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Types of Wallboard (and Their Differences)

Updated
It is crucial for building code compliance to know the different types of sheetrock, and when and where to use them.

There are several varieties of drywall, but what is the difference between each type? Knowing the different types of sheetrock is crucial, especially as some building codes dictate which panels to use.

We examine the choices available and when and where to use them, plus different drywall anchors.

Drywall Types Explained

Drywall comes in standard sizes and thicknesses, as well as several different types. The most common thickness is 1/2-inch sheets, but other depths include 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, 5/8-inch, and 3/4-inch. Blue board, green board, and purple board drywall are best used in damp locations like bathrooms and kitchens, while Type X is suitable for high-heat areas, thanks to its fire-resistant qualities.


Sheetrock Vs. Drywall

Drywall is a material used to construct internal walls in domestic and commercial buildings. In its basic form, it consists of a gypsum core (pre-hardened plaster of Paris) wrapped in paper sheets.

Gypsum is a naturally-occurring material, so it is in plentiful supply and entirely safe for the environment.

Sheetrock is a brand of drywall, while drywall is the generic term used to describe all types of wall panels. Drywall is also called wallboard, gypsum board, plasterboard, gyp board, buster board, custard board, and gypsum panels.

Different Types of Drywall

Installing drywall in kitchens and bathrooms requires a different product than standard sheetrock. With several types of wallboard available, how do you choose the one that’s right for your construction project? Let’s run through your options.

Regular Drywall or White Board

Whiteboard is the most common drywall and probably the best budget option. It has a white and a brown side and comes in thicknesses ranging from 3/8 inches to 3/4 inches.

Drywall comes in several panel sizes, but the most popular is 4×8 ft. You can also get 4×12 ft and 4×16 ft boards, but they are more suitable for commercial building projects.

Mold or Moisture-Resistant Drywall

When installing drywall in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms, you will need plasterboard that copes with moisture. Humidity penetrates standard wallboard, breaking down the gypsum core and rotting the outer paper layer.

Most anti-mold and moisture drywall follow a color code to make them easier to recognize.

Green Board Drywall

Green board drywall has a green outer layer that resists moisture. It is also known as moisture-resistant drywall. While it withstands moisture, it is not waterproof, so it has limited use in kitchens and bathrooms.

Take Note

You should not use it in areas with direct contact with water, such as sinks and bathtubs. You can use it as a tile backer as long as the tiles are sealed and no water soaks through.

Purple Drywall

Purple drywall steps it up a gear and offers water and mold resistance. It can be used for walls, ceilings, and rooms where direct moisture contact is likely. It gets its name from the purple coating around the gypsum inner core (you guessed that, right?).

Blue Board Drywall

Blue board is essentially a plaster baseboard that is ideal for use in moisture-rich areas such as backing for tiles and other finishes. It has mold-resistant qualities, like purple drywall, making it the go-to wallboard for kitchens and bathrooms.

Good To Know

Because it is a baseboard, blue board is not suitable for painting and using joint tape or mud, but it does have sound-reducing capabilities.

Paperless Drywall

Paperless drywall has a layer of fiberglass to replace the standard paper coating. It protects the gypsum core and offers maximum moisture and mold resistance. However, the fiberglass outer layer compromises the smoothness of the finish.

To achieve a super smooth finish, you will need a joint compound, like this Dap Wallboard Ready-Mixed Compound.

Fire-Resistant Drywall

Mold and moisture are not the only dangers facing your new drywall. Fire is a considerable risk, especially in kitchens where heat and cooking facilities increase the chances.

Luckily, there is a drywall variety that ticks that box.

Type X Drywall

Type X drywall is commonly used in garages and apartment blocks because it meets building code requirements for fire resistance. You can increase the performance of the drywall by layering up to increase the thickness.

Type X consists of a glass fiber non-combustible core and typically comes in 5/8-inch thicknesses. It also improves soundproofing, making it the perfect board for dividing walls.

To gain Type X status, 5/8-inch wallboard must withstand fire for one hour and three-quarters of an hour for a 1/2-inch board.

Type C Drywall

Type C drywall is the new and improved version of Type X. If this was the Marvel Universe, it would be the Type X reboot! Type C drywall has even more glass fibers in the core, which improves its fire rating.

Type C is available in 5/8 and 1/2-inch thicknesses and is typically used in high-risk areas like commercial kitchens.

Soundproof Drywall

Soundproof drywall is constructed from gypsum, wood fibers, and polymers to reduce sound transmission. This type of drywall is dense, making it harder to cut and shape than standard drywall sheets.

Soundproofing is used for dividing walls between apartments and is particularly useful in recording studios and other places where noise pollution is a factor.

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VOC-Absorbing Drywall

Volatile organic compounds are everywhere, from building materials to the cleaning detergents we use daily. VOC-absorbing drywall traps these VOCs to neutralize them.

The panels work even when painted, and they keep working for up to 75 years.

Eco-Friendly Drywall

Eco-friendly drywall is growing in popularity. While standard sheetrock is non-hazardous to the environment, the production process uses enormous energy. Eco drywall reduces the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process.

As pressure grows for greener alternatives, you should see the price of eco-drywall begin to fall. Right now, it is an expensive alternative to other drywall types.

Flexible Drywall

Flexible drywall panels are designed for use in curved walls and archways. The advantage is that it provides a smoother surface than other drywall types because it is flexible. It typically comes in 1/4-inch thickness and is usually double-layered for structural integrity.

It also minimizes cutting and shaping, saving you money in joint tape and compound.

Foil-Backed Drywall

Foil-backed wallboard is the same as standard drywall in all other ways, except it has a foil backing that repels moisture and increases insulation.

It also increases fire resistance, making it perfect for high-heat areas like commercial kitchens and manufacturing facilities.

Drywall Thickness and Sheet Sizes

Sheetrock comes in standardized dimensions and thicknesses to make it easier to find the appropriate drywall and reduce wastage. Let’s take a look at the different size and thickness options.

Drywall Thickness

The stack of gypsum board preparing for construction

When it comes to the thickness of your chosen wallboard, you have options. Some are used for smoothing textured surfaces, while others add structural integrity.

1/4-Inch

Quarter-inch drywall is commonly used to smooth textured surfaces. It has no structural integrity, so think twice before hanging it on your ceiling. The weight of gravity will cause it to sag.

Thinner drywall sheets are also notoriously challenging to carry because they are so brittle.

When maneuvering panels into position, you may need assistance to stop them from flexing and snapping in two.

You can double-layer 1/4-inch boards to increase rigidity, but it is pointless when you can use one sheet of 1/2-inch plasterboard instead. However, 1/4-inch drywall is perfect for molding around bends.

3/8-Inch

This drywall depth is typically used to overlay another wallboard sheet and patch holes. It lacks the structural rigidity of thicker sheets, and it offers limited insulation qualities.

1/2-Inch

Half-inch sheetrock is suitable for almost any building project. It has the correct thickness to make it stable, so it is suitable for walls and ceilings. It is popular because it suits so many different applications.

You can even manipulate this sheetrock to tackle curved walls and arches, and it is relatively easy to carry.

5/8-Inch

When you want fire resistance and soundproofing in one, this is the size of drywall to use. It is sometimes called Type X wallboard because it can withstand fire for one hour. It is suitable for ceilings and walls, as well as patch repairs.

3/4-Inch

Three-quarter-inch drywall is commonly used in partition walls to improve soundproofing. You will struggle to get this drywall thickness from your local hardware store. It is available at specialist retailers.

Drywall Size

Standardizing drywall size makes it easier to estimate how many sheets you need to complete your project. Multiply the length by the width, and you have the square footage. You can then divide the square footage of a single panel to determine the amount you need.

Here’s a handy size chart:

Drywall Panel Size (Feet) Best Uses
4×8 Residential properties and commercial settings.
4×12 Tall walls, commercial buildings.
4×16 Industrial and commercial settings.
2×2 Patch repairs.

Types of Drywall Finishes

Not content with a super smooth finish on your new drywall? Then you might want to consider texturing the surface to make it more interesting. We give you some pointers on the most popular drywall finishes.

Skip Trowel

Skip trowel involves adding sand to the joint compound to create a light textured surface. It is the perfect treatment if you want to hide minor imperfections, and it is a particular favorite for ceilings.

Knockdown

Knockdown is also called stucco. It involves adding cement or fine sand to create a bumpy texture that makes interesting patterns. It is also ideal for masking imperfections.

There are different types of knockdown, including drywall, California, and slap brush.

Orange Peel

gray wall texture. plaster orange peel on the wall

While some people see orange peel as an imperfection in painted surfaces, others seek to apply it to their new walls. It is typically sprayed on, and as the paint dries, it takes on the texture of (you guessed it) orange peel.

Lace

Start by patting a loaded brush onto the drywall. When the texture starts to dry, break up the raised stipples to create a lace effect. You may need to apply two coats of paint to create this effect.

Types of Drywall Anchors

We’ve discussed the merits of different types of drywall, but what about the anchors that hold objects to your wall surfaces?

Expansion Anchors

Expansion anchors are ideal for hanging pictures and other lightweight objects on your wall. They work by expanding as you twist the screw to lock it into place. You have to drill a hole in the drywall to insert the anchor.

Expansion anchors are among the most common wallboard fixings because they are easy to use, simple to install and hold up to 15 pounds in weight.

Self-Drilling Anchor

Threaded anchors are also popular because they are super secure once embedded in the drywall. The anchor looks like a small screw, but there is an opening where the screw goes. It expands the anchor as you insert the screw, locking it in the wall.

Threaded anchors are made of sturdy material designed to hold weights up to 50 pounds. So, if you are hanging a curtain rod, these are the anchors to use.

The only downside with self-drilling anchors is that they leave oversized holes in your lovely new drywall.

Ribbed Anchor

Ribbed or ridged anchors are the most straightforward design. The anchor expands when you drive in the screw, gripping the wall. Typically, they are made of plastic and are very cheap to buy, making them a great budget option.

Steel Hollow Wall Anchors

If you consider wall-mounting your new TV, steel hollow wall anchors are the best choice. They hold weights above 50 pounds, and they are made of sturdy materials for heavy-duty applications.

As the screw turns, the anchor sides expand, locking the anchor behind the drywall.

Drywall Screws

Drywall screws are suitable for hanging light items like pictures. Anything heavier will force the screw to drop out of the wall.

Drywall screws have a wider thread that follows the entire length of the shaft. It means that the screw can fully insert without causing any damage to the gypsum core.

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Drywall Nails

Drywall nails might be ideal for mounting sheetrock on wooden wall studs, but when it comes to hanging things from your wall, they can only handle light duties.

FAQs

What Drywall Should You Use In a Bathroom?

You should use the blue, purple, or green board for high-moisture areas. They have mold and moisture repelling properties that protect the drywall from dampness.

What Drywall Should You Use In a Garage?

Building codes dictate that fire and water-resistant drywall clad the inside of your garage. Type X, C, green, blue, and purple boards are perfect candidates. Also, paperless wallboard is suitable.

What is the Difference Between Sheetrock and Plasterboard?

The simple answer is that there is no real difference. Sheetrock is a brand of drywall, and plasterboard is another name for drywall.

Is It Cheaper to Drywall or Plaster?

Drywall is a lot cheaper than plastering. It is cheaper, faster, and more convenient. Plastering requires a professional with years of experience and skill, costing so much more.


And Finally

Learning about the different types of gypsum means that you better understand what each variety does and when to use them. Keep one eye on the building codes because you need to know when to use moisture-resistant and fireproof drywall.

Once you understand the different varieties, you can confidently proceed with your drywall project.

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Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.