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Types of Drywall

Gypsum Board for Remodeling and New Construction

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Drywall Finishing Tools

Drywall (gypsum board) revolutionized residential and commercial construction by eliminating lathe and plaster walls and ceilings. There are several types including lightweight, acoustic, green board, etc.

You’ve probably heard the terms drywall and Sheetrock being used interchangeably, but this is not correct. Drywall is the generic term while Sheetrock® is a brand name of drywall. This is similar to people referring to all soft drinks as "Coke" or all vacuums "Hoovers".

Prior to the invention of this building material, interior walls as well as ceilings were typically constructed with lathe and plaster. Lathe is either wood strips or metal screen mesh sheet material.

Either way, it is secured to the studs or ceiling joists. The initial coat of plaster, called the scratch coat is primarily to grip the lathe for a strong bond. This first coat is followed by one or more finishing coats.

Drywall was invented around 1915. Like many innovations, it was rather slow to become popular, but the amount of money saved on installation labor and subsequent repairs did the trick and the most skeptical construction Luddites were convinced.

The rest, as they say is history, and there are now a diverse range of drywall varieties designed to suit many building and construction requirements. Let’s have a look at some of them.

Common Varieties of Gypsum Wallboard

  • Conventional drywall — This is the type you see most often. The most common sizes are 4’ X 8’, 4’ X 10’, and 4’ X 12’. Most home building codes require 1/2” thickness while commercial jobs require 5/8”.

    Most home improvement stores also stock thinner sheets like 1/4”. This is used for building things like arched case openings. Sheetrocker hangers soak the sheets liberally with a sponge and water until it is flexible enough to be bent into an arched shape without breaking either the gypsum or the paper.

  • Greenboard — As the name implies, the finish side is green. These sheets are designed to be moisture-resistant and were historically used as ceramic tile backing in bath shower enclosures. But today fiber cement backer board is more common and increasingly required by the code.

    The color doesn’t make it moisture resistant; it is just that way to make it easy to distinguish visually from regular drywall.

  • EcoRock drywall substitute — EcoRock recently entered the marketplace as a direct result of the green, sustainable building trend. It is mainly composed of various waste materials such as fly ash, slag, kiln dust, and fillers instead of gypsum.

    The manufacturer says that it costs 80% less to manufacture as compared to traditional gypsum products. The drawback? It costs about twice as much. It’s not easy being green, as Frank Sinatra would say.

  • Sheetrock® brand UltraLight Panels — These sheets are a blessing for hanging ceilings (called hanging lids in the trade) because of its light-weight properties. This product is 30% lighter than regular Sheetrock® and the paper facing is 100% recycled.

  • QuietRock® — This is Noise-reducing acoustical drywall. Although there are other brands, this is the best known product in this category. Where might this come in handy?

    Media rooms, home theaters, and recording studios come immediately to mind. For remodeling purposes, it can be installed directly over the existing wall.

These are just some some of the common choices available when it’s time for a remodel or new construction. Knowing your options is key whether you decide to hire a contractor to do the job or choose to install gypsum board drywall yourself.

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