If you’ve got a lot of drywall you’re saving for a project, you’re probably wondering how to store it properly to ensure it stays safe and structurally sound for weeks or even months.
Fortunately, storing drywall is simpler than it sounds, and keeping it protected from the elements doesn’t have to be a headache.
It is possible to store drywall outside in a structure like a shed or a garage, but it must be completely covered and protected from the elements like rain, snow, and excess humidity. It should be stored at around 50% humidity and around 50-60° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C).
Read on to learn more about storing drywall properly and what you’ll need to keep in mind if you intend to keep it in excellent shape for as long as possible.
Can Drywall Be Stored Outside?
In general, storing drywall outdoors is tricky, as there are a lot of potential factors to think about depending on where and how you store it.
Keeping it safe from moisture should be your main goal regardless of where you plan to keep it, as water damages and quickly breaks down drywall.
Additionally, storing your drywall will depend on how long you need to store it.
If it’s a nice day and you’ve got a few sheets leaning against your garage door outside, it’s likely fine to stay uncovered for an afternoon.
However, if you need to store the drywall outside for more than a day, it’ll need to be covered carefully in the event of increased humidity, rain, snow, hail, etc.
Harsh sunlight and high temperatures are problematic when storing drywall, particularly outdoors.
Again, suppose you’re keeping a sheet or two outside for a mild spring afternoon.
In that case, you’re likely in the clear, but leaving them uncovered on hot, sunny days for extended periods leaves drywall prone to becoming weaker and developing cracks and holes.
Another potential issue when storing drywall outside is damage from insects like termites and ants.
These pesky bugs can easily chew and burrow through drywall, leaving holes, cracks, and their unpleasant waste, like frass, behind.
Essentially, it is possible to store drywall outdoors.
Still, when storing it for long periods (as in, longer than a single sunny afternoon or so), it’ll need to be thoroughly protected with a cover tarp and kept away from moisture and sunlight.
It’s best to store it in a structure like a shed or a garage if you need to keep it outdoors or cover it with thick, dark tarps away from direct sunlight or moisture.
Remember, fixing damaged drywall, especially water-damaged drywall, is often a tedious and frustrating ordeal!
Can You Store Drywall In The Cold?
Drywall is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, but it has its limits.
Generally, gypsum boards should be kept at around 50-70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) or around standard room temperature.
Most experts consider the “ideal” temperature for storing drywall to be about 55-60° degrees Fahrenheit (15° C).
Humidity levels should be low-to-moderate at around 50%.
Anything colder than about 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C) is where the danger zone for most regular drywall begins, as low temperatures are great at causing holes and cracks to form fairly quickly.
Cracks in drywall also increase the chance of water getting in and damaging it from the inside.
Another thing to keep in mind is temperature fluctuations when storing drywall.
Even if it isn’t particularly cold or hot wherever you’re storing the boards, sharp, fast changes in temperatures will also leave drywall more prone to cracking, crumbling, and breaking.
Drywall corners and edges are particularly fragile.
A shift from low to high in a short period, for example, would be especially problematic, even though this temperature range seems pretty mild.
Also, humidity often fluctuates with temperature changes, so all things considered, it’s best to store drywall in a temperature-controlled area.
This will ensure it doesn’t get too cold (or too hot) and keep humidity from shifting too wildly too often.
Most homeowners know to have an accurate thermostat nearby to monitor temperature changes when storing drywall, but a humidity gauge is just as important!
What Happens If Drywall Gets Rained On?
Water and, by extension, rain is the most common culprits of damage to sheets of drywall.
Even small amounts of moisture will leave drywall fragile and cause it to swell, crack, and become discolored.
Mold is another potential threat to drywall paper when dealing with moisture risk, especially in warmer temperatures.
Heat plus humidity is a recipe for disaster when storing drywall.
Whether or not wet drywall may be salvaged and used again depends on how much water has accessed it and for how long.
For example, if only a mild drizzle came in contact with your drywall and you managed to clean it off and transport it to a drier area pretty quickly, you’ll likely be able to let it fully dry out with minor issues.
However, if the drywall has been saturated with water for hours at a time, the damage done is more likely to be more severe and potentially even wholly irreversible.
Avoid using very fragile, crumbling, wet drywall or drywall which is still seriously damaged even after drying out completely.
Moisture isn’t always guaranteed to completely ruin drywall, but it’s extremely problematic if the boards are exposed to large amounts of water for long periods.
This is one of the main reasons why storing it in the right conditions is essential to ensuring its longevity and keeping drywall from warping, crumbling, or breaking.
Check out our article on acceptable moisture for drywall.
How Long Does Drywall Last In Storage?
How long your drywall will stay good in storage depends on the type/brand you’re working with and how well you’ve stored it.
Most drywall manufacturers claim their drywall will stay structurally sound and usable for anywhere from 9 to 12 months–if stored correctly.
Again, as we discussed earlier, keeping the drywall away from direct moisture, temperature fluctuations, and especially hot or cold temperatures is crucial to getting to most out of your boards.
In temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions, your drywall will likely be usable for around a year or so.
In addition to controlling temperature and humidity, the drywall needs to be stored off the ground, ideally on a rack if you plan to stack sheets.
Keeping plastic sheets in between the boards will also help preserve them for longer periods.
Leaning them up against a wall vertically isn’t recommended, as this puts extra pressure and stress on the boards and leaves the bottoms of the boards exposed to the floor and ground moisture, resulting in corners and scraps of drywall crumbling, leaving a mess behind.
Do Drywall Sheets Go Bad Or Expire?
Most normal drywall sheets don’t necessarily have an expiration date, but most manufacturers recommend completing your drywall installation within 9 to 12 months after buying it.
Drywall will deteriorate slightly over time with exposure to the elements and temperature fluctuations, so how well it is stored will dictate how long it stays “good.”
Even intermittent moisture exposure will potentially seriously damage drywall.
In ideal conditions, it’s possible to store new or leftover drywall for well over a year with no issues or noticeable damage, but leaving it uncovered or exposed to moisture or frigid temperatures will damage it much, much faster.
Generally, it’s recommended to store it carefully, or at least as well as you’re able to, and use it within about 6 to 9 months of purchase for best results.