What is a Sheetrock Ceiling?

B. Turner

A Sheetrock® ceiling is a finished ceiling surface made from sheets of gypsum wallboard. While the name Sheetrock® is a trademark of the US Gypsum Company, the term is widely used eponymously for all types of drywall. Regardless of the manufacturer, drywall is made from gypsum, sand and water sandwiched between sheets of heavy paper. This material is widely used to construct ceilings in both commercial and residential structures.

Spackling paste should be sanded down after it dries.
Spackling paste should be sanded down after it dries.

Sheetrock® ceilings are attached directly to the floor or roof deck above, unlike drop ceilings that are suspended several inches below. The drywall is lifted into place then fastened to the deck using nails or screws. Seams are taped and covered with joint compound or Spackle® before being sanded and painted. Sheetrock used to construct a ceiling should be at least 1/2” thick (2.54 cm) to prevent the boards from sagging, and the sheets should be arranged to minimize the number of joints in order to create a smooth appearance.

Ceiling Sheetrock should be completed before the walls in order to make clean seams.
Ceiling Sheetrock should be completed before the walls in order to make clean seams.

Once the ceiling is complete, some owners may decide to add a textured finish. Simple textures create a look that's similar to plaster. Joint compound is applied with a trowel to form swirls or patterns. Others may prefer a spray finish, which can be used to create a “popcorn” ceiling or to mimic the look of stucco. The most common finish for a Sheetrock® ceiling is to simply leave the surface untextured and paint it to complement the décor of the room.

Drywall ceilings offer a number of advantages over other finish options. They are one of the best ways to maximize ceiling height, and take up much less space than a suspended grid ceiling. Choosing drywall instead of a drop ceiling will result in at least 6 inches (15.2 cm) of added ceiling height in a room, and this number may be even higher depending on the application. Sheetrock® is also quite versatile, and can be painted or textured as needed to update the look of the space.

Despite these advantages, there are also a number of potential drawbacks to consider when installing a Sheetrock® ceiling. The primary concern is that these ceilings provide no access to overhead mechanical and electrical components, and will need extensive repair if the ceiling is cut to access these items. Sheetrock® ceilings are also difficult and costly to install, and successful finishing will usually require the work of a professional. Finally, Sheetrock® ceiling installation can result in hard-to-clean messes from sanding dust and joint compound.

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