Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Barry Gray
Installing a new ceiling in your home can be a somewhat stressful and laborious process. This can be made especially more challenging if you are undertaking to complete the project yourself without the assistance of a professional. The thickness of the drywall used will have an impact on cost, fire safety, and structural integrity, among other items.
The typical drywall thickness to use on the majority of ceilings is the ½” type. This option allows for the least sagging between joists while ensuring that the installation remains relatively easy for the homeowner, whether or not they have assistance.
While ½” drywall is generally a great option for ceilings in the majority of homes, there are several factors that will influence whether this type of drywall is appropriate for your home in particular. 5/8” drywall is used in applications where building codes and rafter spacing dictate.
Can You Use ½” Drywall On Ceiling?
Fire codes and wider joist-spacing may call for thicker drywall in some circumstances, but ½” drywall is generally your best option for most ceiling applications. Half-inch drywall is the standard thickness used for most interior walls and ceilings for several reasons.
Firstly, this thickness of drywall for ceilings is relatively easy to carry as well as to hang up and attach to the roof structure above. An even easier option to handle is the ½” ultralight panels which will be discussed later in this article.
The standard half-inch drywall ceiling panels that are predominantly used in most ceiling applications measure 4 by 8 feet and generally weigh around 57 pounds. This is the heaviest and largest panel size that any DIY enthusiast will be able to carry and lift into place on their own.
Factors influencing choice of drywall thickness
When choosing drywall thickness, there are several factors that will influence your choice.
- Firstly, the size of the project will have an effect, as this will naturally affect the overall cost of the replacement of the ceiling.
- The amount of help you have available will also influence the thickness of ceiling drywall you may choose, as working alone with thicker and heavier panels will make the job significantly more difficult.
If you opt for the thinner drywall for your ceiling, it will be easier to work with and lift into place, but there is also a chance that it may bend and sag. Thicker sheets, therefore, are generally reserved for those instances where the ceiling joists are spaced significantly wider than the norm.
Half-inch drywall ceiling panels function best when attached to ceiling joists that are sixteen inches apart. In order to prevent sagging from occurring, nails should be applied every seven inches, or screws should be applied every twelve inches.
Half-inch drywall panels are also available in an insulated version that features an extremely strong core of “polyfoam” that will prevent the warping of the panels under most circumstances.
When Are Other Drywall Thicknesses Required?
Drywall is often used in cases where repairs need to be made to plaster ceilings. This is done through the use of 3/8” drywall that can be used to fix any significant holes in plaster of the same thickness.
In a home where the ceiling trusses are spaced at 24″ apart, 5/8″ drywall is a better option. This is because the use of thinner drywall such as ½” when the trusses are spaced so far apart will result in significant sagging of the thinner drywall material. Thicker drywall is more rigid and is, therefore, less prone to sagging.
If you need to create a fire barrier, such as between a garage and a home’s living space, a thicker 5/8″ drywall sheet is again a better option. This is generally a code requirement and will ensure that the drywall will provide the correct amount of fire protection for the house in the event that a fire occurs within the garage.
Thicker drywall paneling may also be required where the ceiling is covered in a texture or skim coat. This is because any significant texture or coating added to a ceiling will add to the overall weight of the ceiling. This will, in turn, cause the ceiling to become more prone to sagging.
Resultantly, thicker drywall in the ceiling will prevent this abovementioned sagging that may be inevitable with a heavily coated ceiling.
Drywall Panel Sizes
The size of the sheets that you will use in your ceiling drywall applications is a major consideration that will impact the entire process of installation. If you ensure that you purchase the correct size for your application, you will ensure that the number of joints in the ceiling is significantly minimized.
This will ensure an easier installation process. Bear in mind also that larger drywall sheets will be more difficult to handle as well as to install. They may be more difficult to move up staircases, around corners, or even through doorways.
Ultra-Light Drywall Panels
Ultralight drywall, through its innovative manufacturing techniques, is around 25% lighter than standard drywall. When looking at conventional ½” thick drywalling sheets, a panel of ultralight drywall of the same thickness will weigh around 13 pounds less.
Sheetrock Ultralight, one manufacturer of this product, mentions the specifications and physical makeup of this drywall type.
The company states that its ultralight drywall panels are made up of either gypsum or calcium dihydrate, cellulose, and glass fiber. There is a higher amount of corn starch as well as a specialized surfactant that both add to the lightness and the strength of this product.
While ultra-light drywall panels are naturally lighter and therefore easier to carry and transport, ultimately making them easier to install, they come at a significantly higher price than conventional drywall and feature poorer soundproofing qualities while simultaneously being more brittle.
Generally, ½” drywall is the go-to choice when it comes to ceiling installation. There are other commonly used options, such as 5/8″ drywall, as well as thinner options that have come onto the market more recently.
The thickness of drywall to be used on your ceilings will often depend on the spacing of the joists or rafters above, as well as the inherent weight of the drywall material itself. A thorough investigation of the roof structure, as well as the building codes relevant to your locale, will help to determine which drywall option will be the best for your circumstances.