Lightweight Drywall vs Regular Drywall

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 07/07/24 •  4 min read

If you’re new to home improvement in general (as I was not too long ago) you don’t put too much thought into drywall until you actually need to purchase some for a project. I was surprised to learn there were so many different kinds, though thinking about it now, it makes total sense.

In this article I’ll compare the two main types of drywall you may be considering ⁠— “regular” drywall and lightweight drywall.

What Is the Difference Between Lightweight and Standard Drywall

The main difference between “regular” drywall and lightweight drywall is of course the weight. Regular 1/2-inch thick drywall that’s 4 x 8 feet in length weighs about 57 to 60 pounds depending on the brand, whereas a lightweight panel of the same size and thickness only weighs between 41 and 44 pounds. 

That’s a huge difference, especially when you’re lifting them up all day!

The weight advantage of lightweight panels is evem more remarkable with thicker panels. Here’s a quick chart to show you some size and weight differences:

Drywall-Thickness-and-Approximate-Weights

While it’s not clear exactly how drywall makers now make drywall lighter, since they keep their recipies pretty close to the chest and refuse to make them public, the running theory I’ve heard is that it’s done by infusing the gypsum compound (the stuff in between the two layers of paper of the drywall) with air. But I could be wrong.

What is UltraLight Drywall?

I’ve written a whole post explaining the difference between Sheetrock brand and generic drywall, which you can read here. But the spoiler is, it’s mostly branding.

Now, you’re probibly wondering what this has to do with the topic at hand, which is what is UltraLight drywall? Well, UltraLight® drywall is just the trademark UGC (the makers of the Sheetrock brand drywall) have given to their lightweight drywall. Sheetrock UltraLight® drywall may or may not be better than other brands lightweight drywall, but it has fantastic brand recognition.

To give you a comparison, you can think of UltraLight® drywall like the Diet Coke of lightweight drywall. Diet Coke may the same basic recipe as your local generic diet cola but without the customer recognition of the Coke brand.

This makes sense because the United States Gypsum Corporation (USG) was the first to develop lightweight drywall and branded it Sheetrock UltraLight® at the same time. Other gypsum board producers eventually created their own lightweight drywall products but the bandwagon was already travelling when they jumped on.

What Is Lightweight Drywall Used For?

Lightweight drywall can be used Use on any walls and ceilings where codes do not require fire-rated material and where you don’t require mold or moisture protection, like in a bathroom or laundry room (though drywall makers like Sheetrock are starting to make mold-resistant, lightweight drywall).

Lightweight drywall is particularly fantastic for drywalling ceilings, not only because being lighter means it’s easier to lift up (meaning fewer injuries and faster instillation) but it also reduces the chances of your drywall panels sagging, and reduces the stress on your ceiling timbers.

The Pros and Cons of Lightweight Drywall

Pros

  • Less weight means less injuries caused by lifting heavy boards
  • Lighter boards mean easier and faster instillation both because of lifting and because they are easier to score and snap to different shapes and sizes
  • Lower shipping weights mean lower costs and homeowners have an easier time bringing some home for projects
  • Less likely to sag when hung on ceilings
  • Being lighter it will put less stress on your ceiling timbers
  • More enviromentally friendly

Cons

  • Increased sound leakage through the drywall
  • Lighter drywall is a bit more brittle and prone to breakage, especially at the edges
  • Lower fire rating
  • Lightweight drywall has a higher cost

Where Do You Get Lightweight Drywall?

The answer to this question may depend on where you live and what your local hardware retailer carries, but I can tell you that in my Home Depot, it’s pretty much all lightweight drywall in the drywall isle now.

Final Thoughts

All in all, lightweight (or UltraLight®) drywall is a fantastic innovation and the slight increase in cost is well worth it when you consider all that you gain from the reduced weight. As long as your room doesn’t require soundproofing, a high fire rating, or moisture resistance, lightweight drywall is likely the best choice for you.

thewriteDuffy

At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.