Types of Drywall
On our pages, we use the generic term "drywall" when talking about gypsum board. You will also hear it called "wallboard", or referred to by the brand name "sheetrock". It's got a gypsum core, with a coarse paper on the back, and a smooth paper on the finish side.
Drywall sheets come in 4'x8', 4'x10', 4'x12', and even larger. We recommend 4'x8' sheets for do-it-yourselfers; they're a little easier to work with.
For ceilings and walls with 16" on-center framing use standard 1/2" drywall. For 24" on-center framing, use 5/8" drywall.
For curved walls you want to use either 3/8" or 1/4" drywall. It usually requires wetting before forming on a curved wall. 1/4" drywall shouldn't be used as a single layer, but should be used over an existing surface.
Water-resistant drywall or "greenboard" has the same gypsum core as drywall, but it has a water-resistant facing. It is typically used in wet areas such as a bathtub or shower surround. It's not water-proof, however, and will deteriorate from moisture penetration.
Concrete backerboard, often called by the brand names "Durock" and "Wonder Board", is used as backing for ceramic tile. It has a solid concrete core and is faced on both sides with fiberglass. It's ideal for wet areas like shower walls and bathtub surrounds.
When nailing drywall into wood framing use ring shank nails. These hold into wood better, and will prevent "popping" later on. Standard length is 1-1/4" for 1/2" drywall, and 1-3/8" for 5/8" drywall.
When using a screw gun, use drywall screws. 1-1/4" screws are needed for 1/2" drywall, and 1-5/8" screws are needed for 5/8" drywall.
Types of Joint Compound
Joint compounds are available powdered or pre-mixed.
Powdered joint compounds come in different textures. Taping compound is used for the tape coat. It is stronger and courser than the compounds used for the finishing process. Topping compound is thinner and finer. It's used for the fill and finish coats, and for texturing.
All purpose joint compound is halfway between a taping and a topping compound. It comes pre-mixed and is a good choice for do-it-yourselfers.
Chemically setting compounds come in powdered form only. They are generally very strong and therefore difficult to sand. A do-it-yourselfer might use this to patch and fill gaps created when remodeling plaster for walls.