When the National Inventors Hall of Fame named Augustine Sackett to its roles, the one-time Civil War sailor wasn’t honored for his wartime victories. He invented Sackett Board in 1894 by patenting a product that forever changed interior wall construction: drywall.
His gypsum plaster and paper idea proved genius. Drywall can be installed in one day, replacing time-consuming, labor-intensive wet-plaster construction.
Today, the average home contains over 6,000 feet of drywall; sales top $3 billion annually. Augustine may have died in 1914, but his legacy remains a construction staple now available in distinct types, each of which has a specific purpose.
Use our guide to decide which one is right for the project you have in mind.
Below we are listing and discussing 10 different types of drywall which are available in the market right now.
1) Standard type or white board
Standard drywall comes in pre-fabricated panels that are manufactured of gypsum plaster with fibers “sandwiched” between layers of paper via bonding agents.
Then panels are subjected to an extrusion process that squeezes moisture out of the sheets before they are baked in a kiln and dried.
This entire process is necessary to solidify and bond elements if these panels are to properly serve as wall and ceiling coverings used to finish most interior construction projects.
2) Fire-resistant drywall
Also known as fire-rated Type X drywall, this version of wall board is often required by building codes to reduce the risk of blazes in a designated building.
Importantly, fire resistant drywall isn’t fireproof, but it will slow down a fire appreciably so there is less property damage.
During the creation stage, materials used to craft this type includes glass fibers and because this product is thicker than standard drywall sheets, fire can be contained for half an hour (1/2-inch) or an hour (3/8-inch) before it starts to spread.
These panels absorb sound but they will not impact fire spread driven by vents, doors, gaps, cracks, and unblocked stud wall assemblies.
3) Blue board drywall
Also sold as plaster baseboard, blue board drywall serves a distinct purpose: It’s used for veneer plastering and manufactured to produce surfaces that have enhanced absorption qualities.
Because blue board engineered to outperform standard drywall, these panels have high-water and mold tolerances due to unique construction materials.
You can’t mud, tape or paint blue board, but it’s a solid option for homeowners who want to make sure mudrooms, attics, bathrooms and other places that are exposed to a lot of moisture on a continual basis stay dry. Blue board also helps reduce noise.
4) Moisture-resistant drywall (green board)
For areas of the home that are designed to accommodate a lot of moisture on a regular basis, green board remains a go-to option for builders who wish to make sure that interior walls are as protected as possible from leaks and water intrusions.
This type of drywall was originally used as a “direct back board” for ceramic tile in locations like showers and tubs. The term green board has been “retired” and replaced by cement backer boards like Durock, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as popular as ever.
5) Mold-resistant drywall
Editors posting on the Home and Garden TV website (HGTV) describe mold invasions as “all-you-can-eat buffets” for these organisms and while it takes a unique combination of circumstances to host these buffets – a water source, oxygen and organic material like the paper used to fabricate drywall – mold-resistant versions have hit the market.
This unique type of wall panel substitutes fiberglass mat for the paper facing so moisture can’t adhere to the board where it triggers that chain of infestation.
While some contractors pass off green board as a solution to preventing mold growth, only this specialized version of drywall is likely to do the best job for you.
6) Paperless drywall
Paperless drywall is a new niche and some consider it the latest and greatest way to finish interior walls without risking mold growth.
This product is made with gypsum, too, but instead of using paper as an outer wrapping, fiberglass is substituted.
If this sounds similar to the mold resistant drywall described above, you’re not imagining things. Used most often in areas likely to encourage mold growth, this material is manufactured specifically for rooms where water is a constant — like showers.
More expensive than traditional products, it’s wise to compare pricing on moisture-resist and mold-retardant products before you buy, especially since this drywall type is said to be more difficult to install and finish than other types.
7) Soundproofing drywall
Whether your objective is setting up rehearsal space for your kid’s band or the traffic noise outside is untenable, homeowners and builders may now opt for this drywall product.
Currently, the biggest name on the market is QuietRock, though two other companies (CertainTeed and National Gypsum) compete for market share.
QuietRock manufactures 7 types of soundproofing drywall, each graded and evaluated for its ability to block noise.
One is marketed as being mold-resistant; another as studio quality version and a third comes with a fire rating.
These panels are also fabricated of gypsum but patented technology polymer is the added material used to block the sound waves that cause the noise that keeps you awake at night.
8) Purple drywall
If you’re beginning to think that you wound up in a Disney movie because drywall is being made in so many colors, you can’t keep track of them, you’re not alone.
Purple drywall shares similarities (and is regularly compared to) green drywall, but purple is unique in that it not only resists moisture, mold and mildew, but if you’ve got rambunctious kids, it also stands up against scratches, dents, scuffs and other wall assaults.
You’ll spend around 30-percent more on purpose drywall, but if you’re worried about high-traffic areas, purple drywall may be a good investment to make.
9) Eco-friendly drywall
For homeowners who worry about Mother Earth, eco-friendly drywall is an ideal solution since gypsum is not used in the manufacturing process and toxic hydrogen sulfide gas won’t be generated by materials used to craft non-organic sheets.
A popular option uses compressed agricultural fibers (CAF) gleaned from post-harvest farming materials that is bonded with paper via nontoxic glue.
Another type of eco-friendly drywall uses reclaimed wood resurrected from abandoned barns and buildings.
Alternately, some manufacturers are recycling old gypsum drywall panel scraps into new sheets and others are using unusual materials like industrial waste, slag, furnace fly ash and fillers to fabricate this drywall type using energy-efficient production techniques.
If you’ve been using the words drywall and sheetrock interchangeably for more year than you care to remember, you’re not alone, says Bob Barocas whose Home Repair Ninja website serves up pertinent information on all things DIY.
“Sheetrock is a brand of drywall, not a different kind of building material. It’s like saying Clorox is a type of bleach,” he says.
The Sheetrock brand name was patented by the U.S. Gypsum Company, but like the folks who make Kleenex brand tissues, this company has given up on correcting people.
Ask for either when you shop and you’ll be taken to the exact same aisle in the store. How to differentiate them if you run into both? You may wind up paying more if you buy the branded version rather than a generic alternative.
How to choose the right drywall for your project
This Old House’s Bob Vila says his go-to thickness will always be ½-inch drywall of any type, unless you’ve got a specific goal in mind that requires extra thick sheets.
Performance preconditions include walls that will be subject to abuse as well as panels designed specifically to reduce fire burn time or mold development.
In these cases, he advises 5/8th-inch drywall that meets specific concerns.
Standard, paper-faced drywall panels are sold in standard sizes: 4- x 8-feet; 4- x 12-feet or 4- x 16-feet. Why the width commonality?
Because sheets are made to be installed uniformly from stud to stud with minimal trimming and cutting. If you must trim a sheet to get a proper fit, it’s easy to do so since these boards score and snap fairly easily using a utility knife.
If you must drill holes, a small rotary tool or a short keyhole saw should do the job efficiently.
Different Drywall Sizes and Dimensions
Though the three aforementioned sizes are most popular (4- x 8-feet; 4- x 12-feet or 4- x 16-feet), that doesn’t mean you can’t find other drywall panel lengths.
According to DIYers writing for TheSpruce.com, it’s possible to find sheets that measure 2- x 2-feet at home improvement and specialty hardware stores.
These are handy for patching or when dealing with small areas that don’t require full boards. You can also order custom drywall lengths from retailers if you’re willing to pay for it.
Different Drywall Panel Thicknesses
As a rule, you’ll have four thicknesses from which to choose when you shop for drywall: 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch.
Building codes tend to determine which is appropriate and while ¼-inch sheets are less common than the other two, it’s often preferred by contractors who make it a practice to double wall or who are confronted with curved surfaces that must be flexible enough to bend.
In this circumstance, it helps to dampen the 1/4-inch drywall section slightly in order to conform the section to the curved shape.
Half-inch drywall is standard for most jobs because it’s easy to hang on walls and ceilings and newer ultra-light ½-inch panels are beginning to appear on the market.
The thickest of bunch are preferred for fire-resistance ratings, building codes, unusually-spaced studs, joists that must be accommodated or in cases where ceilings are slated to be texturized.
How much does drywall weigh?
One of the reasons the building industry has introduced newer, ultra-light, ½-inch panels has to do with weight.
These ultra-light versions weigh 13 pounds less than standard ½-inch panels on the market. That stated, you can estimate around 1.6-pounds per square foot or 51.2 pounds per standard sheet.
If you intend to use 5/8-inch thick panels, you could wind up working with 70-pound sheets or possibly heavier weights.
Add in factors that necessary to fabricate drywall sheets designed to fight fires or moderate noise and you could easily run into 4- x 12-inch panels that tip the scales at 125 pounds!
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