Drywall is an inexpensive and easy-to-install material commonly used to finish walls and ceilings. But there’s a major limitation to this versatile building material; it’s essentially hard paper and can fall short in terms of strength and water resistance. This begs the question, “Can you use regular drywall in a bathroom?”
Bathrooms are constantly wet and humid, so they need special materials that can withstand the elements. Unfortunately, regular drywall is porous. With regular exposure to water and moisture, it will succumb to damage, rotting, and molding.
That being said, not all drywall is the same. Some come with moisture and mold resistance properties that can work for bathroom walls and ceilings. Even so, extra work may be needed to ensure your bathroom walls are durable and reliable. Let’s find out more!
Can Regular Drywall Be Used in the Shower?
The question is not whether you can use regular drywall in bathrooms and showers but whether it’s a good idea. And no, it’s not recommended. Sure, regular drywall is cheaper and easy to install, but its value and water resistance fail in the long term.
Drywall is made of gypsum, which is then pressed between two thick sheets of paper. The problem is water negatively affects gypsum as it turns into a soggy paste when exposed to water or moisture.
The gypsum will soon break down even with the best ventilation and bathroom exhaust fan. Additionally, the materials used to make drywall make it porous and able to absorb water and moisture. This will happen even if you tile and grout over the drywall. The trapped moisture will cause the wood and paper in your walls to rot, leading to dangerous mold infestations.
Can You Waterproof Regular Drywall?
Most waterproofing materials will adhere to drywall with relative success. But this isn’t enough to fight against bathroom-scale moisture levels. No matter how high-quality the waterproofing material is, there’s a risk of failure. In the end, mold and mildew issues will likely arise, forcing you to rip out and replace drywall in the bathroom.
Does a Bathroom Need Special Drywall?
Yes, it does. If you have to use drywall for bathroom walls and ceilings, special types of drywall are often recommended for moisture-prone environments. These types of drywall are an improvement over standard drywall in terms of water resistance.
However, it would be best to avoid drywall altogether and use a waterproof material like cement board for areas in the bathroom that are more susceptible to direct water exposure.
Another tip for keeping bathroom materials durable and reliable is proper ventilation. Exhaust fans will help reduce moisture buildup and protect the drywall from excessive humidity.
But before settling on any building materials, it’s worth mentioning that building codes and regulations may vary by location. So, be sure to consult with local building authorities or professionals to ensure compliance with the specific requirements in your area.
What Kind of Drywall Do You Use in Bathrooms?
As mentioned earlier, not all drywall is the same. While you can’t use regular drywall for bathroom walls and ceilings, other types are designed for wet areas. These include:
Unlike regular drywall, green board drywall has a thicker paper exterior, making it more durable. It’s also treated with a water-resistant wax, thus providing more protection against mold, mildew, and moisture.
However, it’s not waterproof, meaning it can’t withstand heavy and prolonged exposure to moisture or water in the bathroom.
It’s best to use green boards for bathroom ceilings and non-shower walls. It’s also best to install a glue-on waterproof membrane, although this can be a lot of work.
Blue board drywall is also called plasterboard because of its use as a backing for plasterwork. It has mold- and moisture-resistant properties, which work for bathroom ceilings and non-shower walls. But you’ll have to apply some waterproofing to make the blue board waterproof. Luckily, it bonds well with adhesives.
This is another excellent option for high-humidity damp areas. It is moisture, mold, mildew, and fire resistant. In fact, it has one of the highest mold scores according to several ASTM tests, making it a great option for bathrooms, laundry rooms, shower surrounds, and other highly humid areas.
The purple board may cost more than the above types of drywall, but it’s definitely an enhanced version of regular drywall. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also GREENGUARD GOLD–certified for indoor air quality.
Using paper on the outer layer makes regular drywall unable to resist water and fire, thus causing damage problems and dangerous mold infestation in the long run.
But now, there’s a new trend of paperless drywall. This board uses fiberglass sheets on the outer layer instead of paper. This protects against water, moisture, fire, mold, and mildew even more. Keep in mind that it’s more expensive than other drywall styles and can be challenging to find in some areas since it’s not widely used as regular drywall.
Do Bathrooms Need Moisture-Resistant Drywall?
Using moisture-resistant drywall in bathrooms and other wet areas is generally recommended. These types of drywalls consist of a moisture-resistant core that helps prevent mold and mildew growth, which tend to thrive in damp areas.
Mold produces allergens. As such, inhaling or touching mold spores can cause allergic symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, coughing, wheezing, red eyes, skin rash, difficulty breathing, etc. Mold will also cause unsightly stains and unpleasant odors in your bathroom.
On the other hand, water and moisture can cause serious structural damage once they find their way into the walls, ceilings, or floors.
The best way to prevent these problems in your bathroom and house is to use materials specifically made to resist mold and moisture in the first place.
Remember that being water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. For most of the above drywalls, you may need to take additional measures to waterproof your bathroom properly. Otherwise, excessive and prolonged exposure to water and moisture can cause problems in the long run.
You also want to control moisture in your bathroom through proper ventilation, using a dehumidifier, or even investing in a bathroom exhaust fan.
Final Thoughts on “Can You Use Regular Drywall in a Bathroom”?
Choosing the right drywall for your bathroom is worth your time and money. Bathroom drywalls must be moisture, mold, and mildew resistant; otherwise, significant damage can occur. More work may be needed to waterproof spaces that come in direct contact with water, like the shower walls and tub area. Or you can go for waterproof materials like cement board.