The Joy of Drywall

The Joy of DrywallDrywall (also known as gypsum board) is the name for a family of panel products consisting of a noncombustible core—primarily of gypsum—with a paper surfacing on the face, back and long edges.

The popularity of gypsum wallboard results from a number of factors. It takes virtually any decoration, from paint or textures to vinyl and paper laminates. It also lends itself to creative shaping of interior surfaces, allowing the maximum in design flexibility. Gypsum wallboard is an economical alternative to other products, and an improvement over the complicated old process of plastering. Gypsum board is lightweight and easy to install, and if necessary can be repaired quickly. It is good for fire resistance and sound control. These factors explain why drywall is the most commonly chosen material for homes built today.

The average homeowner with a working knowledge can do drywall repairs. Yet, I have seen many substitutes used for drywall backing such as soda cans and crumpled newspapers—to name a few. If a hole is too big to be filled with spackle paste, then a drywall patch should be used. It may include a wood joiner screwed behind the existing wall and patch to secure the patch to the wall. Proper drywall tape or mesh should be applied in thin coats and blended into the existing wall surface. The patch should not be visible when work is completed.

There are different thicknesses of drywall for different applications. Usually 1/2” drywall is used on all walls and ceilings, except where 5/8” fire code material is required. In the kitchen and bathroom areas a moisture resistant drywall or “purple board” is typically used, which holds up against long-term, continued water exposure and trapped moisture—which can lead to dangerous mold. Purple board has evolved as the improved version of the older green board.

Drywall can be installed by using special drywall nails, but Image Home Improvement’s installers strictly use drywall screws. This is because over time drywall nails, especially on the ceiling, can lose their grip and appear “popped.” Next is taping, and then a texture such as “orange peel,” “knock down” or “skip trowel” is the final step to prepare the drywall for paint.

A growing trend nowadays is to have those old “popcorn” ceiling textures removed and replaced with a more contemporary, smooth surface. This is usually matched to the wall surface texture. The unskilled homeowner should not attempt this project, which is very messy and may require additional restoration work to achieve a seamless finish.

Having your wall and ceiling surfaces installed and finished properly will give you many years of wear and beauty.