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Can You Use Drywall for Shower Walls? (How To)

Drywall is the most common material used on walls to finish them. Can it be used in the shower?

It is not recommended to use drywall in the shower compartment. Drywall is not a very strong material, and using some type of waterproof option, such as a green board, is better.

Shower wall with drywall

Most people are going to tell you that you should not use drywall in the shower. As a general contractor, I told people they should avoid this at all costs.

When you get right down to it, however, some options may make it possible to use drywall in the shower. It will take some extra work, but if it is your option, and if it’s in your budget, it may be possible if you take the proper steps.

It is not recommended to use drywall in the shower because drywall doesn’t stand up well to moisture. As long as you can contain the drywall so that water doesn’t get into it, that will not be as big of a problem.

The difficulty is that you will not know if moisture is getting to the drywall until problems occur. As we will discuss below, some of those problems can be quite significant.

In addition, there are some reasons why it may be possible to use drywall in the shower enclosure, but you need to consider the type of drywall you are using. Some drywall is labeled as water-resistant. Is that the best option?

If you are set on using drywall in the shower, then some type of water-resistant option will be the best choice. Remember that water resistance means that it resists water but is not waterproof.

You can’t expect water-resistant drywall to stand up against an excessive amount of moisture, so any direct contact with water will be problematic. That shouldn’t be a problem if everything is sealed correctly and the rest of the wall adds extra protection.

Essentially, a drywall finish will not be the best choice for use in the shower. However, if you have it behind some tile, it can work well, provided you keep the tile and grout in good shape.

Ultimately, it is up to the homeowner to decide if they want to take a chance. Using drywall in the shower is a bit of a risk, and it should not be taken lightly.

If you have the material available and want to save some money by cutting this corner, you are capable of doing so. Just be aware that you may need to do some repairs before too long, especially if moisture gets behind the tile and into the drywall.

Should You Use Drywall for Shower Walls?

tools use for drywall

As you have already surmised, there are better choices than drywall in the shower enclosure. Understanding the difficulties associated with using drywall for shower walls can help you avoid the problems if possible.

Here are the main things to consider:

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 25, 2023.

Moisture: Obviously, moisture is going to be the biggest problem when it comes to using drywall in the shower. The gypsum board will soak in water very quickly, leading to a wide variety of problems.

The primary problem with moisture is that it deteriorates the drywall from the inside out. If too much water gets into the drywall, it will melt away and crumble. This is going to cause the need for a lot of repairs.

Mold: One of the most frightening issues associated with owning a home is the possibility of mold growth. Mold exists in every house, and it is perfectly normal for it to do so. But when it begins to concentrate and grow in one area, it can be a big problem.

Mold not only eats away at the drywall itself but can also make your entire family sick. If you get the worst type of mold, black mold, you may find that you are experiencing some severe problems and symptoms.

Mold needs three things to grow: food, moisture, and air. When you install drywall in the bathroom shower and water gets to it, you provide the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow.

Joints: It isn’t only a problem with the drywall itself. You also need to consider the joints. Joints are where water tends to enter the drywall more readily, and it is also an area that quickly succumbs to water damage.

Most joints in drywall are filled with a drywall compound. When it gets wet, it turns back into the wet version of the drywall compound again. It will not hold up to water but, instead, will just continue to soak in more water, and eventually, it will soak into the drywall itself.

Even the paper associated with drywall joints will not hold up well if it is exposed to water on an ongoing basis. You can lower the risk by using mesh, but even then, you are exposing the drywall compound to moisture more readily.

Durability: When you compare drywall to other common building materials used in wet areas and the shower, you will see the drywall doesn’t stand up well. As the drywall continues to get wet regularly, it will crumble.

On the other hand, a cement board or tile can work quite well in the area. They will stand up to a lot of moisture and even repel the water, not allowing it to soak in.

Of course, even cement boards or green boards can have problems with mold and moisture. Sealing everything is essential to protect the wall.

Those are the primary issues associated with using drywall for the walls in the shower. If you take the following steps and consider all the problems, you can use drywall confidently.

What Preparations Do You Need to Use Drywall for Shower walls?

Man putting drywall

Preparation has always been the key to success, which is also true when hanging drywall in the shower. It may take longer to prepare for the process, but it will be worth it because the drywall will last a long time.

1. Wallcovering Removal: Before installing drywall in the shower, all of the old wallcovering material must be removed. Whether it is a green board, tile, or anything else, it should be removed from the house.

This isn’t only something that will prepare the way for the drywall, it also allows you to see what is happening behind the wall and take appropriate measures. It could be a matter of doing mold remediation or perhaps just cleaning things up and preparing for the new installation.

This inspection process should not be overlooked. Be cautious when doing the inspection, and take your time to ensure that there are no issues that will continue to grow after the drywall is installed.

2. Blocking: Any areas containing showerheads or other obstructions should be blocked at this point. Blocking provides the anchor necessary for the drywall and for the plumbing fixtures.

Applying the blocking at this point allows you to do so while the wall is still free and clear. If you wait until you start hanging the drywall, space will be limited.

3. Moisture Barrier: A waterproof membrane of some sort needs to be applied behind the drywall to the studs. The barrier will keep any moisture from coming in behind the drywall and causing invisible damage.

Admittedly, the amount of water that comes in from behind the drywall will be minimal. At the same time, however, if you don’t prepare for it in advance, it will likely be a problem at some point.

How to Use Drywall for Shower Walls

Man putting drywall

The area is now adequately prepared, and you are ready to install the drywall. It is installed very similarly to how drywall is installed in any other area in the home.

1. Measure and Cut: Measure the area carefully and cut the drywall using a utility knife. After marking the drywall, cut the paper on the outside of one side. You can also cut slightly down into the gypsum.

After making the first cut, tilt the drywall up on its edge and use your knee to break the drywall at that point. It will snap along that line because it is the path of least resistance.

You can now cut through the drywall completely using the utility knife. Be cautious not to cut your fingers because the blade will be sticking out in areas that aren’t easily seen.

PRO TIP: Use a rasp to clean up the cut edge. Doing so will make the install much easier

2. Install Panels: The drywall panel should be installed from the bottom up. Use galvanized screws to attach the panel to the stud.

Don’t overdo it when it comes to applying the screws. In addition, you can use a drywall screw attachment on your cordless drill to ensure that you aren’t breaking the paper.

Install the panel so cut edges are hidden in the corners. Don’t allow the cut areas to be in the middle of the wall.

3. Prime and Paint: Even if you use tile in the shower enclosure, you should prime and paint the drywall. Doing so will provide an extra layer of moisture barrier.

4. Seams: The seams in the panel should be filled with drywall compound. You can use mesh waterproof tape rather than standard drywall tape. After smoothing the mud, allow it to dry and sand it until smooth.

5. Tile: Although it is possible to leave the painted surface, it is generally recommended that you use tile. Tile will provide one more layer of protection to keep moisture from coming in contact with the drywall.

Drywall is not recommended for use in the shower enclosure, but it can be used cautiously with the proper preparation and finish. Drywall is susceptible to moisture, so if it gets wet, it will quickly deteriorate.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 25, 2023.

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