Sheetrock VS Drywall [Solved]

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 12/09/21 •  10 min read

If you’re renovating or building a new home, and starting to plan out what materials you’ll need to buy, you may be wondering if there is a difference between Sheetrock and drywall and which one is better. After all, a small difference in price can add up to a lot when you consider how much you may need for your project. The cost of drywalling a new home or finished basement can be significant.

Sheetrock is made by the U.S. Gypsum Company (USG). While Augustine Sackett was original the inventor of drywall in 1894, soon after, in 1910 to be exact, USG purchased the Sackett Plaster Board Company and began making the first Sheetrock in 1916. (Source.)

Perfecting it and marketing it as the poor man’s answer to plaster walls, there’s no question that USG put drywall on the map.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences between Sheetrock and other brands of drywall. There certainly are, however, the differences are minuscule. You won’t find Sheetrock doing amazing things that drywall can’t.

Sheetrock does have a few chemicals—possibly completely inert—that separate it from what is considered unbranded drywall. But this is primarily for trademark and patent purposes.

Which Type Do Most Contractors Use?

Many contractors will use different brands of drywall based on price and availability, but some contractors and homeowners do prefer Sheetrock because it’s a brand name, the same way they may prefer Charmin over the grocery store brand of toilet paper even though both will do the job.

While most contractors understand that there’s no viable difference between Sheetrock and drywall, brand recognition has value. After all, there’s a reason the U.S. Gypsum Company is number one when it comes to drywall sales in the United States. That hasn’t changed since its inception.

Of course, whether you use drywall or Sheetrock, it’s not going to change your property value based on whichever you decide to go with. That’s primarily because drywall and Sheetrock share the same number of pros and cons, despite the brand recognition of Sheetrock.

What is Drywall and Sheetrock Made From?

Also sometimes called “gypsum board,” or “plasterboard” drywall, including Sheetrock, is made from a mixture of finely ground gypsum crystal and other fibers and additives sandwiched between two large sheets of paper or fiberglass.

The additional fibers and additives used differ brand by brand and by type of drywall (keep reading for more info on the different types to find the one you’ll need) but gypsum is the main ingredient.

Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral found in many countries but concentrated in North America. Gypsum can also be man-made. Synthetic gypsum, known as Flue-Gas Desulfurization (FGD) is used in drywall just like naturally occurring gypsum; however, some forms of FGD gypsum are toxic and therefore not used in drywall.

Types of Drywall and Sheetrock

Different renovation and construction projects have different needs, and drywall manufacturers do try to provide different products for every need you may have

There are about nine common types of drywall available to meet the unique needs of any given room in your home, which include:

Let’s take a closer look at each:

Mold-Resistant Drywall

Mold-resistant drywall is pretty self-explanatory as it resists mold growth, which it does by being moisture-resistant. One of the major vulnerabilities in drywall is its susceptibility to water, which in turn encourages the growth of mold.

Often called green board, moisture-resistant drywall is non-organic with fiberglass mesh. It’s useful to design drywall with non-organic material because it removes one of the two necessary ingredients for mold growth, which is food (the other is of course moisture).

You’ll often use mold-resistant drywall in kitchens, bathrooms, cellars, and anywhere else where moisture may be prevalent.

Plasterboard

Plasterboard is primarily an aesthetic type of drywall. It doesn’t do anything that typical drywall doesn’t do and is almost purely for the purposes of looks and looks alone. It’s made to give the impression that your walls were constructed of plaster.

In reality, the plaster is spread over regular drywall, dried, and cured, then cut to standard sheet size for distribution and sales. Also known as “blue board,” plasterboard is the answer for those who prefer the old-school look of lath and plaster.

Standard Drywall

Standard drywall is just that, the standard white board 1/2″ drywall that you’ll see piled high at your local hardware store for the lowest price.

Lightweight Panels

Lightweight drywall panels or “ultralight” panels under the Sheetrock branding are, as you would expect, lighter and therefore easier to transport and hang (particularly in difficult spots like on a ceiling).

Lightweight drywall hasn’t become the standard because they are sometimes more costly, have a consistency that takes some getting used to if you’re experienced with standard wallboard, and has a higher sound transmission. 

Soundproof Drywall

STC (Sound Transmission Class) is the standard of measurement for how much sound a material stops from passing through. Soundproof drywall is said to improve STC ratings by approximately 3–5 points over regular gypsum drywall, which can be significant when you’re trying to soundproof a room.

In order to facilitate a larger sound obstacle, drywall manufacturers increase gypsum, wood fibers, and polymers in the drywall materials.

Soundproof drywall can be much more difficult to work with than typical drywall because it’s far denser, which means that it’s also a lot heavier.

Side note: If you’re investing in soundproofing your walls, you may also want to rethink your typical drywall screws. These new spring-loaded soundproofing screws may be worth it.

VOC-Absorbing Drywall

VOC-absorbing drywall does for the local atmosphere in your home what a catalytic converter does for gasoline vehicles. VOC-absorbing drywall essentially traps fumes and other unwanted gases within the material of the drywall, effectively making them inert.

This is a relatively new type of drywall and it’s also incredibly effective. You can paint over it, and it will still remain 100% effective in absorbing harmful fumes for up to 75 years. Of course, this also means that it’s not cheap.

If you’re renovating a home, however, you can make special use of this type of drywall by using it in certain areas where chemicals may be kept, such as a painting studio, workshop, or even a cleaning closet.

Fire-Resistant Panels

Fire-resistant drywall (called Type X) is 5/8-inch thick and increases a wall’s fire rating to a minimum of 1 hour. Standard drywall, which is ½-inch drywall has a 30-minute rating. But it’s not just thickness that makes the difference. Type X drywall has a denser core and contains glass fibers that keep it from crumbling in the heat.

Type-X “fire code” drywall tends to run about 20 percent more expensive than conventional drywall panels. While this doesn’t seem like much, it can represent a substantial cost difference when multiplied across an entire home’s worth of drywall, which is why it’s not the standard.

Abuse-Resistant Panels

Abuse-resistant panels have an impact resistance that is five times higher than the standard Sheetrock or drywall panel. They also offer two types that fall under the category of abuse-resistant panels.

They accomplish this by embedding fiberglass mesh into the backside of the panel and increasing the overall density of the material. USG produces a very high-impact, abuse-resistant panel, and a more moderate version.

Cement Board

I’ve included cement boards in this list since often you’ll use them in a way similar to drywall, but in fact, they are not drywall at all.

Whereas drywall is a gypsum board or gypsum plaster pressed between paper, Cement board is just that — a board formed with a cement slurry that’s reinforced with fiberglass mesh.

Cement panels provide a stronger base on which to install tile and stone. Cement also resists direct moisture, making it a top choice for installation in areas of high humidity.

What is the Standard Drywall Thickness for Interior Walls?

All drywall brands to an industry standard when it comes to sizes and thickness, and conform to the same specs.

The standard drywall thickness for interior walls is 1/2″ thick sheets, which is available in standard weight or lightweight sheets.

Half-inch drywall is by far not your only option however, and for some projects, other thicknesses may serve you better.

Here’s a quick graphic showing you the standard lengths and widths available as well as the typical thicknesses and weights per square foot. Save this graphic and keep it handy before you try to load up that minivan or truck with your drywall purchase.

Click to enlarge

¼” Drywall

The thinnest drywall size, ¼”, is very fragile and can break easily. The upside is that these drywall sheets are very lightweight. This size of drywall is primarily for repair jobs or adding additional layers of drywall to existing walls.

⅜” Drywall

Similar to the ¼” drywall, ” sizes are used most often in renovation and remodeling projects. They’re also very useful for patching holes in existing sheetrock or as a cover for underlying materials.

½” Drywall

The ½” size drywall is your standard drywall thickness that covers most of your regular walls and ceilings in a residential home. Since this is the most common size of drywall, it is often available in the “lightweight version mentioned above.

It doesn’t matter what the framing material is, steel or wood, this will be your primary drywall specification.

¾” Drywall

The thickest drywall comes in ¾” size is primarily used in rooms that require a little bit of extra elbow grease in terms of strength and durability. You’ll find this size in load-bearing walls where extensive plumbing, electrical, or HVAC materials are located.

⅝” Drywall

⅝ inch drywall is one of the thickest on the market, just behind the ¾” specs. You’ll primarily find this in commercial construction where everything is required to be a little more beefed up and the specs are more complicated.

Does Sheetrock Cost More Than Generic Brand Drywall?

Generally, Sheetrock costs more than drywall but not by much. The reason is that Sheetrock brand is considered the “name-brand” product over other brands like CertainTeed brand.

Even other recognized brands of drywall like CertainTeed can find it difficult to compete with Sheetrock. Sheetrock is the prevalent word and therefore, it’s the slightly pricier word.

With that said, always check the price at the time of purchase, sometimes deals or supply issues change things drastically.

Breaking Down the Cost

A typical drywall sheet that is 4’ x 8’ will carry an average cost of about $12- $15. A standard Sheetrock panel of the same size will generally cost $20 – $22 per panel (varies by location and currency). That’s not even getting into the wide range of different drywall and Sheetrock types, thicknesses, and features.

Placing mass orders—or orders in bulk—is a good way to drive down the prices on both drywall and Sheetrock. Like any other bulk purchase, companies are always happy to provide you with the “more is better” approach, even Home Depot.

Speaking of Home Depot, they offer a drywall calculator to help you figure out how much drywall you’ll need, which you can find here.

thewriteDuffy

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. She has a diploma in journalism and a post-graduate diploma in book and magazine publishing.