What is a Drywall Sheet?

Anna Brooks

A drywall sheet is a construction material that is typically used to make the interior walls and ceilings of houses. It is usually made of gypsum plaster that has been pressed between two thick sheets of paper. It is typically light in color so that it can be easily painted in the desired interior color. Other common names for a drywall sheet are wallboard, Sheetrock®, and gypsum board.

A man uses a taping knife to skim coat a drywall sheet.
A man uses a taping knife to skim coat a drywall sheet.

Drywall can be hung horizontally or vertically, depending on the needs of the space. Multiple sheets are hung side-by-side to cover a room. First, a sheet is cut to size for a particular wall or ceiling. Then, a small saw is used to create cutouts for light switches, outlets, and any other small openings. Each drywall sheet is then attached to the room frame using nails or drywall screws.

Drywall sheets, also known as gypsum board or plasterboard, are flat, white boards used to create the inside walls of homes.
Drywall sheets, also known as gypsum board or plasterboard, are flat, white boards used to create the inside walls of homes.

The area where the two sheets meet — called the joint — is taped and covered with a joint compound. In order to ensure that the final wall or ceiling will be even, the compound must be smoothed and, often, sanded. This is one of the most difficult and precise tasks related to hanging drywall, and many professionals feel that there is an art to properly taping and smoothing joint compound.

Drywall is available in many sizes.
Drywall is available in many sizes.

Drywall sheets can be prepared in a variety of ways to meet construction needs. For example, they can be made to be fireproof, to reduce sound, or to resist bathroom moisture. Drywall sheets are typically sold in 1/2- and 5/8-inch (12.7 and 15.8 mm) thicknesses, although some can be as narrow as 1/4-inch (6.35 mm) thick. They are often 4 foot by 8 foot (1.2 m by 2.4 m) in size, although bigger sheets are available. A drywall sheet that large is useful for a particularly big space; the larger each sheet, the fewer sheets are needed, and the fewer joints remain to be sealed and smoothed.

When used to create walls, drywall panels are hung from wall studs with screws and then taped and plastered over with joint compound where the panels meet.
When used to create walls, drywall panels are hung from wall studs with screws and then taped and plastered over with joint compound where the panels meet.

Unlike traditional plaster, a drywall sheet can be installed very quickly by experienced drywallers, or even managed do-it-yourselfers. If the drywall sheets are small enough, one person can do the job alone. Given that it is such a popular building material, it is easily obtained at general retail building supply stores, not just in specialty stores

Traditional plaster takes a long time to install and dry.
Traditional plaster takes a long time to install and dry.

In order to assist the process of how building architects, contractors, and owners communicate about the look and feel of the drywall sheet, four trade associations issued recommendations in 1990 for levels of drywall sheet finish. The levels range from 0 to 5, with each level representing an increased quality of final product.

Individual sheets of drywall should not be identifiable if the wall is finished correctly.
Individual sheets of drywall should not be identifiable if the wall is finished correctly.

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Discussion Comments

sunshined

One of our good friends has spent most of his career installing drywall. He spends a lot of his day working off a scaffolding and putting up sheets of drywall in new buildings.

There have been a few times we needed his help and advice when we were attempting a home drywall project. It was really nice to have an expert who knew what they were doing to help us along.

Before this I really didn't know much about using drywall tools, what drywall mud was used for, etc. This would be hard work to do on a full time basis, but when you think about all the new construction that is done, you need a lot of people who are willing to do this.

julies

When we were getting ready to sell our house, we wanted to make our basement a little bit more presentable, so put up drywall on all of the walls.

It is too bad we waited so long to complete this process because it completely changed the look of the whole basement.

We did the work ourselves and even though it was a process, was worth it when we were done.

The most frustrating thing was the layer of dust that settled on everything on a daily basis. I would clean before I went to bed, and when I woke up in the morning would have a fine layer of dust on everything that had settled during the night.

Even though the drywall was being installed downstairs in the basement, the dust would be over everything that was upstairs as well.

I was glad when we were done and learned a lot during the whole process about installing drywall and what some basic tips and tricks were.

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