatives.

Orange Peel Texture

Creating the orange peel texture involves adding dimples to the drywall surface. Once you take a step back and look at the dimples, you’ll see that they resemble orange peel.

Notably, you can change how big the dimples are for the orange peel texture. You can go with small, medium, or large dimples.

Popcorn Texture

You can also choose the popcorn texture for your drywall. The popcorn texture is something many people are familiar with because it’s been around for a while. This pattern is defined by the clusters of rounded materials that form randomly on the surface of the drywall.

Do You Need to Hire Drywall Installers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

How Much Does a Permit for Finishing Drywall Cost?

You may need to secure a permit before you can hang and finish your drywall. Whether or not a permit will be required will depend on where you live. Permits for this type of project usually cost around $300.

What Is the Most Expensive Type of Drywall?

Purple board is likely the most expensive type of drywall available where you live. A single purple board panel that measures 4’ x 12’ costs about $55 on average.

How Much Does a Level 5 Drywall Finish Cost?

Do you want to complete your drywall by adding a level 5 finish? You’ll have to pay $2.70 per square foot for that delicate finishing touch.

Gary Evans
Gary Evans

Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

More by Gary Evans