Drywall Facts

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Chapter 16
Drywall Facts

  • Drywall weight
  • Drywall use
  • Gypsum locations in USA
  • World gypsum production
  • Joint compound
  • Drywall has grain
  • Drywall R-value
  • Grandfather of gypsum board

The most significant use for gypsum is for wallboard and plaster products. All modern homes in North America and other developed countries use a great deal of wallboard for interior walls. The United States is the world’s leading consumer of wallboard at over 30 billion square feet per year. Some gypsum is used to make Portland cement, and some is used in agricultural applications. A small amount of very pure gypsum is used in glass making and other specialized industrial applications.

In the United States, gypsum is mined in about 19 states. The states producing the most gypsum are Oklahoma, Iowa, Nevada, Texas, and California. Together, these states account for about two-thirds of the United States’ annual production of gypsum. Over 30 million tons of gypsum is consumed in the United States annually. Canada, Mexico and Spain are other significant producers of raw gypsum. In all, more than 90 countries produce gypsum.

Weight of Drywall Table

8' Panel
10' Panel
12' Panel
38.4 lbs.
48 lbs.
44.8 lbs.
56 lbs.
67.2 lbs.
54.4 lbs.
68 lbs.
81.6 lbs.
73.6 lbs.
92 lbs.
110.4 lbs.
SHEETROCK brand - Regular Panels

Joint Compound - Regular Vs. Lightweight
You may have know that a typical box of joint compound weighs 50 pounds; but did you know that a box of lightweight joint compounds weighs one third less and weighs 33 pounds.

Follow the Grain of Drywall

It may surprise you to discover that gypsum board has a definite grain. Its parallels the long tapered edge of the sheet. The panel has more strength with the grain than across, so you'll get stronger construction and better results by running the long edge of the panel perpendicular to the framing whenever possible.

Drywall R-value and STC

Drywall provides an R-value of 0.32 for 3/8" board, 0.45 for 1/2" board, 0.56 for 5/8" and 0.83 for 1" board. In addition to increased R-value, thicker drywall has a higher STC.

What's up with the Name Drywall?

The name drywall derives from drywall's replacement of the lath and plaster wall building method, in which plaster was spread over small wooden formers while still wet. This method was time consuming and labor intensive (although skilled plasterers could do the job with great rapidity), whereas an entire house can be drywalled in a day or two by two experienced "drywallers", and drywall is easy enough to use that it can be installed by many amateur home carpenters.

Hydrated Calcium Sulfate

Gypsum is the most common of the approximately 150 sulfate minerals. Sulfates are compounds of one or more metals with oxygen and sulfur. Gypsum is found in nature in mineral and rock forms. As a mineral, it can form very pretty and sometimes extremely large crystals. As a rock, gypsum is typically found in thick beds or layers in sedimentary deposits. It is mined in many places across the United States. Less than one-third of the amount needed is imported, and that is mainly from Canada.

More than two-thirds of the gypsum is used for plaster and wallboard in houses and other buildings.

World Gypsum Production

  • Worldwide gypsum production in 2000 is reported as being 117 million US tons (2001 estimated 121 US tons), although production in developing countries are not reported. 90 countries produced gypsum, of which 6 accounted for 57% of worldwide production. Over 121 US tons of synthetic gypsum is generated worldwide.

  • The USA leads the World in gypsum production, in 2000 accounting for 18.5% of reported global output. An average new American home contains more that 8.06 US tons of gypsum or, in other terms, more than 6,146 square feet of gypsum wallboard.

  • World production of gypsum wallboard (drywall or plasterboard) in 2000 was at least 60 billion square feet produced in more than 250 plasterboard plants, of which about 50% are located in the USA.

  • As a low value, high bulk product drawn from widely distributed deposits, 80% of gypsum is used in the country where it is mined. The World’s largest known deposit of gypsum is found on the west coast of Australia.

Source of data: US Geological Survey Mineral Commodity summaries

Grandfather of Modern Gypsum Board

Augustine Sackett is considered the grandfather of the gypsum board manufacturing industry. In 1894 he patented the first plaster board called "Sackett Board". Later in 1909, the U.S. Gypsum company bought Mr. Sacketts's business for an undisclosed sum of money. Today, USG is best known for its SHEETROCK® brand gypsum and remains the top producer of gypsum board and related products.

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