When building your dream home, renovating an existing property, or just concerned if your family is safe in a worst-case scenario, it may be helpful to know if drywall is fire-resistant. The short answer is all drywall is scientifical fire-resistant, but it's important to note that not all drywall is the same. Drywall (gypsum board) exposed to fire will respond according to its composition. In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know about drywall and when it comes in contact with fire.
Are Standard Drywall Sheets Flammable?
The composition of drywall consists of water and a soft, non-flammable mineral called gypsum placed between the outer sheets of paper. Water added to the drywall retards the process of heat moving through the drywall. When a fire is present, drywall is designed not to ignite immediately. Over time the heat will vaporize the water within while the drywall begins to char, causing it to lose its strength and stiffness by 50%. Once the water completely evaporates, the gypsum will heat up and eventually catch fire.
Defining Fire-Rated Drywall
First, it is important to understand that temperature does not impact or determine the fire resistance of drywall. The manufacturers have created drywall sheets with different characteristics that allow them to delay burning for specified periods, dependent on maintaining structural constitution and strength. Unfortunately, it can only delay the spread of fire, but educating ourselves about standard everyday drywall and fire-rated sheets will undoubtedly help when selecting the correct application for you and your next project.
Standard gypsum drywall is the most common type used in home construction. Half-inch sheets, also known as lightweight drywall, are the most used in construction today due to their versatility and manageability. Other sizes are offered, such as five-eighths inch, half-inch, three-eights inch, and quarter-inch sheets. All standard drywall panels are used for interior spaces and are ready to receive paint. All standard drywall can slow the burning potential for up to one hour.
Type X Drywall
One of two types of fire-rated drywall, Type X is manufactured with special additives to defend against radical molds, mildew, and fire. When a five-eighths sheet of Type X drywall is applied to both sides of a standard wood-framed building, it provides up to two hours of fire resistance.
Type C Drywall
The other fire-rated option is Type C drywall, which has fire-resistant qualities that can protect you for up to four hours from fire. Depending on your project needs Type C drywall provides superior fire resistance protection. Both products will have a smooth flat finish ready for cosmetic applications when properly installed.
Fire-Resistant Drywall, Do You Need it?
The added benefits of fire-resistant drywall increases the price by as much as 50%. When deciding how to protect your family or investment, we know fire-resistant Type X or Type C drywall will afford more benefits than Standard drywall. Time to vacate the property when it is on fire, insulating structural supports, and maintaining the building's integrity from extensive fire damage should become part of your consideration set when deciding where it is needed.
Architects and contractors will use standard drywall in low-risk areas to manage costs. Identifying high-risk fire hazard situations in your homes and business and using flammable materials should go into making wise decisions.
Garages, basements, kitchens, and bathrooms are all potential high-risk areas due to the use of electrical appliances, equipment, and flammable materials such as aerosols and gasoline. Therefore, most drywall contractors, architects, and homeowners consider using fire-resistant drywall for rooms with specific fire hazards and materials where fires most likely occur, to increase the cost-effectiveness of any construction project.
The effectiveness of drywall providing you with a fire-resistant barrier depends on proper installation. Drywall sheets are adhered to wood or metal studs using drywall screws. The gaps between each adjacent sheet may allow air, smoke, and the potential of fire to compromise the drywall if not correctly installed.
PatchMaster’s highly-trained technicians are skilled at installing and replacing any type of drywall. When it comes to protecting your home or office, having a trusted professional on your side is a must. Give us a call at 1-844-PATCH-MAN (US) or 1-833-WE-PATCH (Canada).