Walls are traditionally obstacles that are hard to get over– unless they’re made of drywall. Drywall can be easily damaged; It can’t wet, and an angsty teen can punch through it with surprisingly little effort. Not to mention damages from furniture, failed picture hanging attempts, and bubbling and mold from moisture. If the walls of our homes are supposed to protect us, why do we use such weak materials in their construction?
Drywall is weak because it is composed of a gypsum core between two layers of cellulose. These materials keep the drywall light, cheap, and less flammable than other materials. Drywall is not designed to support the structure of the wall, but to finish them, provide insulation, and block sound.
The more you know about the home and its materials, the better you can take care of your home and solve problems that arise!
What’s Drywall Made Of?
Drywall is 90 percent gypsum, a soft mineral calcium sulfate, which is also the main component of sidewalk chalk and plaster of Paris. Gypsum has been used as a building material for thousands of years and its use can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt.
Though there are different kinds of drywall with different functions, gypsum almost always makes up most of the panels. Gypsum boards are sandwiched between two layers of thick paper, which provides structure to the gypsum board while keeping it lightweight and easy to use.
Drywall isn’t amazingly strong, but it’s not designed to be. Drywall hangs on a skeleton made of metal or wood, leaving a hollow interior for insulation and electrical wiring. This hollow, enclosed space also helps to soundproof rooms. These panels work together to create a smooth, consistent surface that can be mudded over and easily finished while keeping costs low.
Because drywall is so cheap, versatile, and quick to set up, it is preferred by many builders. A small team can put drywall up in an entire house in less than a week.
Not all drywall types are created equal… some are designed to provide extra features and durability, and some of these are required for certain parts of the house to keep it up to code.
These kinds of drywall will typically be more expensive than standard drywall and won’t miraculously solve the problems they are designed to resist, but utilizing them can help your walls last longer and stronger.
Standard drywall is the most basic kind of drywall and works well for walls and ceilings that aren’t going to be exposed to a lot of daily moisture. It’s the cheapest kind and comes in several thicknesses.
This type of drywall, also known as type X drywall, has a denser gypsum core and has strands of fiberglass running through it. This does not make it fireproof, but it is more successful at blocking heat and burns slower than other kinds of drywall. In an emergency, this could be the difference between life and death!
Mold And Moisture Resistant
Even though it’s more expensive and not guaranteed to prevent mold growth, mold-resistant drywall will help deter it and will hold up better in moisture-heavy rooms such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens.
Mold-resistant drywall has a less absorbent gypsum core and sometimes is coated with a fiberglass mesh instead of paper. If you live in a dry area where mold and mildew don’t grow as easily, this one probably won’t be worth it to you.
Moisture-resistant drywall, also known as green board, is similar to mold-resistant drywall, but the paper layers are treated with wax. This does not make them waterproof, but they will hold up well in damp areas and humid climates.
Soundproof drywall is better than standard drywall for creating better acoustics between rooms and within the rooms themselves. Similar effects can be achieved by putting two layers of 5/8 standard drywall on top of each other with a sound-resistant vinyl between them.
While soundproof drywall is more expensive than other kinds of drywall, hanging one layer of it will be easier to put up, repair, and save you room space.
Pros and Cons Of Drywall
The cheapness of drywall is one of its biggest selling points. One panel of standard drywall can cost less than 15 dollars. Cheap but functional building materials allow builders to build more buildings for less money.
- Easy To Replace
Hanging a new sheet of drywall takes as little effort as cutting into the wall, unscrewing the studs, removing, and replacing.
- Easy To Cut And Manipulate
It doesn’t take much effort to cleanly cut drywall into the shapes needed to fit around doors, windows, and baseboards. Anyone with the right tools can do it!
Drywall is much lighter than wood, plaster, and stone, which adds to its ease of handling and versatility.
- Less Flammable Design
While drywall cannot prevent a fire from spreading, it can slow it down significantly when compared to wood. 5/8 X-type drywall can take an hour to burn through, which is double the time it takes for standard 1/2 inch drywall.
- Easy Repair
When compared to its plaster counterpart, it takes a very short amount of time to repair minor damages in drywall. Holes, cracks, and exposed paper are all one-day jobs as long as you have the right materials.
- Weak And Easily Damaged
These walls aren’t going to last forever. They’re going to be dinked and dented and even punched through by the act of daily life.
- Can’t Get Wet
Because drywall is composed of paper and gypsum, wet, non-protected drywall will turn to mush.
- Can’t Bear Weight
You need special tools and mounts to hang pictures and shelves on drywall, and can only do so around wall studs.
- Takes Work To Finish
While it’s faster to hang and finish than other kinds of walls, drywall still takes extra work to make it finished and aesthetically pleasing.
- Dust, fungus, mold,
Damp drywall can be a hotbed for mold and fungus, which can be very dangerous and give people diseases. This is more common if you live in a humid climate.
Whether or not drywall is right for you is entirely up to you, your budget, and your needs as a homeowner. However, one thing can be sure– drywall isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and has helped millions of people build safe, secure homes for less.