Can I Use 3/8 Inch Drywall for a Ceiling?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Drywall is the most common material used for ceilings. However, some people question what thickness is most appropriate for ceilings. Sometimes, local building codes require a specific size; this is something you need to check.

If there is no building code requirement for ceilings in your area, you have a choice to make. The most common size used is ½ inch, although other sizes may be used for particular purposes.

Yes, you can use a 3/8″ drywall for a ceiling. To prevent sagging ensure ceiling frames supporting the drywall are 16″ apart. Do not apply water-based texture and do not support insulation with it.

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What Is Drywall?

Drywall is composed of plaster (consisting primarily of gypsum) mixed with fiber. This is sandwiched between layers of fiberglass mats and paper. It is an extremely timesaving material, and great for the average homeowner to make repairs with.

Optimal Drywall for Ceilings

Ceilings typically benefit from using thicker sheets of drywall; here are some situations for using different thicknesses.

ThicknessSpacing of Ceiling JoistsInsulation resting above
5/8” drywall24” apartyes
1/2″ drywall16” apartyes
3/8” drywall16” apartno

When 3/8 Inch Drywall Is Okay

3/8″ drywall is optimally used when patching holes or layering over an existing sheet of drywall. It is cheaper than alternatives but does not have the insulating qualities of thicker sheets.

Risks of using 3/8 Inch Drywall

If you do use 3/8″ drywall without following these precautions, your ceiling may sag from natural changes in moisture. This may also be provoked if you place weight on it from insulation or fixtures such as lights. You also cannot use water-based textures on drywall this thin without risking sagging.

Remove Old Drywall

To remove drywall from a ceiling, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the circuit breaker to the room and wear a dust mask. If you are repairing an older wall, be careful old paint can contain lead.
  • Remove any trim around the edge of the ceiling using a prybar. Work slowly from one end to the other.
  • Punch a hole through the edge of the ceiling with a hammer and chisel.
  • Use a saw and cut from one end of the ceiling to the other.
  • Pull down drywall as it becomes loose.
  • Remove drywall screws from the exposed joists. A drill/driver and an appropriate bit can make this job a lot easier.

The process for removing drywall from a wall is like that of removing old drywall. Remove the seam tape and floor molding first.

Drywall Installation

The general way to install drywall once you have chosen what kind you are using is this:

  • Measure the distance between your support beams on a roof; they are typically called ceiling joists.
  • Make marks on the walls or roof if you are placing sheets on the wall, that you can remove that show where the beams are located to attach screws to later.
  • Now connect drywall to the support beams using drywall adhesive on the beam.
  • Press the drywall onto the beam; using a panel lifter can help with this.
  • Drive special drywall screws that compress rather than cut the drywall to fix it permanently.
  • Then cover the seams between sheets using drywall joint tape and joint compound.

Alternative Option

If you need to cover an existing ceiling, you could attach drywall to the existing drywall. The advantage is avoiding the need for supporting insulation and tearing out the old drywall. The process of connecting it is similar, but here are the steps to follow:

  • First, use a stud-finder to locate the ceiling joists. You will need to support your new drywall sheets.
  • Proceed by connecting the drywall through the sheet you are inserting and the existing sheet into the stud.
  • Cover the seams between sheets the same as you would with standard drywall installation.

After You Have Installed Drywall

It is good to use primer on your drywall even if you plan on applying textures made for drywall. This makes it easier for the paint to bond and protect the drywall from moisture.

Drywall Textures for Ceilings

There are a wide variety of drywall textures used for ceilings. Some of the textures can be difficult to apply. So, if you are installing the drywall, you may want to consider the difficulty level of your choice.

Three quite common textures for ceilings are popcorn, knockdown, and orange peel.

  • Popcorn ceilings: As you may expect, this ceiling resembles popcorn. It is composed of small bumps. It is popular for the way it covers mistakes. Also, it absorbs sounds.
  • Orange Peel: This texture is also named for its look. Like an orange peel, its surface is wrinkly. The degree of texture may be light or heavy.
  • Knockdown Texture: This texture is remarkably similar to orange peel texture, but the wrinkles are not as pronounced.

Installing Different Textures of Drywall

Once your drywall is installed, here are some textures you can apply to make it look good. Just start by choosing a color of paint you like and mixing 10 parts with a one-part drywall joint compound.

For a stucco finish, just apply your premixed paint to the ceiling and press a damp sponge to it. Repeat this over your whole ceiling.

For a swirl pattern ceiling, apply your paint mix to the ceiling and use a brush to make a small circle in your roof. Make each ring a size you choose and repeat the pattern side by side across your whole ceiling.

For a popcorn finish, you will need to rent or purchase a drywall sprayer. Put plastic sheeting over all your wall and tape the sheeting up using painters’ tape. Next, follow the machine’s directions.

Repairing Damages on Different Textures of Drywall

If you want to replace the drywall, because it is damaged or unattractive, considering repairing or removing the texture alone. Here are some tips for different kinds of surfaces.

Popcorn texture is difficult to repair, but not too bad to remove. Soak the roof to prevent particles from getting throughout the air. (Be cautious and consider hiring a professional; some popcorn ceilings can contain asbestos.) Now scrape the texture off using a putty knife.

How Do I Paint Drywall?

If you want to paint your drywall here are some steps:

  • Fill in any imperfections with drywall mud.
  • Sand any filled-in areas with fine sandpaper. It is best to wear a mask while doing this.
  • Dust the drywall with a broom or a vacuum with a brush attachment.
  • Once the dust settles, clean the walls with a damp cellulose sponge.
  • Wait for the wall to dry.
  • Apply drywall primer to the drywall.
  • After the primer dries, wipe the wall with a dry cloth.
  • Apply two coats of paint to the wall.

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Related Questions

How to Repair Holes in Drywall?

First, make the hole an even square. Measure a piece of drywall and cut it to slide into the hole. Cover the seams with drywall joint tape and joint compound. For a small hole, just fill it in with Plaster of Paris or Spackle.

Is Drywall Fire-resistant?

Drywall contains gypsum, a chemical that is made up partially of water. The water can be released under heat, leaving behind the powder it was bonded with. This can cool down the material and resist fire.

How Do I Clean Drywall?

Dust the wall with a dry cloth. Then, use a damp drywall sponge to gently wipe the drywall. If you are cleaning a wall, wipe from top to bottom. After cleaning, dry the wall.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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