Are you about to start a construction project that requires drywall? If so, it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of material you will need. There are several factors to consider when going through the selection process, as well as regulations and building codes that must be followed.
The following guide takes a comprehensive look at everything you will need to know before choosing the right drywall, including how to identify the best type of drywall for your project.
What is drywall?
Typically, drywall is a flat panel made of gypsum plaster that is held together between two sheets of thick paper. You can easily adhere it to metal or wood studs, using nails or screws to create the base foundation of walls and other structures.
Drywall is recognized as the actual material name, whereas Sheetrock is a specific brand of drywall sheet. It’s important to note that these two terms are often used interchangeably.
The Different Types of Drywall
As the name implies, standard drywall is just that—standard. Generally, there are no special features added to the design of these drywall sheets, making them an ideal selection for residential construction and office buildings.
- Suitable for walls and ceilings.
- Suitable finishing for basements.
Some areas where construction is being completed may be damp, humid, or have a higher risk of developing mould if the proper materials are not installed. Mould-resistant drywall is designed with a paperless backing and special coating that helps prevent the build-up of mould in moist or humid areas.
- It helps extend the appearance of interior surfaces in wet or humid areas.
- A great choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
Along with mould-resistant drywall, areas with a higher likelihood of experiencing moisture and humidity may also benefit from moisture-resistant drywall. Similar to its mould-resistant counterpart, moisture-resistant drywall comes equipped with a paperless backing and an additional coating to prevent mould and moisture from developing.
- Ideal for bathrooms, basements, kitchens, laundry rooms, and utility rooms.
- In high-moisture shower areas, such as shower enclosures, use cement backer board.
Although you may be thinking it would be important to have fire-resistant drywall throughout your entire project, there are specific uses and areas that are recommended more than others. Specifically made with glass fibers that have an extra-thick design, fire-resistant drywall is ideal for utility rooms, garages, and areas near a furnace or wood stove.
- It helps prevent the spread and speed of fire.
- It generates less smoke than traditional drywall.
- It provides better room-to-room sound control than standard drywall.
- It is required by many building codes.
There are multiple different reasons why you may need to limit the amount of sound that travels through a space. Soundproof drywall is designed to reduce noise from traveling between walls. Designed to be thicker than most other drywall sheets, the two gypsum layers are often glued together with a special noise-dampening adhesive.
- It helps prevent noise from traveling between walls and ceilings.
- It has a noise-dampening core.
- It can be as thin as ½ inch and as thick as ⅝ inch.
- It can be replaced with two sheets of drywall you adhere together yourself.
- For best soundproofing, combine soundproof drywall with fiberglass insulation.
Once you have determined the type of drywall you need for your project, it’s then important to consider the required sheet size. In order for drywall to be long-lasting, it must fit into place properly, without any gaps or spaces.
Generally, there are no building code requirements for the length and width of drywall sheets, so the actual size determination comes down to the project’s needs.
Typically, drywall sheets come in multiples of four feet. By choosing the correct size for your specific project, you will manage to reduce the number of joints needed while also making the whole installation easier.
The three most common drywall sizes are:
- 4 x 8 foot: This refers to drywall sheets that measure 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. Often the most common size found at most hardware stores, the average ½ inch sheet in this size weighs approximately 57 pounds, making it easy to transport.
- 4 x 12 foot and 4 x 16 foot: These two different sizes are typically chosen for tall or long walls because of their ability to reduce the number of joints required, thus creating a smoother appearance.
- Cut sizes: Although this particular drywall size isn’t an official size, most home improvement stores and suppliers provide readily available, pre-cut sizes such as 2 x 2 foot options. These selections can be cut from a larger sheet, recovered from damaged sheets, or specifically cut to meet your required needs.
Something important to keep in mind when selecting drywall for your project is the different types of restrictions that surround your specific build. While there are no restrictions surrounding drywall sizes, building codes have strict requirements for drywall thickness.
Most suppliers offer the following four options:
1. ¼ inch:
- Typically the thinnest option available.
- Often the most economical choice.
- Ideal for creating curved walls or for placing over an existing surface.
- It only weighs about 38 pounds per sheet.
- It requires extra care while handling due to its fragile nature.
- Easily prone to bending and breaking.
2. ⅜ inch:
- Not a very common selection.
- Great for remodeling partitions or for patching existing drywall.
- An ideal option for covering any areas that have been worn or damaged.
3. ½ inch
- Usually, the most readily available option.
- Considered to be the industry standard for interior residential walls.
- Easy to carry and install.
- It can be used with almost any kind of frame.
4. ⅝ inch
- Generally reserved for ceilings and commercial projects.
- Often significantly heavier and more expensive than other options.
- The thickness makes it a preferred choice for soundproofing spaces.
- Far less likely to sag when used on a ceiling.
Factors to Consider When Selecting Drywall
In order to find the right drywall for your project, you need to consider the following factors:
- What is the room environment going to be like?
- Are there any height requirements for the build?
- What limitations exist within your budget?
- What other cost factors need to be considered when selecting materials?
- How much moisture protection does the space need?
- Does the space require a specialized function such as noise reduction, patchwork, or fire protection?
- Is the project bound by any building code expectations or regulations that may impact the type of drywall you use?
Moreover, whenever you’re deciding what type of drywall will best meet your needs, it’s important that you also take into account the installation costs involved with different materials. Things such as hanging, finishing, and taping could impact the overall cost of your drywall.
Additionally, remember to think about how much upkeep or changes will be made to the space over time, such as painting or refinishing, as some varieties of drywall require more maintenance than others.