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A drywall hoist is a device used in construction that securely clamps a sheet of drywall and can be used to position it for installation on a wall or ceiling. Promoted as a tool to help the do-it-yourselfer hanging drywall without helpers, many construction crews use drywall hoists because they save labor. Usually made of steel or aluminum, most drywall hoists are manually-operated, although electric-powered models are available.
The introduction of drywall to the construction industry was revolutionary because it reduced the amount of time necessary to create a paint-ready wall from a week or so to a day or two. A standard-sized sheet of drywall is a layer of plaster pressed between two sheets of very thick paper. It's used worldwide and called by a number of different names, such as gypsum board, Sheetrock™, plasterboard, and Gyproc™. It's attached to wooden or metal framework to make walls and ceilings. The most common size is 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by ½ inch thick (1.22 m x 2.44 m x 1.27 cm).
One of its major drawbacks, though, is that at approximately 70 pounds (32 kg), it’s fairly heavy and somewhat awkward to work with. For one person working alone, it’s very difficult to position and install on a wall, and installation on a ceiling is almost impossible. The problem of dealing with this heavy and awkward material led to the development of the drywall hoist, which permits a single user to raise and position a sheet of drywall for installation even on a ceiling.
There are three major components to a drywall hoist: an assembly called a pad that clamps the drywall sheet, a shaft on which the pad is mounted, and a base. The pad is the part of the hoist that holds the drywall securely as it’s being raised and positioned; it should be adjustable to accommodate drywall’s varying lengths, widths and thicknesses. The shaft is a telescoping construction that’s extended or collapsed by means of an internally-contained winch; extending and collapsing the shaft raises and lowers the pad. The base is a three-point assembly with sturdy casters that can be easily rolled around a worksite. Despite its sturdy construction and portability, a drywall hoist is meant to handle only a single sheet of drywall at a time and can be damaged if used to move multiple sheets.
Drywall hoists are generally available in two grades, light-duty and heavy-duty. Light-duty drywall hoists are designed primarily for residential renovation and are more often rented from home improvement centers than purchased. They generally don’t extend above 11 feet (3.35 m). Heavy-duty hoists are intended for more continuous use and have increased capacities. For example, their pads can generally be raised to 16 feet (4.88 m); this requires that their bases be larger and heavier due to the elevated center of gravity at full extension.