How to Drywall a Bathroom
Drywall is an almost universally popular building material because of its practicality and low cost. It is safe, durable, easy to work with, naturally fire resistant, and delivers great-looking results in little time. If you’re thinking about a home renovation, odds are good that you’ll be installing drywall in at least some of the rooms. You may even be wondering if you can put drywall in the bathroom. The short answer is yes, but there is a little bit more to consider when hanging sheetrock in a bathroom, especially one with a shower or bathtub.
Moisture: the Achilles’ Heel of Drywall
Drywalling a bathroom is, in many respects, like drywalling any other room in the house. You will follow the same basic steps of measuring, cutting, hanging, and marking fixtures. The difference is in the type of drywall you need to use.
Standard sheetrock consists of gypsum sandwiched between sheets of paper. Unfortunately, when exposed to a lot of moisture, the organic material in the paper can serve as a growth medium for mold. That makes standard drywall a poor choice for bathrooms, where humidity is high. Instead, you’ll want to choose from one of a few kinds of special drywall boards that resist mold and/or moisture:
- Green drywall (or “greenboard”) is similar to standard drywall but bears a green coating on the paper that helps it resist moisture
- Paperless drywall is a relatively new option that is starting to replace standard drywall. These boards are covered in thin sheets of fiberglass, rather than paper, which makes them a bit more durable while also making them more mold resistant
- Purple drywall is like a more advanced version of greenboard. It’s treated to make it extra resistant to moisture, mold and mildew
These different types of moisture-resistant drywall also offer varying degrees of protection, so think about how much use your bathroom gets, how much moisture it will be exposed to, and what your budget will allow. A rarely used guest bathroom, for instance, may be fine with less moisture resistance while the master bath with a Jacuzzi tub and daily showers may need something heavier duty to avoid costly repairs.
Finally, while all these products are more moisture-resistant than traditional drywall, none of them are completely moisture- or mold-proof. Do not use them in active wet zones like inside the shower stall. Instead, use cement backing board inside the shower.
Practical Considerations for Installation
Once you have selected your bathroom-friendly drywall, the process of installing it is more or less like any other room. It is likely, however, that the bathroom will have more fixtures to accommodate than most other rooms, since it will have all the standard electrical and lighting considerations plus plumbing hookups in one small space.
The issue of moisture in bathrooms also is important in selecting the style of corner bead used to finish the drywall in order to resist mold or rust damage. Vinyl corner beads are ideal for finishing bathrooms as they aren’t a source for mold growth like paper covered corner beads, and they will not rust like metal beads if exposed to water.
For more detailed installation information, check out our guides on how to hang drywall and how to finish the tricky area where the drywall meets the shower enclosure.