Your Guide to Drywall for Bathroom Use

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In the olden days of home construction, walls were made using plaster and lath. Owing to its ease of installation and cost-saving benefits, drywall quickly replaced it to become ubiquitous in our modern homes.

Whether you are adding a bathroom to your home or you are renovating an existing one, you will need to decide on the drywall panels you want to use that will stay safe from mold. You also will need to either install them yourself or hire a contractor to help.

In this guide, we will help you go over some options for kinds of drywall for your bathroom.

We will discuss important drywall features, pros and cons of bathroom drywall, and some basics you need to know about installation and maintenance. Let's get started.

What is Drywall?

First of all, in case this is your first drywall project, let's briefly explain what drywall is. It consists of a mixture of gypsum, paper pulp, starch and an emulsifier that has been baked into sheets.

Drywall goes by a number of other names. Some of these include sheet rock, wallboard, plasterboard, custard board, buster board, gypsum board, or gypsum panels.

What is fascinating about gypsum is that it contains crystalline water molecules. As they are solid, drywall is, well, dry.

But in exposure to heat, the crystals in the core start to vaporize. This cools down the gypsum plaster board, which is why it is fire-resistant.

Pros of Drywall

  • Drywall is inexpensive. This makes it a cost-effective choice for any wall.
  • It is easy to install sheet rock in your house, even if you are a DIYer. The process is much more rapid than the old plaster and lath process that builders relied on prior to the advent of drywall.
  • As just discussed, drywall is fire-resistant.
  • If you need to resize wallboard, you can cut it with ease.
  • If your bathroom suffers damage at any point in the future, it is easier and less expensive to repair or replace drywall than it would be to repair or replace many other materials.
  • There are a lot of different products on the market. So, whatever features you are looking for, you can find exactly what you need for your project.

Cons of Drywall

  • Moisture can get into sheet rock since it is porous. Some kinds of drywall are more susceptible to moisture than others, so you may want to look for moisture-resistant drywall. You will find that there are a variety of options worth considering.
  • This isn't the best option from an environmental standpoint.
  • The appearance of drywall in your house is pretty utilitarian.

Drywall Alternatives

For the majority of bathrooms, drywall is the best material to choose. But if you are looking for an alternative for a wall, some ideas to consider include wood planks, masonry, bricks, pegboard, or cement board. Old-fashioned plaster and lath is still an option as well.

What Are the Different Drywall Types?

What kind of drywall do you use in a bathroom? First, let's take a look at some of the different sheet rock options in general. Then, we will go over which ones work best in bathrooms.

Here are some of the different kinds of drywall:

  • White board drywall: The most common type of drywall you will find is “white board.” This is just your standard, default form of drywall.
  • PURPLE drywall: The PURPLE brand name of drywall is a special type of moisture resistant sheetrock that features recycled paper components around a gypsum core. As you might expect, the paper has a purple color.
  • Blue board drywall: If you are going to finish your walls with veneer plaster, you will want to use blue board drywall. Indeed, a lot of prep work needs to take place if you want to apply veneer plaster on top of regular sheet rock. But it bonds directly to the surface of blue board drywall. It does resist moisture, but that is not its only purpose. Just as PURPLE drywall has a purple color, blue board drywall has a blue color.
  • Green board drywall: If you are looking for the ultimate moisture- and mold-resistant type of drywall, this is it. Just keep in mind that it is also more expensive than a lot of other types of sheet rock. It has a green color, making it instantly recognizable. It is often the first choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Type X or Type C drywall: If you need fireproof drywall, you will want to look for a glass-infused variety like Type X or Type C.
  • Soundproof drywall: For rooms where you want to block the transmission of sound, you can go with a thicker soundproof drywall that reduces noise transmission with polymers, wood, or gypsum.
  • Soundboard drywall: Sometimes drywall is needed for products that are designed specifically to transmit sound. In those cases, wood fiber-infused soundboard drywall may go into their manufacturing.
  • Paperless panels: You will notice that many types of sheet rock feature paper outer layers. But you can find paperless forms of drywall that are covered instead in fiberglass sheets. We will go into more detail about the benefits of such panels later in this article.
  • Cement board: This type of board contains cement, and is another good option for water resistance. Often, it is selected for backing tiles.
  • Enviroboard drywall: Those looking for an eco-friendly kind of drywall can consider this product. Recycled cellulose is used to manufacture it.

Best Types of Drywall for Your Bathroom

Credits: https://www.sunrisespecialty.com/

So, we have discussed different varieties of gypsum board. But which are ideal for use in your bathroom?

Well, fire isn't something you need to be all that concerned about in areas prone to moisture such as bathrooms.

You also probably do not need to concern yourself with soundproofing. Moisture, mildew, and mold are really your top concerns. So, water resistant sheetrock is what you need.

Nevertheless, some of the best types of drywall for mold and moisture in bathrooms are those that fall into unexpected categories. For example:

  • Sheetrock® Brand Mold Tough® Panels Firecode® X: This is a Type X product, so it is UL Classified for fire resistance. Nonetheless, it also features a gypsum core that resists moisture. The green face and brown back papers are also moisture resistant and mold resistant.
  • Sheetrock® Brand Ultralight Panels Mold Tough®: This is a similar product that is made of lightweight material. It is non-combustible and can stand up to moist conditions. For easy finishing, this product includes tapered long edges.
  • M-Bloc(R) Gypsum Board: Featuring blue face paper and brown back paper, this type of panel resists moisture, mold, and fire.
  • PURPLE XP(R) Drywall: Gold Bond Building Products, LLC states that this is the most versatile product in the PURPLE drywall family. It is suitable for walls and ceilings and “areas with limited water exposure.”
  • Gold Bond(R) XP(R) Gypsum Board: The company states that this product “offers the same advantages as a traditional moisture-resistant board with added mold resistance in the core and paper.” It features PURPLE face paper and gray back paper.

So, we have seen examples of Type X, blue, purple, and green board drywall products that all are acceptable for bathroom use. You might also consider paperless or cement board products.

What to Know About Installing Drywall

It is important to know that while some forms of sheetrock are water resistant, they are not completely waterproof.

The same goes for cement board. So, you may need to take additional waterproofing steps.

The manufacturer should have instructions for installation available for the bathroom drywall product you selected. Check them to see if you need any special tools.

In areas that are going to get wet in your bathroom like your shower, you should cover your wall studs with plastic sheeting or another moisture barrier before installing cement board as backing for your shower tiles.

As far as your sheetrock goes, you can screw that to your studs with galvanized gypsum board screws.

Where you hang green board or another type, you will want to increase your protection against moisture, mold, and mildew. To do that, apply a water-based urethane coating to the gypsum board.

What to Know About Maintaining Bathroom Drywall

Now that we have talked about how to install sheet rock, let's talk about how to maintain this mold resistant material.

To prevent mold from building up on bathroom drywall, you should apply some mild detergent to a damp cloth. After you take a shower, wipe down each wall with this cloth.

This method is most effective if there is already moisture on them from running hot water. You do not need to do this every time, but you should make it a regular habit.

Make sure there is adequate ventilation so that the space can dry out. You do not want moisture to sit on any surfaces.

Consider upgrading your fan if you need to. Also, be sure to take a close look at your tile grouting from time to time.

If you spot signs of mold, you will need to take fast action to remedy the problem before it spreads.

Frequently Asked Questions About Drywall

Let's answer a few frequently asked questions about these panels now that you understand drywall basics for the bathroom.

Q: Can you use regular drywall in a bathroom?

A: No, you cannot. Bathrooms are exposed to more moisture than other rooms in your house, no matter how well-ventilated they are.

So, you need to choose a specialized bathroom drywall product that can resist mold and mildew. Scroll back up for our detailed recommendations.

Q: Is Greenboard required in bathrooms?

A: You should check the codes for your jurisdiction to find out the exact requirements for your bathroom, especially in wet areas.

Actually, a lot of building codes specifically say that greenboard should not be used for ceilings or for tile backing (i.e. in shower enclosures).

Thus, greenboard may make a good choice for your bathroom walls, but not for under your tiles.

So, what should go under your tiles? Ideally, you should use a combination of cement board and liquid membrane, plastic sheeting, or sheet membrane.

Q: What is the best material to use for bathroom walls?

A: As discussed, a variety of types of sheetrock may suffice. You can try green, purple, blue, paperless, or Type X sheetrock, or you can use cement board.

Q: Can I install drywall on my bathroom ceiling?

A: That depends. How far apart are your ceiling joists? If there is more than 12″ between them, you should choose a different material. Otherwise, you are going to be dealing with sagging.

Q: Why use a paperless gypsum board?

A: This product features fiberglass around a gypsum core rather than paper. The most obvious benefit of fiberglass is that it does a good job resisting water.

But commonly, people also choose a fiberglass product because they appreciate its extra rigidity. If you have any concerns about damage, the added strength of fiberglass is one of the best drywall features around.

Considering that you're still reading this, we think you might be interested in other bathroom renovations like unlocking bathroom door effectively and how different bathroom sink drain parts work.

Summary

Now you know the basics of bathroom drywall construction to prevent mold and water damage.

Choose a bathroom drywall type that can resist moisture and which will be easy to install. With the right product and proper installation, your sheet rock walls should serve you well for years to come.

Mark Weber

Mark Weber

Mark started out as an electrical engineer before he became a licensed bathroom remodeling contractor. He loves writing about bathrooms and remodeling in his spare time, as it relaxes him to think of something besides work.

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