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  • Writer's pictureDon Magruder

Drywall Type and Finishes Vary Per Application

Most homes in Central Florida have drywall finished walls unless your home is from the pre-1980s where builders would use paneling and interior wood finishes. Most homeowners understand very little about drywall and like most things in the construction industry, do not realize the type and finishes on drywall depend on the application. Far too many times, inexperienced drywall installers and do-it-yourself homeowners will use the wrong drywall or finish which can lead to disappointing results.

Most drywall used on the wall is a lightweight ½”x4x12 drywall board which is installed with drywall screws and then mudded, taped, and finished with some form of knockdown or smooth finish. For homes with 9-foot ceilings, 54-inch-wide drywall is becoming more popular as the number of joints and piercings are reduced. Typically, drywall is installed horizontally, and two 4-foot-wide pieces will cover a normal 8-foot-high interior wall. For smaller jobs, some will use a 4x8 piece of smaller drywall because it is much lighter in weight to handle. The most popular thicknesses are ½ inch and 5/8-inch thick with the 5/8 being used in fire resistant rock.

In applications where there are ceiling weight issues or spans, many contractors are using ceiling board because it is stiffer, lighter, and provides the sag resistance of normal 5/8-inch rock. Gravity can eventually make regular drywall sag over time, and 5/8-inch rock is harder to handle due to the weight. Ceiling board is very popular to prevent the sag caused by continuous gravity.

There are areas in many construction projects where the builder must install drywall which is fire or moisture resistant. Moisture resistant rock should be used in wetter or damper areas to prevent deterioration, and fire-resistant rock should be used where there is a chance for fire spread. A good place to use moisture resistant rock is in a bathroom, and fire-resistant rock is used in multiple unit connections or in areas separating a garage from the home. For direct areas around tubs, there are particular types of panels that have been developed to handle direct water behind tiles and tubs. Using the correct drywall or panels in these areas will prevent damage and mold.

Keep in mind, there are various types of drywall used for many applications such as exterior sheathing and soffit which can help make your home more weather protected. Discuss with your installer and explain you want maximum protection for your home’s structural components when picking the type of drywall.

The finishes of drywall differ in many ways. The levels of finish rate from 0 to 5. Finish 0 is no finish to the drywall, and finish 5 is for slick, high light surfaces where you do not want to see any taped joints or blemishes. Most homes are finished at level 4 for flat paints under normal light. Keep in mind, the higher the finish, the more it will cost.

Then there is the texture of the drywall which is put on after the mudding and taping of the drywall. Most older homes have an orange peel wall texture with a popcorn ceiling. Both finishes in Central Florida are not as popular. Popcorn finishes with leaky roofs can become a falling nightmare and orange peel finishes are very unforgivable if damaged. Most homes are being finished with a medium to heavier knockdown finish which hides blemishes much better and are easier to repair. There are a multitude of texturing options for drywall including skip trowel, sand, swirl, and brush finishes. What you choose will determine the look of your project, and you may have to search harder for skilled finishers for the more complicated finishes and levels.

When planning a project, take time to understand the board and textures to ensure you get the look of your home. For a better explanation of board, go the American Gypsum website and view their brochure, it has great information.

A bad drywall job will be a noticed every day you live in a home. Hiring the right drywall subcontractor and selecting the correct products and texture will make all the difference.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply, Inc., and he is also the host of the “Around the House” Show which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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