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Types of Drywall (And When to Use Them)

Planning to hang your own drywall?

Before selecting your preferred drywall thickness and drywall size, you must pick the right type of drywall for the job. 

There are roughly 5 to 10 main types of drywall (depending on who you ask). Each has its own best applications and uses, depending on the project. 

Today, I look at each individual type of drywall and when to use them.

Different Types of Drywall Explained 

shelving with different types of drywall panels at home improvement store

Selecting the right type of drywall for your project is largely a matter of improving its lifespan.

You can usually get away with using standard drywall (white board) for most projects, although it’s not the best choice for certain applications. You’re better off matching the specific application with the best type of drywall.

Here are the 7 main types of drywall and their best uses. 

White Board Drywall (Standard)

White board is your standard type of drywall. 

Also known as regular drywall, it’s the most commonly used for the vast majority of drywall projects. 

It’s almost always white on one side and brown on the other with paper backing.

What’s great about white board drywall is all of the sizing options. It’s available in a wide range of standard and alternative lengths and widths as well as a variety of thicknesses.

Standard drywall is suitable for walls and ceilings as well as finishing basements.

Another benefit of this basic type of drywall is its price – it’s the most affordable option around.

Green Board Drywall (Moisture-Resistant)

Sometimes you need a little extra moisture-resistance that standard drywall just can’t offer.

When that’s the case, go with green board drywall.

One of the most moisture-resistant types of drywall, green board is perfect in areas that see more moisture and humidity than your average room.

Remember: this doesn’t mean this drywall should actually get wet.

Rather, it’s best used as moisture-backing, such as behind tile in bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms, and the like.

Although green board drywall is moisture-resistant, it’s far from waterproof. 

Blue Board Drywall (Plaster Baseboard)

Also known as plaster baseboard, blue board drywall is commonly used in veneer plastering.

Like green board, this drywall is also highly moisture resistant. 

Not only does it have high moisture resistance, but it also uses a special surface paper with high absorption qualities.

Do note that the process of installing blue board is a little different than other types of drywall.

Case in point – it’s not made for you to mud, tape, or paint after hanging. It’s constructed specifically for veneer plastering.

Because of its moisture-resistant properties, blue board drywall is most common in bathrooms and other areas with high humidity.  

Paperless Drywall 

Paperless drywall is a relative newcomer to the scene, but it already competing with standard drywall. 

In fact, it’s nearly the same thing as standard drywall (both have a gypsum core). The key difference is right there in the name – rather than a paper exterior layer, paperless drywall is covered in fiberglass.

Paperless drywall is notable for its durability as well as its mold and mildew resistance. It’s also much more resistant to standard wear and tear than its standard counterpart. Furthermore, paperless drywall is somewhat fire resistant since its noncombustible. 

Although paperless drywall is notably rougher in texture than standard drywall (which requires a little more care when applying joint compound for an even finish), some construction pros find it easier to cut.

For most home DIYers, however, standard drywall is typically a better choice than paperless drywall for most residential applications.

Purple Drywall (Mold-Resistant) 

Purple drywall is yet another moisture-resistant drywall – this time particularly adept at preventing mold.

Unlike green board drywall, purple board not only protects against moisture, but it also helps protect against the growth of mold and mildew, making it a superior, if more expensive, product for humid locations.

In fact, if you know the drywall will actually come into contact with water, rather than simply moisture or humidity, purple drywall is a must.

As you can imagine, this type of mold-resistant drywall is ideal for bathrooms as well as kitchens, laundry areas, and utility rooms.

Type X Drywall (Fire-Resistant)

Type X is more widely known as fire-resistant drywall.

Although it’s not fireproof, it’s certainly much more fire-resistant than other types of drywall.

In fact, for drywall to be designed “Type X,” it must receive 45 minutes of fire resistance for a 1/2-inch thick panel or 1 hour of fire resistance for a 5/8-inch thick panel.

You can use type X drywall on its own or use several layers of panels. In fact, most shared walls in multi-unit buildings or homes, like apartments, use multiple two layers of drywall for better fire resistance not to mention superior soundproofing. 

Several buildings codes require fire-resistant drywall – so make sure to check if it’s needed in certain areas before starting your project. 

Soundproof Drywall

Soundproof drywall is specially designed to improve sound insulation.

These panels are typically made from laminated drywall panels filled with wood fibers and polymers as well as gypsum to increase sound dampening. 

Do note that soundproof drywall is quite a bit denser and tougher than traditional drywall. This means it’s often more difficult to cut. Although you can usually score and snap regular drywall, you’ll likely need a drywall saw when working with soundproof panels.

Soundproof drywall has several uses. In addition to multi-family units, it’s a great choice for music rooms, television rooms, music studios, and other areas where loud, regular noise is common.

What About Drywall Sizes?

sheets of drywall

Drywall type is only one factor to consider when selecting the best drywall for your project.

Just as important is drywall size and drywall thickness. 

Size refers to the length and width of the panels. Although 4×8-foot panels are most common (and best suited to most projects), several alternative sizes are available. 

Thickness refers to, well, the thickness of each panel. 1/2-inch thick is most common on walls while 5/8-inch thick is often used on ceilings. 1/4-inch and 3/8-inch drywall are other common sizes.

For more information on drywall sizes, we’ve put together a drywall size guide and a drywall thickness guide

Which Type of Drywall Is Right for You?

workers hanging drywall panel on ceiling

So, which type of drywall is best for your project?

As explained above, it depends on the project and your particular needs. 

For most projects, standard drywall in the 4×8-foot size and 1/2-inch thickness will do just fine.

In areas with excessive moisture, like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry areas, moisture-resistant drywall, like green board drywall or paperless drywall, is helpful and longer lasting.

More specialized types of drywall, like fire-resistant drywall (type X) is useful in garages and furnace rooms.

Because of its sound-dampening properties, it’s also a great choice for shared walls between separate units in multi-family buildings. 

Indeed, fire-resistant drywall is often required by building codes in commercial construction and for apartment buildings.

The right type of drywall for you basically boils down to the specifics of your project, although standard drywall gets the job done most of the time.

Drywall Types FAQ

cordless drill with drywall screws

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about drywall types.

Q: What’s the best type of drywall to use?

Although it’s important to buy the drywall best suited to the project at hand, standard 1/2-inch thick drywall is certainly the most popular. Quality also varies among brands. 

Q: How many types of drywall are there? 

Depending on how you categorize type, most experts say there are between 5 and 10 distinctly different types of drywall, including standard, moisture-resistant, and fire-resistant.

Q: What is the difference between sheetrock and drywall?

Sheetrock is actually a specific brand name of drywall. That said, sheetrock is often used interchangeably as a term for drywall. 

Q: What is drywall made out of?

Most drywall types are made from two sheets of paper board filled with gypsum powder.

Q: What can I use instead of drywall?

Wood, veneer plaster, brick, masonry, and cement board are just a few of the many alternatives to drywall you can use for walls and ceilings.

Final Thoughts on Drywall Types

Knowing which type of drywall you need is one of the first steps to any DIY drywall project. 

But, there’s definitely a lot more that goes into drywalling. So, check out our additional drywall resources for more info, including our post on how to remove drywall if renovation is part of your project.

Need more help? Check out our Drywall Resouce Page for all things drywall.