What are the Different Types of Drywall Materials?

M.R. Anglin
M.R. Anglin
A man uses a taping knife to skim coat a drywall panel.
A man uses a taping knife to skim coat a drywall panel.

There are several different types of drywall materials available, and to put up drywall, you will have to obtain the appropriate ones for your project. Among the various materials available are the different types of drywall, fastening materials, plaster, and drywall tape. Each of these supplies plays an important role in putting up drywall. For instance, the different types of wallboard will have different purposes and are best used in different situations. In certain applications, you will need to obtain a specific type of wallboard required by authorities.

Drywall is available in many sizes.
Drywall is available in many sizes.

The first of the many drywall materials you will need in order to put up drywall is the wallboard itself. Drywall is essentially two pieces of paper with a gypsum center. The paper on one side of the board is rough, and the other side is smooth. The rough side is to be placed facing the studs, while the smooth side is known as the finishing side and should be placed facing outward.

Joint compound is used to cover nails, seams and cracks in drywall.
Joint compound is used to cover nails, seams and cracks in drywall.

Normal drywall is fine for general applications, but if you are planning to place a wall in a place where it may get wet, other options are needed. Greenboard is a type of drywall that is resistant to water and can be used around sinks and toilets. It is easy to spot because it is normally green. If a person plans to put the wall in a place where it will get wet, such as near a shower, a more waterproof drywall option should be used. Drywall materials, such as cement drywall, which has a cement center and has fiberglass on the outer layers, is better suited to such applications.

Apart from the drywall itself, there are several other types of drywall materials. To fasten the drywall to the wall studs, special nails or screws are used. These drywall nails are specifically made for fastening drywall into wooden studs and should not fall out in the future. In addition, there are special fasteners that will do their job even when wet. To join the drywall together and get rid of any holes or gaps that may exist between drywall panels, drywall materials known as joint compounds are used.

Several types of joint compound exist, including pre-made and powdered versions which should be mixed on site. The compound by itself will not do the job, however. To make sure the gaps between drywall panels stay closed, drywall tape is used. Drywall tape is essentially a roll of paper. It is held in place by the compound and is designed to keep the two panels of wallboard together.

Discussion Comments


Until I went to the hardware store recently, I didn't realize there were so many different types of drywall materials.

We had a leak in our house a couple months ago that had started to rot out part of the drywall. Since we were planning to repaint the room anyway, I decided it would be better to just replace the whole sheet instead of just getting a patch. The soft spot was in a corner, and a patch would have looked weird.

It wasn't until I started taking down the old sheet that I realized it was hung sideways. I would have expected it to be vertical, but I guess horizontal makes more sense.

I just got the basic materials for my small job, but there were tons of specialty products for any kind of situation. I think it would be hard being a good repairman and knowing when to use all the different materials.


@jmc88 - The only additional information I would add from the last post is that you want to install the drywall horizontally rather than vertically. A lot of people don't realize this is the proper technique.

Installing horizontally gives the building more support because the sheets are crossing more than two studs. It also allows a better "shelf" for the drywall mudding to sit. Hanging vertically lets the mud slide down the grooves. Also, when the building shifts, which is will, vertical drywall will start to show cracks.

Besides that, just make sure you're using the right type of drywall. If you're in a very humid climate, it might be wise to invest in some moisture resistant drywall for the garage. Good luck!


@jmc88 - I would say that you have heard right. It seems like it would be difficult to do on your own, but I know plenty of people with limited DIY skills that have successfully installed their own drywall. As far as cost goes, you'll save a lot by doing it yourself. Prices are always changing and cost per sheet of drywall will depend on the type, but it is usually around $10 per sheet give or take a couple dollars. Having someone install it will cost about $30 per sheet.

Obviously, the larger area you cover, the less the average cost per sheet will be, but even a garage, you'll save quite a bit even after factoring in screws and joint compound.

One special tool that I would suggest you get if you are doing this on your own would be a foot lift. This is necessary to get the drywall a little bit off of the floor to allow for expansion of the drywall. If you have a helper, they may be able to hold up the piece, but they aren't very expensive, so I would get one anyway.


I may be getting in over my head with this, but I am thinking about trying to install the drywall in my garage. Until now, it has just been bare wood, but we are wanting to make it look a little bit nicer. I have always heard that hanging drywall isn't as hard as it seems, but I wanted to get others' opinions first.

First off, what is the typical drywall cost per sheet? I haven't gone to any hardware stores to look at prices yet, but I can't seem to find any consistent estimates online. If I were to install it, do you think it would be worth the cost I would save on having someone else do it for me?

If I do decide to do this, are there any hints or tips that I should know before getting started that might make everything a little bit easier on me? Any special tools that might be helpful would be appreciated, as well.

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