Best Drywall for Bathroom Walls and Shower Enclosures

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Imagine spending hours choosing the right bathroom fixtures, tiles, and color scheme, only to have moldy walls or water damage wreck your hard work! Worry less; the best drywall for bathroom use comes to the rescue, ensuring you have a sturdy, moisture-resistant bathroom that stands the test of time.

Now, you might be wondering why you specifically need bathroom drywall. Well, drywall usually comes in different types used for different purposes around the house. For example, the drywall in the bathroom and kitchen differs from the rest of the rooms.

What is Drywall?

Drywall, also known as gypsum board, plasterboard, buster boards, custard boards, or gypsum panels, is a building material for interior walls and ceilings. It consists of a layer of gypsum rolled between two sheets of paper.

Image Source: evolvinghome.co

Drywall is usually installed on the interior sides of walls and ceilings. The gypsum core is combined with paper-fiber, fiber-glass, a blend of these two materials, a foaming agent, plasticized, or some other material to stress the plaster, minimize flammability, and lower the possibilities of mildew and water absorption.

Furthermore, the gypsum core offers soundproofing and fire-resistance properties, while the paper surfaces provide a smooth and paintable finish.

Now that we understand what drywall is let's check out the best drywall for bathrooms.

1. Green Board Drywall

Green Board drywall is often used in bathrooms and other areas with high humidity. It is similar to regular drywall (White Board drywall), although it has a moisture-resistant paper facing, offering increased protection against humidity and moisture. Besides, the green covering sets it apart from regular drywall.

Image Source: builditfine.com

Although Green Board drywall is designed to withstand the moisture levels usually found in bathrooms, it's not intended for direct contact with water, like in shower areas. Also, it's important to note that even though the drywall is more moisture-resistant than regular ones, it's not entirely waterproof. Therefore, proper ventilation and other waterproofing measures like vapor barriers and tile are still recommended in your bathroom.

When installing the Green drywall in a bathroom, we recommend following local building codes regarding moisture and waterproofing control to ensure a long-lasting and water-resistant installation.

Pros:

  • It's easy to repair.
  • Easy to cut and install
  • It's moisture- and mold-resistant.
  • Suitable for bathroom wall installations
  • Ideal for lightly damp areas

Cons:

  • It's more expensive than regular drywall.
  • It's partially waterproof.
  • It's not fire-resistant and shouldn't be used in places with high-fire emergencies.

2. Purple Drywall

Another excellent option for bathroom installation is Purple Board drywall, also known as Purple drywall. This is similar to regular drywall and Green Board drywall, but it's much better than the green board model because it's resistant to moisture, mold, and mildew. The gypsum core of this drywall is fireproof, and the paper facing is treated with additives to improve its resistance to mold and mildew growth.

Image Source: builditfine.com

Purple Board drywall can be differentiated from other types of drywall by its purple color. On the other hand, this drywall is ideal for wet areas since it can contact water without developing any issues. As a result, it is a perfect option for areas that require improved mold and moisture resistance.

This drywall is more expensive than Green drywall. When installing it, we recommend following local building codes regarding moisture and waterproofing control to ensure a long-lasting, mold-resistant, and water-resistant installation.

Pros:

  • Relatively easy and fast to install.
  • It effectively resists moisture.
  • Fire-resistant drywall
  • It prevents mold and mildew growth.
  • Perfect for bathroom walls and ceilings
  • It can be utilized as a tile backer board in dry areas.
  • It features square-cut edges and a smooth finish.

Cons:

  • It's more expensive than regular and green board drywall.
  • It's heavy, making it difficult to DIY.

3. Cement Board Drywall

Cement Board drywall is extremely long-lasting and moisture-resistant, ideal for highly humid areas like bathrooms and showers. This drywall is made of cementitious materials mixed with reinforcing fibers, making a solid and stable panel. Besides, it provides resistance to mold, mildew, and moisture. Plus, it serves as a reliable tile installation substrate, offering a strong and waterproof surface.

Image Source: thespruce.com

Cement Board drywall is usually installed on bathroom walls and floors in areas exposed to water, such as tub surrounds or shower enclosures. It offers a reliable and water-resistant backing for tile or other decorative finishes. We recommend ensuring proper installation, including corners and sealing joints, to preserve waterproofing.

This drywall is available in different sizes and thicknesses, allowing for flexibility in application and design. It's a preferred option for bathroom installations thanks to its resistance to moisture, strength, and durability.

Pros:

  • It's moisture-resistant drywall.
  • It is resistant to mold growth.
  • It has inherent fire-resistant properties.
  • It acts as a reliable waterproofing substrate for tile installations in bathrooms.
  • It allows for flexibility in installation and design.

Cons:

  • It's a bit heavier compared to regular drywall.
  • It's more expensive than regular drywall.
  • Installation is complex.

4. Blue Board Drywall

Blue Board drywall, also known as Blue Gypsum Board or Plaster Baseboard, is designed for veneer plastering applications. The paper front is blue, which serves as a visual indicator that sets it apart from regular drywall.

Image Source: popcornremoval.com

This drywall has a blue-colored paper facing and a gypsum core, offering better moisture resistance than regular drywall. However, it's not as water-resistant as Purple Board, Cement Board, or Green Drywall. Its primary purpose is to provide a smooth and durable base for applying a veneer plaster finish.

We recommend considering other drywall options like the Green Board or Purple drywall if you want optimal moisture protection.

Pros:

  • It has some sound-dampening properties.
  • Relatively easy and fast to install.
  • It's easy to repair.
  • It enhances the aesthetic of the bathroom.

Cons:

  • It offers limited moisture resistance.
  • It's more expensive than other drywall options.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Drywall for Bathroom Walls

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best drywall for your bathroom. Here are some key considerations:

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Drywall for Bathroom Walls

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1. Moisture and Mold Resistance

As mentioned earlier, bathrooms are prone to moisture and high humidity. Therefore, we recommend looking for moisture- and mold-resistant drywall to withstand these conditions.

However, it’s important to note that although choosing mold-resistant drywall can help limit mold growth, it does not guarantee full mold prevention. Moisture management, proper ventilation, and regular cleaning and maintenance are still required to reduce the bathroom’s mold risk.

2. Waterproof Properties

Keep in mind that even moisture-resistant drywall can lack waterproof properties. Consider looking for drywall that is moisture-resistant and has waterproof properties. Alternatively, you can consider additional waterproofing measures such as using a vapor barrier, installing tile in wet areas, or applying waterproof paint, especially in the shower or bathtub areas.

3. Durability

When shopping for the best drywall for the bathroom, consider its durability. Installing drywall in high-traffic areas like the bathroom will subject it to various sources of potential damage, such as humidity, moisture, impact, and wear and tear. Therefore, opt for drywall that will still last longer even after exposure to such conditions.

4. Installation and Maintenance

Consider the ease of installation and maintenance of the drywall. Some types of drywall are easier to install than other options, such as cement board, which requires more specialized installation techniques.

Installation and Maintenance

Image Source: homeefficiencyguide.com

Keep in mind that although installing drywall can be a DIY project, hiring a professional contractor is recommended, especially if you don’t have experience or are unsure of the process.

5. Local Building Codes

Before buying the best drywall for your bathroom, enlighten yourself with the local building codes and regulations for installing drywall. Some areas usually have specific requirements for moisture or waterproofing.

Local authorities or municipalities set these local building codes and regulations to ensure construction projects’ structural integrity, safety, and compliance within their jurisdiction. Therefore, when installing drywall in your bathroom, follow these codes to ensure a safe and compliant installation.

6. Compatibility with Finishes

When choosing the best drywall for your bathroom, it’s critical to consider the compatibility of the drywall with the desired finishes, such as paint, wallpaper, or tile. Ensure that the drywall surface is suitable for adhesion or application of the desired finish.

Steps on How to Install Drywall in a Bathroom

Steps on How to Install Drywall in a Bathroom

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1. Prepare the Space

Ensure the bathroom is clean and debris-free and the framing is ready. Remove any old drywall or wall coverings if necessary.

2. Measure and Cut Drywall

Take accurate measurements of the bathroom’s walls and ceilings, where the drywall will be installed. Cut the drywall to size using a drywall saw or utility knife. Also, cut the openings for plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, and switches. We recommend measuring the distance to all four sides for circular cuts and using a compass to outline a precise circle before cutting.

3. Install the Drywall

If applicable, install the ceiling drywall first. Have someone help you hold the drywall sheets in place while you use drywall screws to attach them to the walls. Leave a small space between the sheets (about 1/8 inch) to allow expansion. Keep working on the walls, starting at one end and moving across. Cut the drywall to fit around any openings or other obstacles.

4. Tape and Mud the Seams

Spread drywall joint tape over the seams between the drywall sheets, and then use a taping knife to spread a thin coating of joint compound (mud) over the tape. To obtain a smooth finish, smooth off the mud, feather the edges, and allow it to dry thoroughly.

5. Sand and Repeat

Installing a Drywall In a Bathroom

Image Source: sunrisespecialty.com

After the initial layer of mud has dried, softly sand it to create a smooth surface. Apply several layers of joint compound, feathering each layer wider than before. Sand the surface between applications until it is even and smooth.

6. Finish and Texture

Depending on the desired look, you can apply texture to the drywall with a stipple brush, a trowel, or a texturing spray. Another option is to use extra coats of joint compound and sand between each layer for a smooth finish.

7. Prime and Paint

After the last application of the joint compound has dried and been sanded, prime and paint the drywall to prevent water damage. After the drywall primer has dried, you can paint the walls with bathroom-safe paint.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Drywall for Bathroom Walls

1. What Type of Drywall is Suitable for a Bathroom Shower?

We recommend installing cement board drywall in tile-covered wet applications such as bathtubs and showers.

2. What is the Best Wall Thickness in the Bathroom?

For residential construction, 1/2-inch-thick drywall is enough for the whole bathroom. The only exception is installing a green or concrete board around bathtubs and showers. The only place that thicker drywall is needed is in garage ceilings.

3. What Are the 6 Different Types of Drywall?

  • Regular drywall (also known as White Board) is the most popular type used on walls and ceilings in home and commercial projects.
  • Green board (also known as mold-resistant drywall) usually has a thicker paper backing than regular drywall and is wax-coated for improved moisture resistance.
  • A Cement Board is made of cementitious materials mixed with reinforcing fibers, making a solid and stable pane. It’s incredibly long-lasting and moisture-resistant, ideal for humid areas like bathrooms and showers.
  • Blue Board (also known as plasterboard) is mostly used as a base for plaster applications, similar to lath in lath and plaster walls.
  • Soundproof drywall: Although all drywalls have some soundproofing properties, soundproof drywall adds extra wood fiber, polymers, and gypsum to enhance the sound transmission class (STC) over that of white drywall.
  • Specialized fire-resistant drywall is commonly used in garages and basements around potentially explosive equipment.

4. Can You Tile Over Drywall?

In most home rooms, you can apply tile to drywall without any trouble so long as you start by adequately preparing the drywall and ensuring you have the right mortar for the project. It is reliable and safe, and it is what most contractors use.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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