Pick the Right Drywall Type for Your Project
Homeowners can choose between fire- and moisture-resistant drywall, and select drywall thickness. (Photo courtesy of Rose C. of Annandale, Va.)
If it was built in the last 50 years, your home most likely utilizes drywall in its walls and ceilings to cover up the structural framing, insulation and electrical wiring.
Easy to install, affordable and sturdy, drywall became increasingly popular during the post-World War II housing boom in the United States and replaced lathe-and-plaster as the construction technique of choice.
Most drywall is comprised of the same material, a layer of gypsum plaster sandwiched between two sheets of heavy paper. Gypsum is a naturally occurring soft mineral that can also be synthesized, so after drywall is torn out or discarded, the gypsum can be processed for use as an agricultural soil amendment.
But there are a variety of differences in the types of drywall, and knowing the difference between them can ensure any project involving drywall installation or repair achieves the most effective result to suit your needs.
Drywall comes in a variety of thicknesses, including 3/8-inch, ½-inch and 5/8-inch sheets. The most commonly used sheet thickness for most walls is the ½-inch variety. However, if you’re looking to increase the soundproofing in your home, a thicker 5/8-inch sheet or two sheets layered on top of one another can provide improved sound dampening.
When drywall is applied to ceilings, ½- to 5/8- inch sheets are recommended to reduce any potential sagging that may occur over time.
When moisture is present, such as in bathrooms, kitchens or homes in especially humid climates, special drywall products are sometimes needed to prevent decay from moisture penetration or mold growth.
RELATED: Is Drywall Fire Resistant?
Commonly called greenboard or tile backing, this moisture-resistant drywall should be used in bathroom applications and some areas of the kitchen.
Homes built in especially hot, muggy or humid climates can benefit from specially made mold-resistant drywall, which is manufactured specifically to inhibit mold growth.
No matter the type, installing new drywall or repairing large sections of it is a project best left to a professional. While the product is easily affordable, relatively simple and sturdy once installed, drywall breaks easily if not handled properly and can significantly detract from the appearance of a home if not cut, installed and finished correctly.
For more information: Angie's List Guide to Drywall and Plaster
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on Dec. 2, 2011.