Can Drywall Be Used Around A Fireplace? (Explained!)

Drywall is known to handle heat well, but would this also mean that it’s ok to use Drywall in areas such as a Fireplace? If so, how close are you able to install it?

Regular Drywall should never be used around a Fireplace, but also Fire-resistant Drywall is not recommended because it’s not entirely fire-resistant, and it also violates the building code. Numerous alternatives adhere to the building code, such as concrete, stone, brick, tile, cast iron, marble, granite, legstone, or terracotta.

Even though Drywall is the cheapest option out there, it doesn’t mean you should be using it everywhere. Similar to other parts of your house, such as the basement, bathrooms, bathroom ceilings, or under Tongue and Groove. Using regular Drywall is not always the best option. The same thing goes for fireplaces. Even though you think of ignoring the building code, you may get away with it. Once you do have a fire outbreak stemming from the fireplace, you’ll instantly regret it.

Can I Use Regular Drywall Around the Fireplace?

Even though Drywall is considered a non-combustible material and can withstand a lot of heat, it still doesn’t mean that it won’t burn. Using regular Drywall around your fireplace is therefore not safe. In fact, fire-resistant Drywall is also not enough. 

Rather than using Drywall, there are other far better options, like stone, tile, or marble. These materials are durable and can retain heat for a long time, which makes them perfect for keeping your interior space warm.

Why Is Drywall Not Ideal Around Fireplaces?

Combustible materials

Some of the materials used for drywall sheets are paper and gypsum. While the latter may burn, the paper sheets can. If a fire outbreak occurs due to an accident or rising temperature, the fire may quickly spread to other parts of the house through the Drywall due to its combustible materials.

Code violations

Using Drywall around a fireplace is also a code violation. It’s not as durable as other materials; any sharp object can punch through it with enough pressure. This is why building experts trying to avoid sanctions will always advise against it, especially because of the combustible nature of drywalls.

Moisture damage

If you light your fireplace often, moisture from the air could be trapped under the floor tiles and behind the Drywall; this may lead to drywall soaking if this happens consistently. And when Drywall is soaked, it attracts mold and begins to rot, leading to eventual breakdown. 

This could affect the structure of your fireplace. And ultimately, it might potentially be a fire hazard. 

How Close Can Drywall Be To A Fireplace?

If you must have a fireplace inside your home with Drywall already set up, you must adhere to building codes. The approved distance between Drywall and fireplace is an additional inch for every 1/8 inch protruding drywall material. Always consult a specialist before you install a fireplace or Drywall in your home if one is already installed. And, of course, use fire-resistant Drywall. 

What Material Do You Use Around A Fireplace?

While drywalls are not good around the fireplace, there are convenient materials you can use as a perfect substitute, such as the following.

Steel: Steel is one of the most popular and best drywall substitutes for a fireplace. Steel is a very good heat-resistant material that can blend perfectly into your home’s interior. 

Concrete: Concrete is another very good material. It’s fire and heat-resistant and has a clean and natural finish. Concrete will blend with your interior outlay and is a good heat retainer during cold winters. It’s a resilient material that traps heat to keep your home warm for a while, even after the fire goes out. You can also paint the surface to reflect the color of your interior.

Stone: Polished stone adds a rustic charm to your interior in ways that only a few other materials can. Stones can trap heat, and they also warm up very fast too. However, the trapped heat is only released in spades, so your room will remain warm for a significantly longer period. Stone is non-combustible, so you have nothing to worry about.

Brick: Brick is the material of choice for a traditional fireplace. It’s warm, safe, and heat resistant. You also have the luxury of choosing any color you want since they come in different colors. Bricks walls are good options for your home.

Tile: If you want something more contemporary, you may opt for tile. Tiles give fireplaces a unique appearance. They come in different colors, shapes, textures, and sizes, meaning they can be used for any interior décor. The only downside is that tiles are more expensive than other options, but they are safe and don’t lose form for a long time.

Cast Iron: Cast Iron has long been the material of choice for generations. This battle-hardened material can withstand tremendous heat and is very durable. A cast iron fireplace can last several years, especially if you use it for the back panel. 

Marble: Marble is more attractive and appealing and can transform the appearance of your fireplace area from bland to exquisite in a way that Drywall can not. It’s not combustible but quite expensive and requires regular maintenance.

Granite: This is a popular open-hearth material used for all kinds of surfaces, including for walls and structures around fireplaces. You can install granite very close to your fireplace without breaking any code violation because, just like concrete, it has tremendous heat retention capabilities but is not combustible.

Legstone: Legstone is a popular floor-to-ceiling material for contemporary interior designs. Many home remodelers and homeowners use it for making their fireplace surrounds. Legstone is a thing stone strip joined together with other stone strips to form tiny ledges. Legstone structures are attractive and safe for homes.

Terracotta: Terracotta has been used for centuries to adorn structures; today, it’s still in vogue. Terracotta is common in Southern regions with humid weather but gradually finds its way up north to colder climes. If you want to give your fireplace area a different appearance, you can use Terracotta. There are handmade and machine-produced terracotta tiles with diverse tribal and abstract patterns. Not only will the tiles transform your interior, but they will also forestall any future fire outbreak emanating from the fireplace.

Wood Porcelain: Wood porcelain is another option. Although wood is not allowed by fire codes in some areas, wood covered with porcelain is allowed. They are sold in small tiles. Despite being more than 80% porcelain, they look like real wood. Wood Porcelain is safe.


Do You Need Special Drywall Around A Gas Fireplace?

Whether it’s a gas or a normal fireplace, Drywall is not a safe material to have around those areas. Most drywalls sold on the open market have combustible materials that may aid the spread of fire outbreaks. It’s best to avoid drywalls and use other fire-resistant materials like metal, tiles, concrete, etc.

Is There Fire Resistant Drywall?

Yes, there is fire-resistant Drywall. Common fire-resistant Drywall is Type X drywall. Type X is a 5/8 thick drywall with several layers. One of the base materials is glass fiber added to the board, which effectively slows down fire spread. Type X drywall also has a denser feel which is absent in normal gypsum paper drywall. Moreover, Type X takes a long time to degrade by fire.

Can I Use Cement Board Around A Fireplace?

Cement boards are compliant with fire codes because they are not flammable. If the board you use also has heavy tiles, that’s even better. But ensure that you don’t cover the board’s surface with a flammable material afterward; otherwise, the aim of having a safe covering for your fireplace will be defeated.

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