The Best Drywall Lifts to Simplify Construction Projects

Anyone who has struggled to hang drywall will be delighted with the speed, ease, and accuracy of these useful machines.

Best Overall

The Paragon Pro Panellift 125 Drywall Lift on a white background.

Paragon Pro Panellift 125 Drywall Lift

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Best Bang for the Buck

The FDW Drywall Panel Hoist on a white background.

FDW Drywall Panel Hoist

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Best for Walls

The Paragon Pro Panellift Hangpro 150 Drywall Lift on a white background.

Paragon Pro Panellift Hangpro 150 Drywall Lift

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I know from personal experience that a good drywall lift can make a world of difference. Without one, hanging drywall is a two-person task. But with one, a single person can tackle walls and ceilings quickly, safely, and with very little effort. For those taking on construction jobs or remodeling on their own, a drywall lift is absolutely indispensable.

There are plenty of drywall lifts to choose from, and they can be surprisingly affordable. However, while many look very similar, there are often small variations that can make a major difference. After checking out almost 30 drywall lifts currently on the market, we put together the following article to explain the key features in detail. We’ve also recommended our picks for the best drywall lifts for a variety of projects.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Paragon Pro Panellift 125 Drywall Lift
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: FDW Drywall Panel Hoist
  3. BEST FOR WALLS: Paragon Pro Panellift Hangpro 150 Drywall Lift
  4. BEST HYDRAULIC: Paragon Pro Panellift 460 Hydraulic Drywall Lift
  5. BEST REACH: Fitnessclub Drywall Lift Panel Hoist
  6. BEST CHAIN DRIVE: Paragon Pro Panellift 439 Drywall Lift
  7. BEST CONTRACTOR: Paragon Pro Panellift 138-2 Drywall Lift
  8. BEST BASE: Artist Hand Drywall Panel Hoist
  9. BEST CRADLE: GypTool Drywall Lift Panel Jack Hoist
  10. BEST THIRD HAND: Xinqiao Third Hand Tool Support System
A person using the FDW Drywall Panel Hoist to hold a large drywall panel in a room undergoing a remodel.
Photo: amazon.com

How We Chose the Best Drywall Lifts

Having remodeled two homes from the ground up, I have hung more than a few sheets of drywall. My drywall lifter has allowed me to tackle projects solo, and it has saved a tremendous amount of time and effort in the process.

I called on that experience when putting together this curated selection. Weight capacity, lifting height, and sheet size are obvious headline features, but I also looked at general construction, mobility, stability, and the type of drive used for lifting. Price is also a key issue, of course.

While researching, I also reached out to trade professionals. Chris Hock, owner of Earth Saving Solutions, a construction and remodeling company in Denver, Colorado, is also a drywall lift enthusiast. “My trusty drywall lift has been an indispensable ally in my diverse construction endeavors.” His key piece of advice? “Determine the size and the amount of drywall you will need to be lifting, as there can be a huge weight difference. Most units are manual and require some effort, but there is always a super-fancy powered option.”

Our Top Picks

The following are what we believe to be the 10 best drywall lifts on the market right now. There should be something here for all projects and budgets.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 11 feet; 15 feet with extension (sold separately)
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Economical, pro-quality model from what may be the best-known brand name in the industry
  • Durable steel body, reliable cable drive, and simple tool-free assembly
  • Height extension, board loader, and storage cart also available (at additional cost)

Cons

  • Complaints are rare, but poor packaging can result in shipping damage

Paragon Pro is one of the world’s leading names in material lifts and work platforms, and Panellift is their drywall lifting tool brand. This model, the 125, has specifications identical to its best-selling model 138. However, while the 138 is made in the U.S., the 125 is manufactured abroad, and as a result, it’s about 30 percent cheaper.

In our view, it offers tremendous value for the money while still delivering the same standards of durability and reliability. It offers easy tool-free assembly, and it breaks down equally quickly for storage. A height extension (available at an extra cost) can increase its reach to 15 feet.

Get the Paragon Pro Panellift 125 drywall lift at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 11 feet; 15.4 feet with extension (sold separately)
  • Maximum sheet size: 12 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Budget-friendly drywall panel lift that has many of the features of more expensive models
  • Allows DIYers to tackle walls as well as both flat and sloping ceilings
  • Anti-skid feet and foot-operated wheel locks maintain position

Cons

  • More lightweight than some, so not recommended for commercial use

Those looking for a cheap drywall lift for DIY projects may want to consider this model from FDW. Its capabilities are virtually identical to drywall machines costing two or three times as much money, and it features a similar design to many, so it’s easy to assemble and use. If there’s one drawback, it’s that it isn’t as robust as some, so while it can tackle most jobs, it may not have the durability for professional use.

Get the FDW drywall lift at Amazon, Wayfair, or Walmart (in black).

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 10 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Patented design specially engineered for hanging drywall sheets on vertical walls
  • Sturdy and supportive frame with U.S.-made aircraft-grade cable
  • Easy tilting also makes it useful for lifting and transporting other sheet materials

Cons

  • As a specialized tool, its price may be out of reach of many DIYers

Although a standard drywall ceiling lift can also be used for vertical walls, the method is a little hit-or-miss in terms of accuracy, and there’s a risk of damaging the sheets. The Panellift Hangpro 150 has been specifically designed as a drywall lift for walls. As such, it raises sheets vertically for quick, easy, trouble-free fixing. As a bonus, it’s also great for lifting and moving oriented strand board, plywood, and other sheet materials.

Get the Paragon Pro Panellift Hangpro drywall lift at Amazon or The Home Depot.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 14.6 feet; 16.1 feet with extension (sold separately)
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Provides almost effortless drywall lifting, helping to minimize user fatigue
  • Easy assembly and simple push-button operation; made in the U.S.
  • Uses battery power, so it’s ideal for jobsites with no electrical supply

Cons

  • Requires a considerable investment that puts it firmly in the professional category

Standard 8-foot-long by 4-foot-wide drywall sheets weigh around 40 pounds, so lifting them all day can be tiring, even if you’re using a cable or chain drive. On busy jobsites, this hydraulic drywall lift can reduce a lot of the physical effort so that you can focus on the task at hand. The push-button motor is easy to use, and because it’s battery-powered, the lifter can even function where there’s no mains electricity supply. A charger is also included.

Get the Paragon Pro Panellift 460 drywall lift at Amazon.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 15.97 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Provides greater reach for rooms with high, flat or sloped ceilings
  • Heavy-duty steel frame with built-in winch brake and wheel locks
  • Breaks down into 3 manageable pieces for easy transportation or storage

Cons

  • It will flex at full extension, and there have been a few user reports of welding faults

The standard reach for a drywall holder is 11 feet, and while extensions are available for some, they invariably cost extra money and add complexity to the assembly. This drywall hoist offers nearly 16 feet of reach without an extension, and it works equally well with flat and sloping ceilings. In other ways, it’s very similar to its competitors, so it’s easy to use. A few people have reported concerns about lateral movement when fully extended, but some flexing in drywall lifts is normal.

Get the Fitnessclub drywall lift at Amazon.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 14.5 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 200 pounds

Pros

  • Extra-strong chain drive allows for the lifting of heavier sheet materials
  • Made in the U.S. with the renowned build quality expected from the brand
  • Drill drive (available as an extra) turns the hand crank into a powered lifter

Cons

  • Even with lower load capacities, most of its more affordable competitors are capable of lifting most drywall sheets

The normal load capacity for a drywall panel lifter is 150 pounds, and for the majority of tasks, this is perfectly acceptable. However, for those situations where lifting heavier sheet materials is necessary, Panellift offers the 439 model. This has a 200-pound lifting ability courtesy of the heavy-duty chain drive, which is stronger than the steel cable normally used.

Get the Paragon Pro Panellift 439 drywall lift at Amazon or The Home Depot.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 11 feet; 15 feet with extension (sold separately)
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Latest iteration of a lift that has long been a contractor favorite; originated in 1973
  • Robust, versatile design long ago set the standard that almost all competitors now follow
  • Quick and easy to set up or break down without tools

Cons

  • Virtually identical to the Panellift 125, only more expensive because it is made in the U.S.

We’ve been unable to find out who invented the drywall lift, but the original version of this 138-2 Panellift was certainly among the first on the market back when it was released in 1973. As the brand’s best-selling lift, this is the latest update on a long-proven design. The robust construction and all-around capabilities are well suited to the tough environment of professional jobsites. Those happy to invest in U.S.-made equipment will find little to fault here.

Get the Paragon Pro Panellift 138-2 drywall lift at Amazon or The Home Depot.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 11 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • 4-wheel base offers added stability and includes a convenient platform
  • Normal assembly is tool-free but can be broken down further for more compact storage
  • Unusual cradle clips give a positive grip on sheets and are easy to release

Cons

  • There have been several reports of problems with the cable pulley

The Artist Hand drywall lifter’s stand-out feature is that it has four wheels instead of the usual three. This gives greater stability and arguably more confidence to those who have not used one of these devices before. It also comes with a convenient platform that’s sturdy enough to stand on, or it can be used to keep tools and drywall screws within arm’s reach.

Get the Artist Hand drywall lift at Amazon or Walmart.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 11 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: 16 feet long by 4 feet wide
  • Load capacity: 150 pounds

Pros

  • Cradle has auto-locking outriggers and support tabs that don’t interfere with sheet placement
  • Competitively priced with a heavy-duty winch crank for improved durability
  • Welded steel frame is enamel coated for long-term corrosion resistance

Cons

  • A number of fault reports suggest quality control could be improved

One of the key components of a good drywall lift is the cradle that supports the sheet while the user drives screws into the wall or ceiling studs. The hooks on most drywall lifts are OK, but they can occasionally snag on insulation. The GypTool drywall lift uses pins instead. These provide the same support but never get in the way. Another convenient feature is the inclusion of auto-locking outriggers rather than manual ones.

Get the GypTool drywall lift at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.

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Product Specs 

  • Maximum reach: 9.52 feet
  • Maximum sheet size: Not applicable
  • Load capacity: 154 pounds

Pros

  • 2 telescopic poles are invaluable for supporting drywall sheets where lifts won’t fit
  • Quick-release lever has a safety lock to prevent unexpected closure
  • Pivoting end caps can be used with or without nonmarring soft-grip covers

Cons

  • Some feel the tube walls should be thicker, and heavy impacts can cause damage

Our final pick isn’t actually a drywall lift; rather, much like

drywall stilts

or a drywall foot lift, this is one of those essential drywall hanging tools that you’ll regularly find being used by pros. These versatile support poles are the perfect solution in tight spaces where a drywall lift won’t fit or when working at awkward compound angles that lifts can’t accommodate. They can also be used to support cabinets, crown moldings, and anywhere a third hand is needed.

Get the Xinqiao drywall lift at Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Drywall Lift

Except for powered models and those designed specifically for hanging drywall on walls, most drywall lifts look very similar. As such, it’s important to consider their distinguishing factors before making your choice. The following are the key features that will impact that decision.

Weight Capacity

The most common drywall size is probably 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by ½ inch thick, which tends to weigh around 40 pounds. Given that most drywall lifts can support at least 130 pounds, it’s pretty clear that for many lifts, the weight capacity won’t be an issue.

However, drywall sheets measuring 12 feet long by 4 feet wide by ⅝ inch thick are also used frequently, and those weigh around 110 pounds each. There’s a risk these large sheets could put a strain on lightweight lifts, so one of the more robust 150-pound lifts might be a better choice. There is also moisture-resistant (usually green) and fire-resistant (usually red) drywall, both of which are considerably heavier than standard drywall sheets. Those who regularly hang these sheets might want to consider a hydraulic lifter.

Height Range

While 8-foot-high ceilings were the norm for many years, 9- and 10-foot ceilings are now common. With angled and custom ceilings, drywall may need to be fixed even higher, so it’s important to know the maximum reach of the lift you are considering. Most will comfortably reach 11 feet, though we reviewed models that can stretch up to 16 feet.

Supported Drywall Size

Drywall lift cradles have telescopic arms to accommodate different sheet sizes. Although in theory, it’s OK for a sheet to hang over the edges of these arms, there’s a risk that it will flex and break if that overhang is too large.

Most of the models we reviewed are capable of working with 16-foot-long by 4-foot-wide sheets (15.9 feet is sometimes quoted), which is the largest size usually available. They will also support the increasingly popular Trusscore boards.

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Bob Beacham

Contributing Writer

Bob Beacham is an engineer by trade and has spent 35 years working on everything from auto parts to oil rigs. He is also an avid DIY enthusiast. Bob started writing for the Bob Vila team in 2020 and covers tools, outdoor equipment, and home improvement projects.

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