Is 1/2 Drywall Really 1/2? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Anytime you work on a home improvement project involving Drywall, you must be aware that not all Drywall is created equal. In particular, the thickness of Drywall can vary quite a bit from one manufacturer to the next. So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means that when you’re buying Drywall, you must pay close attention to the thickness. Otherwise, you might end up with a product that isn’t quite what you expected.

Drywall sheets are tapered and slightly thinner than the middle, making it look like it’s not exactly ½ inch, but 1/2 Drywall is exactly 1/2 inch. It may sometimes have different measurements due to the structure of your selected panel.

It’s not uncommon for a difference of as much as 1/8 inch between two brands of 1/2 inch drywall. If you’re trying to achieve a certain look or finish your project, this can be a problem. But how common is this? Let’s find out. 

What Is The Actual Thickness Of 1/2 Inch Drywall?

1/2-inch drywall sheets are usually 1/2-inch (12.7mm) thick. In the construction trade, you’ll notice that most measurements (including Drywall’s thickness) are the exact size. If you are getting any other measurement, it might be due to the structure of your selected panel. It’s also important to note that Drywall sheets are sold in pairs, making them look thicker.

Generally speaking, the long edge of drywall sheets is tapered and slightly thinner than the middle, which may make it look like it’s not exactly ½ inch. Alternatively, as the butt edge is not usually tapered, you’ll get an exact 1/2-inch thickness. 

What Is The Difference Between 1/2 Inch And 5/8 Inch Drywall?

There are different types of drywall sheets available out there with a variety of specifications. 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch drywall sheets are the most popular. As their names suggest, 1/2-inch Drywall will be 1/2″ thick, while 5/8-inch Drywall will come with a thickness of 5/8″.

The right choice of drywall thickness will depend on your purpose. For residential properties, 1/2-inch Drywall is the most commonly used. Alternatively, builders prefer 5/8-inch for commercial properties as this one is more durable and stronger.

To help you make the right decision, below, we have provided a complete features comparison between 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch drywall panels:

Versatile Use

Both drywall thicknesses can be used in any renovation project. Although 5/8-inch Drywall is commonly used for commercial properties, you can also use 1/2-inch Drywall for commercial places (It is not advised to use 1/2-inch for commercial purposes).

That being said, 5/8-inch drywall panels are more flexible and convenient to work with than 1/2-inch sheetrock. They are more durable and long-lasting. So you don’t have to worry about cracks or failure during drywall installation.


The cost comparison is necessary as well. Usually, the 5/8-inch Drywall comes with an expensive price tag compared to the 1/2-inch sheetrock. In addition, the total drywall installation cost (including material cost and labor cost) for 5/8-inch panels will be relatively higher than the 1/2-inch drywall sheets.

Fire Resistance

Both 1/2-inch and 5/8-inch drywall panels are made of gypsum – a non-combustible mineral. So, both of these variations will provide fire resistance to some degree but might still catch on fire. Comparatively, as 5/8-inch Drywall has more gypsum, it offers better fire resistance than 1/2-inch Drywall. If you’re interested to know if you can use Drywall around a fireplace, this article will be of help.

Water Resistance

Water resistance depends upon the type of Drywall. For instance, if you compare 5/8-inch regular sheetrock to 1/2 moisture-resistant drywall (The Greenboard), the 1/2-inch Drywall will certainly provide better water resistance. This also means using regular 1/2-inch Drywall in your bathroom might not be such a good idea.

However, if you compare a 1/2-inch green board and a 5/8-inch green board, the 5/8-inch Drywall will undoubtedly provide better protection against water leakage issues. 


Compared to plywood, which has a little higher R-value, Drywall generally has a low R-value – resistance to heat flow. While 1/2-inch Drywall comes with an R-value of 0.5, 5/8-inch Drywall has an R-value of 0.5625. So, both of these sheets offer insulation but to a bare minimum.

What Drywall Thickness Do I Need, and For What Purpose?

You can get 1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 5/8-inch. These panels come in different sizes as well. The most common drywall size is 4×8. For wider rooms, you can also get a 4×12 drywall.

Here are some of the most common drywall thicknesses and their purpose:

1/2-Inch Drywall

When it comes to popularity, no other type can beat the 1/2-inch Drywall. This one is usually used for residential properties and can be used on both walls and ceilings. You can get 1/2-inch Drywall in different variations, including

  • 1/2-inch Regular Drywall
  • 1/2-inch Greenboard
  • 1/2-inch fire-resistant Drywall (Type X sheetrock)

Normally, a single layer of 1/2-inch Drywall is used over wood or metal framing spans 16 inches or less. However, you can also use two layers of these panels for added soundproofing and fire resistance properties. 

As 1/2-inch drywall panels are quite thin, they are easy to manipulate, allowing them to blend easily with your home’s architecture.

1/4-Inch Drywall

1/4-inch drywall panels are quite rare. As these sheets are extremely thin, most builders try to avoid them. Generally, 1/4-inch Drywall is used as a skimming material. You can use these panels over an existing wall to complete the renovation project quickly.

For instance, you can use 1/4-inch Drywall over an existing ceiling, meaning you don’t have to remove the old texture and waste your time since Drywall ceilings can last for a long time. If you cannot get other thicknesses, you can always use two layers of 1/4-inch Drywall to give you 1/2-inch thickness. 

3/8-Inch Drywall

3/8-inch Drywall is also not that common. This is because these types of sheetrock panels have quite limited use. Most builders use 3/8-inch Drywall for interior enclosures, such as pantries, closets, and backing for paneling

The cost of a 3/8-inch Drywall is the same as the 1/2-inch sheetrock. So, instead of 3/8-inch Drywall, it’s best to stick with 1/2-inch panels. Nevertheless, you can use these panels for weight reduction as they are less heavier than 1/2-inch drywall sheets. 

5/8-Inch Drywall 

5/8-inch Drywall is nothing if not versatile. You can use these sheets everywhere, including basements and garages. They are perfect for commercial use and come with an extra fiber layer, ensuring durability and strength. 

While 5/8-inch Drywall provides better fire-resistant than 1/2-inch sheetrock, this variation is commonly used for soundproofing a certain room. Due to the added thickness, 5/8-inch Drywall is less prone to denting and capable of hiding imperfections.

Drywall ThicknessPrimary Purpose
1/2″ DrywallIdeal for residential properties. It can be used on walls and ceilings.
1/4″ DrywallMainly used as a skimming material for an existing drywall
3/8″ DrywallUsed for interior exposures. Perfect for weight reduction
5/8″ DrywallCan be used on both residential and commercial properties.

If you wish to know how to calculate the size and thickness of your garage, I have an article that explains just that.


How To Measure Drywall Thickness?

You can use a tape measure to determine the thickness of the Drywall. If you want to measure the thickness of the damaged Drywall that needs to be replaced, cut a hole in the sheet and then use the tape measure. 

Can 1/2 Drywall Be Used On Ceilings?

Yes, 1/2 drywall can be used on ceilings as long as you work on a residential property. The local building code requires you to use 5/8-inch Drywall on the ceiling for commercial use.

Can You Use 1/2 Inch Drywall For Walls?

1/2-inch drywall panels are commonly used to cover interior walls. This is because they are fairly easy to carry and hang. You can even get lightweight 1/2-inch Drywall if the weight is a concern. For exterior walls, make sure to use 1/2-inch moisture-resistant drywall panels.

Are All Drywall the Same Thickness?

No, not all drywall panels have the same thickness. This wall-covering material is available in 1/2-inch, 1/4-inch, 3/8-inch, and 5/8-inch. The thicker a drywall, the more durable and stronger it will be. However, when it comes to Drywall, stronger does not always mean better. So, pick a perfect variation for your renovation project instead of buying the strongest Drywall!

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