Drywall was invented in 1916 but it wasn’t until the 1940s, after the war and during the baby boom, that the building material experienced a boom of its own. As families grew and folks moved from the cities to the suburbs, the need for new homes increased exponentially. Drywall was (and is!) inexpensive, easy to install without specialized skill, and readily available anywhere.
While plaster must be applied wet onsite, drywall is–well–dry, giving it yet another convenient advantage over its earlier counterpart. Drywall is made of gypsum plaster sandwiched between two sheets of thick facer or backer paper. For specialty drywall options, the gypsum is mixed with fiber and other additives to help strengthen, soundproof, mildew proof and fireproof the walls.
SIZES + THICKNESSES
4×8: The most common size, ready for everyday hanging. Perfect for “regular” sized rooms with common dimensions and ceiling heights.
4×6: A special size meant for easy transport in elevators for urban renovations in older buildings.
4×10: An in-between option that gives you a nice smooth surface for larger walls and ceilings.
4×12: The longest length available and, not surprisingly, is best used for high ceilings and vast expanses of wall.
1/4 Inch: Most commonly used to mount over an existing layer of wall for a cosmetic refresh. Since it’s the thinnest option, it’s also best for walls with curves in them, as it can most easily bend.
3/8 Inch: Used similarly to the quarter inch, also good for curved walls and patching existing drywall.
1/2 Inch: The most common choice; lightweight, easy to handle, and readily available. There is an “ultra light” version of the half inch thickness that is up to 13 pounds lighter than its traditional counterpart.
5/8 Inch: The thickest you can buy. As you’d expect, it’s the best thickness for soundproofing walls. Is often fire-resistant as well.