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A Quick Buying Guide to Drywall and Fastener Types

Updated: Apr 19

Discover why selecting the right drywall type and fasteners is crucial for creating durable and visually appealing walls to start building today.

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Most Popular Drywall Types:

  • 4'x8 Ultralight, 1/2" Standard Home Depot

  • 4'x8' Ultralight, 1/2" Mold Resistant Home Depot

  • 4'x8', 5/8" Fire Resistant

  • Other: 4'x8' Ultralight 1/2" Imperial Gypsum Base for Veneer Systems Home Depot

  • Other: 3'x5', 1/2" Cement Board for Wall Tile Home Depot

Most Popular Fasteners:

Next Steps:

How to Save Money Installing Your Own Drywall


Drywall Thickness and Sizes

Drywall thicknesses range from 1/4" to 5/8." Your selection will depend on building codes for specific applications (such as fire rated walls), type of room (humid environments like a bathroom), or backup condition (wood framing versus old plaster). Here are the common uses for each:

1/4" is intended to be laminated over an existing surface, for repair, or bent to curves (and doubled up to create a 1/2" assembly). This thickness is not strong enough to be used alone.

3/8" was the former standard which has been replaced by 1/2." Its current function is now most similar to 1/4". For repairs, certain thicknesses may better suit specific existing conditions of the wall (particularly with uneven plaster and lath).

1/2" is the most commonly used thickness is residential applications with stud framing at 16" on center. It offers a good balance of strength and weight and is considered to be the most versatile.

5/8" is heavier, and is typically reserved for special applications to resist sagging on ceilings, enhance soundproofing, or provide special fire ratings.

Drywall sheets come in 4'x8' or 4'x12' sheets. 4'x8' is standard and for DIY home renovation projects it is unlikely you will ever need to consider the latter.

Drywall Type Will Depend on the Room

Standard or "White Board": for dry areas such as bedrooms, living spaces, hallways.

Moisture Resistant, Mold Resistant, "Green Board" or "Purple Board": a special coating deters moisture and helps inhibit mold growth, which makes this appropriate for humid or moisture-prone interior spaces such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, or basements. This board can also used as tile backup in dry spaces such as kitchens. "Purple Board" is proprietary to the manufacturer Gold Bond and boasts slightly higher resistance qualities.

Plaster Backboard or "Blue Board:" also moisture resistant, but specifically intended to be bonded with "veneer plaster." Rather than mudding or taping the drywall seams, the entire surface of the boards must be skim coated in plaster compound prior to painting and is considered a more high end and durable finish when executed correctly.

Type "X": for areas requiring a special fire rating (and thus typically comes in 5/8" thickness), such as attached garages with shared interior walls. Refer to your local building codes for areas requiring rated partitions.

Other - Cement Board, "Durock," or "Hardie Backer": If you've ever seen or touched it, you probably immediately noticed the difference between cement board and drywall. It's extremely hard, contains no organic materials, and is ridiculously, ridiculously heavy. Thus, it serves as an ideal and most standard underlayment for tile (porcelain, ceramic, stone) set with mortar on floors (1/4" thickness) or walls (1/2" or 5/8") in wet areas such as shower or tub surrounds.

Fastener Guide

Understand how the main features of Length, Gauge and Thread Type apply to your specific conditions:

Length: Your desired length is driven by the overall material thickness that must be fastened back to the substrate plus sufficient bite into the substrate itself. Longer screw options within appropriate range will be more difficult to drive but offer better holding strength. For example, using 1/2" drywall, the choice of 1 5/8" screws on the ceiling is recommended.

  • For 1/4" drywall: Use 1" to1 1/4" drywall screws

  • For 1/2" drywall: Use 1 1/4" or 1 5/8" drywall screws

  • For 5/8" drywall: Use 1 5/8" or 2" drywall screws

  • For 1/2" cement board: Use 1 5/8" star drive serrated head cement board screws. Cement board screws have a special coating to resist corrosion from moisture and a unique design to create a more secure grip relative to the density of the cement board material.

Gauge: The gauge of the fastener is typically indicated as the number directly following the length and represents the diameter of the screw shank itself, independent of the threads. The most common gauges for drywall screws is either #6 or #8. There is a direct relationship between gauge and length of screw as well as gauge and density of material.

  • #6: For a DIY'ers intents and purposes, this is the common gauge for drywall screws when fastening 1/2" drywall to wood studs.

  • #8: Common gauge when fastening 5/8" drywall to wood studs.

  • #9: Typical gauge for cement board fasteners.

Thread Type:

  • Coarse: Use with wood stud framing. The threads on coarse screws will be further apart and are longer, which makes them more appropriate for biting into wood substrates.

  • Fine: Use with metal framing. The threads on fine screws will be tighter together and sharper, which is ideal for secure grip with metal surfaces.

With These Powers Combined...

In summary, here is a matrix of the different types of drywall and fasteners you may need based on your existing conditions. Happy installing!

Existing Plaster or Drywall Underneath

Open Stud Framing (Wood)

Patching Plaster and Lath

Dry Location

1/4" Standard Drywall

1/2" Standard Drywall

Varies, often 3/8" Standard Drywall

Fastener length depends on thickness of substrate before reaching stud construction. Consider 2" #8 Drywall Screws

1 1/4" or 1 5/8" #6 drywall screws

1 1/4" #6 drywall screws

Humidity-Prone Environment

Remove Existing and Install 1/2" Moisture Resistant Drywall

1/2" Moisture and Mold Resistant Drywall

Varies, often 1/4" or 3/8" (which only comes in Standard)

1 1/4" or 1 5/8" #6 drywall screws

1 1/4" or 1 5/8" #6 drywall screws

1 1/4" #6 drywall screws

Wet Locations (Showers, Tubs)

Remove Existing and Install Cement Board

1/2" Cement Board


1 5/8" Cement Board Fasteners

1 5/8" Cement Board Fasteners


Rated Location

Check Code For Required Assembly

Check Code For Required Assembly, Consider 1 5/8" Type X

Check Code For Required Assembly

Varies by Assembly Depth

Varies by Assembly Depth, Consider1 5/8" or 2" drywall screws

Varies by Assembly Depth

Additional Acoustical Needs

1/4" Standard Drywall

5/8" Type X Drywall


Fastener length depends on thickness of substrate before reaching stud construction. Consider 2" #8 Drywall Screws

1 5/8" or 2" drywall screws


High End Finish with Moisture Resistance

N/A. Plaster is comparable!

4'x8' Ultralight 1/2" Imperial Gypsum Base for Veneer Systems



1 5/8" star drive serrated head cement board screws



Next Steps:

How to Save Money Installing Your Own Drywall


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