As you consider your drywall project, the most important decision is choosing the right type and size material. Let’s answer these three questions:
- Drywall Types – What type of drywall should you use?
- Drywall Thickness – How thick should the drywall be?
- Drywall Length – How long should the sheets be?
Where the drywall is being installed is the key to what type of drywall you should use. Here are your drywall options along with a discussion of the common locations for each type. We have also provided you with an idea of price per type. A summary table can be seen below:
|Drywall Type / Sheet||Drywall Cost Per Sqaure Foot (Sq. Ft)|
|Standard 1/4||$0.24 to $0.32|
|Standard 3/8||$0.27 to $0.34|
|Standard 1/2||$0.30 to $0.37|
|Standard 5/8||$0.34 to $0.41|
|Moisture-Resistant||$0.40 to $0.48|
|Paperless||$0.45 to $0.70|
|Fire-Resistant||$0.34 to $0.42|
|Sound Control||$0.95 to $2.25|
A Guide to Standard Drywall
This material is made with crushed gypsum mixed with water and additional materials to provide strength. The mixture is spread in various thicknesses and allowed to dry. During the process, it is faced with paper and then cut into sheets four feet wide and up to 16 feet long. This product is called gypsum board, sheet rock, wallboard and similar names.
- Key features of standard drywall: This material is easy to cut, install and finish. Sheets four feet wide are available in a range of thicknesses and lengths, so it is very versatile.
- Where standard drywall is installed: This material is suitable for any location that does not require one of the specialty types listed below. In most homes, this means walls and ceilings in:
- Living rooms and other living spaces
- Kitchens, except on sink walls
- Pros and cons of standard drywall: On the plus side, it is easy to install and paint, affordable, fairly heat resistant and can last 40+ years. On the other hand, it doesn’t stand up well to moisture, and mold will grow on the paper facing if it gets wet.
Standard Drywall Prices
Sheets are 4 feet wide and come in lengths from 8 to 16 feet. In addition, thicknesses from 1/4″ to 5/8” are produced. Here are prices for standard drywall per square foot.
- Standard 1/4″: $0.24 to $0.32 per square foot
- Standard 3/8”: $0.27 to $0.34 per square foot
- Standard 1/2”: $0.30 to $0.37 per square foot
- Standard 5/8”: $0.34 to $0.41 per square foot
A Guide to Moisture-Resistant Drywall
This product is commonly called green board because the moisture-resistant face paper most manufacturers use is green. The green color is used to visually differentiate it from standard drywall.
- Key features of moisture-resistant drywall: The face paper is treated to be more resistant to moisture absorption than standard drywall.
- Where moisture-resistant drywall is installed: Keep in mind that it is resistant to moisture, but it is not waterproof, so it should not be used on a wall or behind tile that gets wet. It is made for damp, humid areas such as:
- Bathrooms (except for behind wet tile)
- Sink/Range walls of kitchens where high humidity is common
- Laundry rooms
- Throughout homes in very humid climates
- Pros and cons of green board drywall: This material is proven to resist absorbing moisture in humid locations. It comes in various lengths and is as easy to work with and finish as standard drywall. The cost over standard drywall is less than 25 percent. Just keep in mind that it is not designed for use behind wet areas such as tile showers. Moisture WILL transfer through the grout and damage the home’s structure. It will produce mold which is a health risk for people and pets.
Moisture-Resistant Drywall Prices
$0.40 to $0.48 per square foot
A Guide to Paperless Drywall
The name of this product might mislead you. It doesn’t mean that this type of drywall isn’t faced at all. Rather, paperless drywall is faced with a thin layer of fiberglass over the gypsum core. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that the fiberglass is waterproof, though it is more resistant to water than green board paper. Still, keep in mind that it is designed for humid areas but NOT for use on walls that get wet or behind tile or other materials that get wet.
- Key features of paperless drywall: The gypsum core is treated to resist moisture to assist the fiberglass facing in preventing water absorption and mold.
- Where paperless drywall is installed: It’s a good choice in very humid locations. Use it wherever you might otherwise use green board but want an extra measure of resistance to moisture and mold. Remember, it isn’t waterproof, so should not be used behind tile or other surfaces that will get wet. We emphasize this point because a common mistake made by contractors and homeowners is to install moisture-resistant drywall where waterproof cement board should be used.
- Bathrooms (except for behind wet tile)
- Sink/Range walls of kitchens
- Laundry rooms
- Location of a utility tub
- Throughout homes in very humid climates
- Pros and cons of paperless drywall: The greatest benefit is extra resistance to moisture. It comes in several sizes and is easy to cut and hang. As a disadvantage, the fiberglass mat finish is slightly textured and is more prone to be seen through paint that standard drywall paper. The texture might be visible when you stand close to the wall or when sunlight is shining directly on it. A technique for eliminating the texturing is to cover the entire surface with a thin coat of watery joint compound, sanding it lightly when it is dry. Another option is to have paperless drywall finished and painted by professionals for the best-looking results.
Paperless Drywall Prices
$0.45 to $0.70 per square foot.
A Guide to Fire-Resistant Drywall
Standard drywall is somewhat resistant to heat because gypsum doesn’t burn easily. It has a burn-through time of about 30 minutes in most house fires. As the name implies, fire-resistant drywall burns more slowly. Its nicknames in the industry include fire board and X-board.
- Key features of fire-resistant drywall: It can resist fire for about one hour for several reasons. The gypsum core is denser than standard drywall, it is embedded with fire-resistant glass fibers and it is always at least 5/8” thick.
- Where fire-rated drywall is installed: Building codes require fire-resistant drywall to be used where fires commonly start.
- Utility rooms where furnaces or boilers are located
- Between an attached garage and the house
- Pros and cons of fire-resistant drywall: The chief advantage is obvious – it slows the spread of fire. For this reason, some builders and homeowners hang it in laundry rooms and kitchens where gas appliances are in use. This product costs 10 to 20 percent more than standard drywall, so it’s not cost-prohibitive. However, it is not an affordable choice for the entire house because, to maximize its effectiveness, all interior doors would have to be fire-resistant and kept shut, and all holes in studs for wiring runs would have to be filled with fire-rated caulk. These factors would significantly raise costs and inconvenience.
Fire-resistant Drywall Prices
$0.34 to $0.42 per square foot.
A Guide to Sound-Control Drywall
Also called acoustical or soundproof drywall, this name represents a broad range of products.
- Key features of sound-control drywall: At the basic end of the product spectrum, 1/2″ drywall is faced with a thin sound-resistant barrier. At the complex end, acoustical drywall panels are several inches thick and include sound-deadening membranes sandwiched between drywall panels. The best products come with an STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating.
- Where acoustical drywall is used: Soundproof drywall is used in several locations.
- Home theaters
- Sound studios
- Practice rooms
- Anywhere sound control is important
- Pros and cons of sound-resistant drywall: The chief benefit is the prevention of sound transmission through walls. A few concerns are that thicker panels make the room slightly smaller and sound-proof drywall costs more than other types. The top products are quite expensive compared with standard drywall.
Sound-Control Drywall Prices
$0.95 to $2.25 per square foot.
Drywall is made in several thicknesses, each with specific uses.
1/4-inch: Ideal for use covering existing surfaces to create a smooth finish; It should not be used alone, as it offers little strength or stability.
3/8-inch: Once the most common size, 3/8” drywall is now mostly used to repair existing 3/8” panels or to cover existing walls to produce a clean, smooth surface; This thickness should not be used on ceilings because it is not sturdy enough to resist sagging.
1/2-inch: This is the most common size used; A few manufacturers produce a lighter-weight version of 1/2″ drywall to make it easier to install, though some strength is lost in the process.
5/8-inch: Thicker drywall is used in ceilings because it is more rigid and therefore less likely to sag; Drywall enhanced with fire-resistant chemicals or material used for sound-proofing a room is often made in this thickness;
To determine the right product for your project, talk to a remodeling expert at your local home improvement store or with a drywall contractor. You can also find more information in our thorough and helpful guides:
- Installing Drywall in Your Home – An Installation Prices Guide
- Repairing Damaged Drywall in Your Home – A Repair Cost Guide
Both include a breakdown of separate costs for the material and for the labor. You’ll also benefit from how-to advice, tool & material lists for doing it yourself, links to helpful sources and user-submitted prices that let you know what other readers are paying for drywall installation and repair.