It’s lightweight, blocks sound, cleans the air, resists mold, and can take a punch. Wallboard may look like it hasn’t changed in decades, but don’t be fooled. This market staple is getting plenty of value-added features that serve myriad applications.
Nine in ten building interiors are finished with the product, says Doug Gehring, marketing director at CertainTeed. That’s an average of 8,700 square feet for each single-family home, adds John Reale, USG’s senior vice president of marketing and consumer experience.
As housing picks up, builders will find opportunities to match drywall products to such needs as walling off master suites against outside noises, improving fire ratings between units in multifamily applications, and protecting the wall cavity with stronger boards in high-traffic areas.
Individual wallboard products already boast multiple features. CertainTeed’s AirRenew wallboard system , rolled out last year, absorbs formaldehyde and other VOCs from the air, breaking them down and storing them inside the wall through a process that’s effective for about 75 years, the company says. CertainTeed is adding abuse- and impact-resistant (Circle 45) versions to its AirRenew line. Both products are made from 100% recycled paper that’s treated to resist mold. Ideal for health care and educational facilities, these products are making inroads into multifamily construction and single-family homes, the company says.
National Gypsum’s fiberglass-faced, 5/8-inch Gold Bond e2XP Interior Extreme AR and IR gypsum panels meld mold and moisture resistance with properties that let the product stand up to abuse. The IR (for impact-resistant) line features the same enhancements as the AR (abuse-resistant) boards, plus a fiberglass mesh reinforcement to prevent wall penetration.
Adding fire resistance to lighter-weight 5/8-inch panels, Gold Bond High Strength Fire-Shield LITE 30 gypsum boards are approved for single- or multi-layer drywall construction for 30-minute fire-rated or non-rated assemblies and are 30% lighter than standard board.
Big Gains, Light Weight
Boards that weigh about 30% less than the standard but hold up to jobsite and individual-application stresses are on the rise. Builders can stack more on a truck while taking a load off their installation crew’s backs, and DIY-minded homeowners can more easily take on their own projects. Lighter boards can also help to lower transportation cost per product. “You’re actually able to get more onto a truck and possibly lower the amount of emissions that are going out for a product,” says Rebecca Serbin, associate product manager at Georgia-Pacific Gypsum. Introduced last May, the company’s GreenGuard-certified, ½-inch ToughRock lightweight board has kicked the company’s standard-weight ½-inch product out of some markets, she says.
American Gypsum’s ½-inch LightRocTM drywall panels rolled out last march. CertainTeed’s EasiLite ½-inch boards feature 100%-recycled face paper; both are GreenGuard-certified.
USG makes its Sheetrock UltraLight Panels up to one-third lighter than standard wallboard. They’ve been on the market for two years but make up more than 40% of the company’s wallboard shipments in the U.S., says USG’s Reale.