When you’ve got a garage project in mind, you’ll eventually have to decide the best drywall for your garage? Garages have different requirements than interior and exterior walls, and how you’re going to use your garage matters, as well as whether it’s attached or detached. Other types of drywall have different properties and applications.
Learn what kind of drywall is suitable for your garage space and what other tools and tips you might need for your project. The right tools and materials will give you a durable, beautiful, and long-lasting space.
What Type of Drywall Should I Use for My Garage?
For the majority of your garage, you can use standard 1/2 inch drywall. For the ceiling and wall abutting the house (if this is an attached garage), you should use 5/8-inch sheetrock or type X fire-rated drywall.
Always check your local building codes. There is a code for everything, and your drywall is no exception. You may find that local regulations require 5/8-inch drywall throughout your garage, and some specify that a double layer of 1/2 inch drywall is sufficient to meet the fire-rating standard. Generally, codes only reference walls adjoining living space.
For the walls not abutting the house, you can use standard drywall sheets. It does dampen sound, provides a surface to hang things, but drywall itself does not offer much insulation and can have issues in humid weather. Using 1/2-inch sheetrock will save on cost and is easier to install, especially if you’re doing it yourself. A standard 4X8 sheet weighs a little over fifty pounds. By comparison, 5/8-inch drywall is about 70 pounds per panel.
When installing 1/2-inch drywall, use 1 1/4 inch drywall screws. Drywall screws come in coarse and fine threading. Always choose coarse threads for wood studs. Fine threaded screws are meant for metal frames and will not grip into wood joists.
All-purpose mud and drywall tape are good for just about any kind of drywall, including standard 1/2 inch.
Fire-resistant drywall is also called fire-rated drywall, and in the industry, type X drywall may be required in your area, especially on the wall against the house and garage ceiling. It is not ‘fireproof’ but is made with special non-combustible fibers and slows down fires. It is denser and 5/8-inch thick, as opposed to the 1/2-inch drywall used in most homes.
Type X drywall comes in standard 4-foot by 8-foot drywall sheets and is installed like your typical drywall. Use 1 5/8 inch screws for a single layer and 2 1/2 inch screws for a second layer. Check local building codes for the walls adjoining the house, but typically you insert a fastener every 6 inches. All-purpose drywall mud and joint tape are sufficient for fire-resistant drywall.
Fire-resistant drywall is more expensive than your typical sheetrock, about twenty-percent more expensive, but it is stronger and provides more sound-proofing than typical drywall. It’s used in garages, especially on the wall abutting the house as a fire barrier. It makes sense to use fire-resistant drywall in a garage as they’re often used as workshops, with heavy equipment, power tools, and lots of cords in there. Plus, unlike rooms in your house, where a fire will travel quickly through open doors and hollow core doors, garages are sealed from the rest of the house, and the type X drywall is an effective barrier.
Though 1/4-inch drywall is available – it’s generally used over existing drywall and is not suitable for covering alone. Use it to skin over existing drywall to freshen up.
There is a type of soundproof drywall that’s a mix of wood fibers, polymers and gypsum, and laminated. It’s fairly expensive- up to four times the cost of a standard sheet of drywall and can be used in garages if soundproofing is an issue for you. Still, as discussed below, there are plenty of other options for soundproofing your garage or workspace that are more cost-effective.
Choosing Drywall For Your Garage
Many area codes require all walls except, of course, the garage door is drywalled for fire safety purposes. There are other reasons, though, that you want drywall in your garage and how you use it will inform exactly what kind of drywall you choose. Is the drywall just for aesthetics? Are you going to insulate or heat your garage?
Maybe you’re concerned about creating a sound barrier between your garage and house, or perhaps you’re trying to keep your cold garage from sucking heat from the rest of the house. Although standard drywall and type X drywall are suited for many garages, there may be options you haven’t considered.
Attached vs. Detached Garages
If you’ve built a detached garage, and it’s sufficiently far enough away from dwellings, you will likely be able to drywall all walls with the cheaper, 1/2 inch boards. The ceiling will still need to have 5/8th inch so that it doesn’t bow against the trusses. Since detached garages tend to be more square-footage, and soundproofing isn’t a huge issue, it’s an excellent way to save time and money using 1/2 inch sheets.
If you’re going to use your garage either part-time or exclusively as a workshop, you may want to invest in something better suited to a multi-use space. Workshops will be much louder—heavy power tools, maybe even music. You’ll want some sound barrier between your garage and the rest of the house. If you’re in a colder climate, you may want to heat your garage and work out there year-round.
Though it’s more expensive and takes slightly more work to install, 5/8-inch sheetrock might be preferable for your whole space. It will insulate and provide a better sound barrier, and since workshops are such a small space, it should set you back too much cost-wise. Insulation is also recommended for workshops that will be climate controlled.
If your space is not going to be heated, as many attached garages are not, it’s still worth insulating at least the wall abutting the house. If there will be large temperature swings or live in very humid areas, green board, also called moisture-resistant drywall, is an option to reduce the chance of mold.
Greenboard is more expensive than typical drywall, and it is not waterproof. If you need a barrier between your walls and direct water (e.g., if you’ll be power washing the floors or washing your car in the garage), you need some barrier, at least at the base of your drywall. Cement stucco, cement backer board, or fiberglass panels will give you a more water-tight surface.
Other Helpful Tools For Drywalling Your Garage
No matter which type of drywall you choose for your garage, there are some standard tools you’ll need and some nice things to have that will speed your installation process, make clean-up easier, and give you great, professional-looking results.
At the very least, you will need:
- Drywall panels. Take your square footage and divide it by 32. Add a few sheets of drywall to account for mistakes.
- Joint compound. All-purpose will work.
- Drywall Tape
- Sanding block and Sandpaper
- Putty knife
- Utility knife
- Drywall saw/ jab saw
If you’re ready to invest in some professional-level tools, these will speed your drywall installation and give you much cleaner results. You can probably get by with the basics for one room, but if you’re drywalling a large area, you should consider some of these tools.
You can rent a drywall panel lift at your local hardware store. While it’s not necessary, if you’re drywalling yourself, it will save you a ton of time and energy. A drywall lift holds your drywall panels against the ceiling. Without one, you’ll need a buddy or install your DIY blocks against the strapping to hold the panels in place while you secure them.
Related: Do you need strapping for drywall?
Something like the Orion Motor Tech is a very decent dustless drywall sander at a price point that’s in reach for most DIYers. Garages are small enough spaces you could conceivably manually sand the entire space, but a power sander makes things much quicker and easier, and a dustless system will cut down on clean up. At the very low end, you can find drywall sanders for around $100. While it’s possible to use an orbital sander to finish your drywall, it is not recommended – orbital sanders will easily damage your drywall paper.
Every good workshop should have a standard wet/dry vacuum. Cutting and sanding drywall is going to create a lot of dust. While you might be able to clean it up with a lot of sweeping and wiping, nothing beats a Shop-Vac for quick and easy clean-up.
Get a heavy-duty HEPA filter and optionally a drywall dust collection bag. Your Shop-Vac will thank you. The filter will keep your motor from overheating and prevent tiny particles of dust from spewing out the exhaust back into the air.
Light Weight Joint Compound
For easy sand and minimal dust, use a lightweight joining compound like USG’s Easy Sand compound over your seams. All-purpose is harder to sand and creates much more dust. A final coat of special compound is your best chance for super smooth and even walls.
Dust Mask and Eye Protection
When sanding and cutting drywall, you should always wear proper protection. Drywall dust is not toxic, but compound dust may contain silica, which is. Dust particles may irritate your eyes and lungs.
If your garage walls are not already insulated, now is the time to install insulation. Even if you’re not using the garage as a workshop, insulating your garage is a good idea. The warmer the garage stays, the less heat you’ll lose from the main home.
Use fiberglass insulation. This type of insulation is thin sheets of fine fiberglass faced with sheets of paper and come in several R ratings. Use R-40 value in your garage ceiling, and depending on the size of the wall studs, you can use R-14 or R-21 value insulation for the wall. Always install drywall over insulation quickly. Exposed insulation is a fire hazard. Fill cracks in walls with expanding foam.
Alternatives To Drywall
If you’re looking for something functional and attractive that goes up relatively quickly, there are abundant options for garage walls besides traditional drywall.
PVC wall panels
Something like these Gladiator Wall Storage Panels is available from many brands and can be attached to drywall or right over bare studs. It’s an easy and attractive way to provide storage and shelf space. PVC board is also more water-resistant than drywall, so it’s a good solution for areas where you plan to use a hose. The downside is it’s significantly more expensive than drywall.
- 12 inch high by 48 inch long panels Interlock for the ultimate flexibility in storage and organization
- For mounting over 1/2 in. To 3/4 in. Drywall on wood studs or directly to bare wood studs
- Rated load 50 lbs. Per sq ft. (Based on lab test of 200 lbs). once attached to wall studs, the panels provide sturdy structure to Hang heavy items
A favorite for workshops and garages, pegboard is a relatively cheap way to cover your walls. It generally comes in wood and metal and provides quick and easy hanging for hooks and shelves. Most pegboard can be screw directly to the garage frame.
Great for small areas, wood cork comes in a variety of colors and is relatively cheap. It’s also great for soundproofing your garage. Wood cork is not very strong, shouldn’t be used over a large area, and protected from water.
There you go! Get together your tools and start drywalling your garage. The simplest way to drywall your garage is to use 5/8-inch sheetrock for your ceiling and the wall adjoining any living space and use a 1/2-inch 4 X 8-foot standard drywall on all other walls. If you’re looking for something special out of your garage, or you’re planning on using it as a workspace or a place to wash your car, keep in mind other options can protect your garage base from water and drywall alternatives that can provide beauty and functionality for your space.
Remember always to check local building codes and get necessary permits when building or refinishing your garage. With the right tools and preparation, you’ll have a professional-looking, comfortable and code-compliant outdoor space.