Drywall Types and Sizes
The wall surface found in most modern homes is a material called drywall, made of a thick layer of gypsum sandwiched between two layers of paper. The paper and gypsum work together, forming a strong building material. Drywall commonly comes in sheets that are 4 feet wide and 8 feet to 16 feet long and in four thicknesses -- 1/4 inch, 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, and 5/8 inch. The long edges of the sheets are tapered to help create a flat seam where two pieces join. The ends are left at full thickness.
The longer the pieces you use, the fewer end-to-end seams you'll have to tape and fill. This convenience comes at a price: The added length means added weight. Recruit a helper or two before you hang (attach) the drywall, and make sure it fits into the work area before you order a load of 16-foot pieces.
Most walls and ceilings are covered with 1/2-inch drywall. In cheaper construction, you'll occasionally find 3/8-inch. The thinner size also works well when covering old plaster walls to renew them. For top quality, 5/8-inch drywall is the way to go. It is stiffer than the thinner sheets, which makes for a flatter wall. It also has more sound-deadening qualities. Your local building code may require 5/8-inch drywall as fire protection in certain situations, such as a wall between an attached garage and the house. On ceilings, 5/8-inch drywall tends to sag less than thinner sheets, especially when attached to 24-inch on-center trusses.
To cover curved surfaces, use two layers of 1/4-inch drywall (3/8-inch will work if the curve isn't too severe).
Moisture-resistant (MR) drywall
(sometimes called greenboard because its paper facings have a greenish tint) is designed for damp locations such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. MR drywall is somewhat more flexible than regular drywall and tends to sag, especially when damp. It should not be used for ceilings unless the joists are spaced 12 inches on center.
Drywall is heavy and not very strong, particularly when it is unsupported. If you try to transport a stack propped up on a tailgate or otherwise wedged into a car or van, the bottom sheets may break. To avoid such trouble, place a couple of 2x4s underneath to add support. Another concern: The weight of a big stack may damage your vehicle. Make extra trips if necessary, or have it delivered.
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