Drywall panels are used to finish the interior walls and ceilings of buildings. The panels vary in size and thickness and are typically attached to wooden beams and studs. There are many different types of panels, including ones that provide water proofing and sound proofing.
Standard drywall panels consist of a gypsum interior and a thick paper exterior. Gypsum, also known as calcium sulphate dihydroxide, is a compound mineral that occurs naturally in nature. Panels are installed and finished off with compound before painting, to allow for a smooth and seamless finish. Although smooth finishes are the standard, drywall panels also allow for textured finishes.
Drywall panels are available in 4 by 8 foot (1.2 by 2.4 meter) sheets as well as 4 by 12 foot (1.2 by 3.6 meter) sheets. The smaller panels are the ones most commonly used in construction because they are easier to transport. The panels also range in thickness from 1/2 to 5/8 inch (1.27 to 1.58 cm). The first is most often used on walls while the latter is typically used on ceilings.
In addition to standard drywall, panels known as green board are used in areas exposed to a high degree of moisture, like bathrooms and basements. Although the panel exteriors are still covered in paper, the paper is much thicker and resistant to moisture and water. The panels are also coated in wax to help prevent water retention. These drywall panels can help prevent mold from accumulating in an area where moisture is present.
Another type of drywall available is sound proofing drywall. Instead of the standard interior, the inside of soundproofing drywall panels is a combination of products. The exterior is still standard paper but the interior consists of ceramics, viscoelastic polymers and gypsum. Sound proofing drywall can provide sound dampening to the equivalent of eight to ten standard drywall panels.
Some buildings that require additional fire proofing use fire rated drywall panels. In these panels, fiber strands are added to the gypsum to increase the life of a drywall panel when facing the threat of fire. Similar panels are used in areas exposed to heavier use like dorm rooms. In addition to the fiber, the exterior paper coating is also made thicker.
Special drywall panels are also used in rooms exposed to x-rays and radiation. In these panels, 1/16 inch (1.58 mm) of lead is placed between the paper exterior and the gypsum interior, which inhibits radiation from passing through the walls into other spaces. These panels are most commonly found in doctor's offices and hospitals.