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Lightweight Drywall vs Standard Drywall

Lightweight Drywall vs Standard Drywall

Intro: A Brief History

Lightweight ½” drywall for sale first came on the market in 2010, relieving installers from the weight of standard drywall and other wallboards. The first developer of lightweight drywall, United States Gypsum Corporation, gave it the brand name Sheetrock UltraLight. It didn’t take long for other gypsum board developers to conform to the new pattern, creating their products.

In 2012 USG also announced that they would also start making a 5/8” lightweight drywall that would no longer have the fire rating most commonly associated with the thicker option. Since then, all major gyp manufacturers have developed a lightweight version of 5/8” drywall. The next horizon for the industry is to create a 5/8” lightweight drywall that meets the standard for required fire ratings.

See the table below on the average weight changes between standard and lightweight drywall in pounds per square foot:

Comparison of lightweight drywall to standard weight

Labor Reduction/ Ease of Use

Although both standard drywall and lightweight drywall are good for any room in your house (except the bathroom) the lightweight option is more user-friendly. Since it is lighter, carrying it around and hanging it isn’t incredibly difficult.

The advantage of using lightweight over standard drywall is that you will be more productive when carrying a product that is, on average, 13 pounds lighter.

Type-X vs Non-Type-X

Lightweight 5/8″ drywall is not ordinarily Type-X: usually, to achieve a fire-rated wall with lightweight 5/8″ drywall, you need to apply the drywall as if it is 1/2″ drywall. This means that you would need to use 2 layers of lightweight 5/8″ drywall for every single layer of 5/8″ Type-X used in a normal 1-hour fire-rated assembly. This application will need to be verified according to your local building code.

Are you looking to install a fire-resistant drywall? Then you have a choice between Type-X and Type-C. Type-X drywall is the most common fire-resistant drywall in fire-rated applications, but Type-C is sometimes used when an even further level of fire-rating is needed.

Drywall that stands at least an hour of fire exposure is called Type-X. Although Type-C has similar fire-resistant attributes to those of Type-X, it has a better fire rating when dealing with certain applications because of its special core formulation which includes a higher concentration of fiberglass. (To further complicate the matter, read up on the difference between a fire separation vs a fire wall.)

Beware that your local building code might require a fire rating on certain walls in your house. The most common wall that must be fire rated is the partition wall between your garage and living space. Be sure to use standard weight Type-X or Type-C drywall for that application.

Prevalence of Lightweight vs Regular

Although lighter boards have enjoyed market popularity since their development, they have not crowded out standard drywall. This is because lightweight drywall cannot meet all the needs that standard drywall options can. For example, standard drywall is more prominent when it comes to installing fire-resistant and soundproof drywall.  

Pros and Cons of Lightweight Drywall

The obvious advantage of lightweight drywall is that less weight means more productivity and fewer injury risks to the builder. You will also save on weight-based transportation costs. Moreover, DIY-ers will find it easier to complete their projects.

However, lightweight drywall sheets are sometimes more costly, have a consistency that takes some getting used to if you’re experienced with standard wallboard, and it exhibits increased sound transmission. Ultra-light drywall problems are few and far between on a larger scale, but some drywallers will always use standard weight board because “that’s how I’ve always done it.”

That works for us: Inside-Out Builders Supply carries both standard weight drywall and lightweight drywall for each builders preference!