If you’ve ever been in a conversation with another person about house renovations and remodeling, the chances are that you’ve heard them use “drywall” and “sheetrock” interchangeably.
If you, like me, have been confused at some point why people keep using different words for the same thing, you’ve come to the right place.
First of all, let’s clarify—drywall and sheetrock are VERY similar…but technically they are not the same.
For the same reason, you wouldn’t call any regular soda pop as Coca Cola™ (i.e. “coke”).
Similarly, Sheetrock™ is a registered trademark product of the U.S. Gypsum company and is a well-known brand of drywall that has become almost synonymous with “drywall.”
Now that I’ve got that out of the way let us get more into the details—history, applications, pros, cons—so you can make an informed decision the next time you’re renovating your interiors or exteriors.
History of Sheetrock
Way back in the 1890s, an innovative new construction product called Sackett Board was invented by Augustine Sackett.
The product was new wallboard made of multiple layers of plaster and paper.
The product was patented in 1894 and was quite popular amongst builders.
A few years later, in 1902, to be precise, 30 independent gypsum and plaster companies joined hands to form the US Gypsum Company, which in today’s time is the country’s largest distributor of wallboard.
USG Company took the next step towards its continued expansion by purchasing the Sackett Plaster Board Company in 1909.
By 1916, the Sackett Board was widely used and evolved using a new manufacturing method.
The innovative new wallboard was produced with a single layer of plaster and paper joined directly as a finished surface.
This product was originally named the Adamant Panel Board before a sales employee of the company suggested the name “Sheetrock,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
So now that we know the history behind this product that has become a second (or maybe first) word for drywall let us look at how it differs from other drywall products.
Sheetrock vs. Drywall
As I said before, Sheetrock™ is a registered brand of the US Gypsum Company that has become synonymous with drywall due to its popularity and wide usage—the company is the single largest manufacturer of gypsum products in North America.
There is very little difference between the two when it comes to usage. Drywall is used to make interior walls and ceilings.
It will absorb moisture and hold up poorly against rain and insect damage.
In contrast, Sheetrock™ can be used for interiors and exterior construction projects.
There is a difference in the formula used to produce different types of drywall. Typical drywall, for instance, might have sulfur, whereas Sheetrock™ will not.
Check for a GCC certificate (General Certificate of Conformity) if you’re unsure. Learn more about acceptable sulfur quantities in drywall here.
Chemicals used to make the two will differ as well—you might find sulfates like potassium or sodium, different chelating agents, X or C-type fiberglass, etc.
When it comes to using state-of-the-art technology in the manufacturing process and industry-level quality control testing,
Sheetrock™ is miles ahead of generic drywall brands.
Yes, every drywall brand differs in quality, price, and longevity.
Since Sheetrock™ has been a leader in this industry for decades, it is easier to trust it over any other generic brand.
Types of Sheetrock
Sheetrock™ is quite a versatile construction product—its varieties are generally distinguished by color, size, and application.
Here’s a closer look at what you can expect.
Regular Drywall or White Board
The most common type of drywall is the regular (duh!) drywall, also known as a white board.
It is used during the construction of walls and ceilings in commercial spaces and homes.
This is the drywall that most people are familiar with. It has gypsum at its core, placed between two layers of paper.
It is generally brown at the back and white (or sometimes gray) on the front.
It is also the most economical out of all the different types of drywall available in the market.
Moisture-Resistant Drywall or Green Board
Moisture is inevitable, especially in areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
And since drywall doesn’t stand up well in high moisture areas, it needs a special coating to increase resistance.
Moisture-resistant drywall comes with a special coating that gives it a green shade. This coating makes it resistant to moisture.
As you would expect, the features don’t come for free, and it is a bit more expensive than regular drywall.
Note that even though it’s moisture-resistant, it is not water-resistant.
Plasterboard or Blue Board Drywall
If you’re in search of drywall that gives you more control over the wall finish and a shorter mounting and installation wait period, then you need a blue board.
Also known as plasterboard, it uses a blue sheet that helps plaster adhere.
The front surface of a blue board has special absorption qualities, and it has high water and mold resistance.
It’s perfect to use in bathrooms and places where you’d expect a lot of moisture.
Mold-Resistance Drywall or Purple Drywall
This drywall gets its name (and color!) from a special treatment process that gives it superior moisture, mold, and mildew resistance.
It’s a great options for moisture rich areas such as the kitchen, bathrooms and basements.
Purple drywall can be used in both wall and ceiling applications and is particularly useful in spaces that can be easily affected by moisture and mold.
It is more expensive than the regular drywall, but it helps you prevent future repair costs.
This is a specially made drywall, usually installed in places like the basement, kitchens, or garages where the chances of a fire are higher.
It contains fiberglass, which is imperative in slowing the spread of fire, thus giving people time to escape.
There are primarily two kinds of fire-resistant drywall: Type X and Type C.
While both are thicker than regular drywall, Type X provides up to an hour of protection from fire, while Type C can provide up to four hours of protection.
Type C also doesn’t shrink when exposed to prolonged heat and is generally used in ceilings to prevent collapsing in case of a fire.
As the name suggests, this type of drywall is used to further isolate noise within a space.
I’ve personally used a product called QuietRock® in a music lessons studio. It definitely makes a difference in terms of how much sound travels through the walls.
The trade-off is it’s about twice the cost. Plus, it’s much heavier to lift and carry and more difficult to drill screws through when hanging up!
Soundproof drywall contains more layers than normal drywall, including wood fibers, polymers, and gypsum.
It is used for both walls as well as ceilings.
This type of drywall is utilized in hospitals or nursing homes, but musicians and singers can also use it in their home studios.
With all of the above customary taping and drywall mudding products and practices are used to complete the installation processes.
Why Size Matters
Drywall panels are also differentiated based on their size and thickness, apart from their properties, colors, and applications.
On the Basis of Size:
- 4 x 8-Foot Drywall: Most drywall panels come in this size, as it is the most commonly used one for various purposes. It can be installed both vertically as well as horizontally.
- 4 x 10-Foot Drywall: This one is slightly bigger than the first one and is generally used for taller walls and bigger ceilings.
- 4 x 12-Foot Drywall: This is generally the largest size available. It is used for high ceilings to cover a greater area with fewer boards.
On the Basis of Width:
This type of drywall is rarely used while constructing a new structure and is rather used as a cover-up material during remodeling or renovations.
Placing it over an existing wall helps give it a newer look while hiding any wear and tear.
A drywall of this width is usually used in places that don’t require a very thick or special type of drywall. It’s sturdier than the ¼ inch drywall but lesser than the others.
This is the most common width of drywall panels that are used in interior walls of homes and commercial spaces.
Apart from regular drywall, moisture-resistant and mold-resistant types are available in this width.
This is the thickest drywall available to use.
Fire-resistant and soundproof drywall sheets usually come in this thick width, as they offer more protection.
This size is also commonly used for ceilings as they are durable, long-lasting, and won’t sag over time.
You’ll have fewer drywall patching projects with these as they hold up against holes and cracks better.
What Material Is Sheetrock?
Sheetrock™ is made of gypsum (natural, synthetic, or mixed), paper, chemicals such as retarders (chelates).
Depending on the type (fire resistance, moisture-resistant, etc.), you can expect material such as vermiculite, boric acid (anti-mildew), silicones, and wax. Accelerators (BMA or sulfates) speed up the plaster’s drying time.
What Are the Advantages of Using Sheetrock?
Being sulfur-free is a clear advantage that separates Sheetrock™ from most drywall types.
Versatility is another—whether you need it for interiors, exteriors, suited to humid or fire hazard areas, etc., you’ll find a Sheetrock™ to suit your requirements.
With Sheetrock™, I get the freedom to determine what kind of wall finish I will get.
How Long Does Sheetrock Last?
As with all other gypsum boards, the life expectancy of Sheetrock™ is 30-70 years.
Some factors such as fire and moisture resistance will increase the longevity of your Sheetrock™.
Equally, neglect and extreme water exposure will decrease the life of your Sheetrock™.
In conclusion, the main differences between drywall and Sheetrock™ include types, sulfur quantities, and usage.
While you may find drywall options at economical prices, it’s recommended to use high-quality ones like Sheetrock™ to ensure the safety of your house and those who live in it!
Sunday 11th of September 2022
Is it possible to use Sheetrock, or something similar, on a curved interior wall?
Monday 12th of September 2022
Yes, you can absolutely use Sheetrock/drywall on curved walls. Whether a barrel vaulted ceiling, archway, or curved half wall, Sheetrock can be "bent" or even scored and installed via individual sections to create curves. It's important to have the right framing in place to accommodate or even a flexible track fastened to the framing to help get your required shape. The real trick is to wet the Sheetrock (e.g. using a mister bottle) to make it flexible and bendy. Check online for charts to tell you how much water to use based on the minimum radius of the curve you're doing.