Drywall, a staple of new-home building and renovations, is one of the most common building materials contractors use. More than 20 billion square feet of drywall is manufactured in North America annually, according to the Gypsum Association.
There are many reasons drywall, also known as gypsum board, has become the go-to building material for contractors and new-home builders. It’s lightweight compared to other materials, for example, and it provides passive fire resistance.
Spahn & Rose locations supply drywall to contractors throughout the Midwest, including Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. To help contractors and builders avoid material waste, here are five tips from the Gypsum Association for handling and storing drywall on the job site.
1. Lift to support weight. A typical gypsum panel is four feet wide, 12 feet long and a half-inch thick, and can weigh more than 80 pounds. Anyone lifting gypsum boards should work in pairs whenever possible and lift with their legs, not their back. When moving panels by hand, support them by the edges and don’t carry them flat.
2. Keep corners crisp. Preventing damage to the corners of drywall means easier and quicker installation and a better-looking finished product. To keep the corners of gypsum boards crisp, don’t drag the panels when moving them. Store drywall in lower-traffic areas to avoid incidental bumps and damage. If it must be stored in more heavily used areas, use corner protection or other precautions.
3. Store on a flat, uniformly supported surface. Because a stack of 25 sheets of drywall can weigh more than a ton, store it on a sturdy, structurally sound surface. Gypsum board shouldn’t be stacked on its edge. Limit a drywall stack to no more than 17 feet high, and avoid sagging by placing risers at even distances underneath any stack of drywall. To provide proper support, the distance between risers shouldn’t exceed 28 inches.
4. Protect drywall from the elements. Keep drywall out of any potentially wet environments. Gypsum board is a hydroscopic material, which means it can absorb moisture. Unless you follow manufacturer recommendations for outdoor storage to the letter, keep drywall inside, protected from the weather. Storage should be temperature-controlled; do not allow drywall to be exposed to temperatures higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Remove plastic shipping covering. When shipped on trucks or railcars, drywall is often covered in plastic. This is meant to protect it only during transit, though, not on the job site. The plastic can’t keep gypsum boards protected from rain or other high-moisture environments. In fact, keeping the plastic cover on may mean the drywall will become stained, sag or prone to mold.