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What Kind of Drywall Should I Use?

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There are now a bunch of different varieties of drywall. This page will provide a summary of each type and where it is applicable to use.

Standard 1/2" Drywall
This drywall is generally the least expensive and it is what you will want to use on the majority of your projects. Generally, it is designed to be fastened to studs that are 16" to 24" apart on on wall studs and ceiling studs that are no more than 16" apart. For repairs, you may use this on the existing studs at whatever spacing is present. For new construction, you should adhere to your local building codes. Generally, it is not a good idea to use this product on ceiling studs that are 24" apart (or more) since it will sag. Instead, use 5/8" standard drywall or 1/2" sag-resistant drywall, as specified by code.

Standard 5/8" Drywall
This has often been used on ceilings. The panels are 25% heavier, however. A better choice would be to use sag resistant drywall if acceptable to local codes.

Standard 3/8" Drywall
This product is used primarily for repairs of walls in older homes where 3/8" drywall was used. I have used this many times to repair holes. As you would guess it is much flimsier. If you have extensive repairs to do on 3/8" walls (like fixing a wall after wallpaper is removed), I would recommend removing the 3/8" product and replacing with 1/2".

Standard 1/4" Drywall
This product is used for arches - it will bend easier than the thicker drywall. Generally it is never used for any other applications. We used this product in my father-in-law's arch project.

Sag-resistant 1/2" Drywall
This product sags less than even 5/8" drywall without the extra weight. It is thus preferable to 5/8" standard drywall. We used this product when installing drywall on my father-in-law's ceilings - it was much easier to handle than the heavy 5/8" sheets! This slightly more expensive product is not needed for walls - use the standard 1/2" drywall for walls.

Mold-resistant 1/2" Drywall
This product will resist moisture and mold better than standard drywall and is a preferred choice for bathrooms where there is high humidity. This is the product I used in a project where I remedied a mold problem in our bathroom, primed and painted with a mold-resistant paint and primer. Note that contrary to what some believe, this product is not water proof - if water is constantly splashed on it, it will break down. For areas that are constantly wet, tile should be used, applied over a cement tile backer-board.

Paperless Drywall
This relatively new product offers moisture resistance and dent resistance superior to nearly any other type of drywall. One drawback of this product that I have heard discussed is its rough texture. Also it is more costly. If you use this product, wear full sleeves and long pants - it has an irritating effect on your skin if rubbed against.

Follow Your Local Codes!
As a rule of thumb, you can make repairs to existing drywall using the same product that was originally installed. On new installations, however, it is important to follow your local building codes. These codes vary greatly so it is near impossible to summarize all of that information here.

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