Definition - What does Drywall mean?

Drywall is a sheet or panel of construction material made of gypsum plaster pressed between thick sheets of fiberglass mats or heavy paper. It is widely used for ceilings and interior walls.

Gypsum plaster is made from a mixture of raw gypsum, plasticizer, finely ground gypsum crystal, foaming agent, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), wax emulsion and various additives. The mixture is sandwiched between the outer sheets and dried to form rigid boards or panels.

Drywall is also known as plasterboard, gypsum board and sheetrock.

Corrosionpedia explains Drywall

Various types of drywall have been developed since the first drywall was manufactured in 1888 in the United Kingdom. By 1916, drywall became famous in the United States as an alternative to wood and concrete for cheaper and faster construction.

However, since 2001 some drywall imported from China was identified as a source of toxic gases that caused illness and corroded various metals parts in the houses or buildings where they were used.

Drywall is not as durable as wood or concrete, and it wasn't until World War II that builders and homeowners considered using drywall which is easier to install. For example, a wall requiring weeks to plaster could be completed in two days using drywall.

Through the years drywall manufacturers added a number of improvements that resulted in the following benefits:

  • Lighter weight, from an average of 2 pounds per square foot (9.8 kg per sq m) in the 1950s to about 1.6 pounds per square foot (8 kg per sq m). The lower weight reduces shipping costs and facilitates installation and handling.
  • Easy to repair when damaged.
  • Fire resistance developed in late 1950s made drywall suitable for walls or ceilings requiring a fire rating beyond 20 minutes.
  • Moisture resistance developed in the early 1960s led to the production of aluminium-laminated drywall suitable for bathrooms, basements and high-moisture areas.
  • Improved sound insulation.
  • Improved impact resistance.

However, concerns remain for drywall, such as:

  • Screws pop out unexpectedly.
  • Vulnerable to moisture damage.
  • Paper is edible by termites.
  • Corrosion, distasteful odor and illnesses caused by volatile sulphur compounds and other toxic gases emitted by the so-called “Chinese drywall.” Hydrogen sulfide gas smells like rotten eggs.

Drywall is also known as sheetrock, which is not a generic name but a drywall brand name produced since 1916.

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