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Drywall vs Sheetrock

Drywall vs Sheetrock

We hear the terms “drywall” and “sheetrock” thrown around interchangeably – but what’s the difference? The short version is that “sheetrock” is to “drywall” what “Kleenex” is to “tissue.” It’s a specific brand name that has come to be so closely associated with the product that it’s often used as a generic term.

The Big Names in Drywall

As of 2013, there were just seven companies producing drywall sheets in the US. Ranked from smallest to largest in terms of production scale, the top three are: Each manufacturer has its own brand name for drywall:
  • Georgia-Pacific manufactures ToughRock® and other lines of gypsum-based products, most of which have names starting with “Dens” (DensDeck®, e.g.)
  • National Gypsum makes several lines with different names, including Purple XP® and Gold Bond® gypsum boards
  • USG, now owned by Knauf, produces Sheetrock® brand boards as well as some other lines

So What is Drywall?

Drywall and the less-common “gypsum board” are generic terms for a product made of a layer of powdery mineral called gypsum sandwiched between two sheets of paper. Over the years, technical innovations have improved the quality and possible applications of drywall panels but fundamentally, they’re all made using the “gypsum sandwich” approach that makes them easy to standardize and work with.

Sheetrock Panels

Why Do We Call it Sheetrock?

With so many brands and manufacturers, why is sheetrock the name most closely associated with drywall boards? Because the United States Gypsum Corporation (USG) invented the first modern drywall product in 1916 and named it Sheetrock®. Even though it was a brand name, the association between Sheetrock® and drywall stuck – and many people still use the terms interchangeably today.

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