Is It Ok to Use 1/2 Drywall on Ceiling? (Read This First!)

So you’re in the middle of a DIY project and unsure if using 1/2 drywall on your ceiling is the right move. Maybe you’re trying to save money, or you just don’t think you need the thick stuff. But before you go ahead with your project, you should know a few things about using 1/2 drywall on your ceiling. 

You can use ½ Drywall on ceilings for residential properties unless you have wider joist spacing and the fire code recommends it. Commercial buildings should always be ⅝ Drywall, also known as the “firewall drywall.”

Some professionals would tell you to use ½ Drywall, while others would not. Both can be right because it ultimately depends on other factors, such as the joist spacing. 

Can You Use 1/2 Inch Drywall on the Ceiling?

Wider joist spacing and fire codes might recommend using thicker drywall panels, but 1/2-inch Drywall is technically possible for ceiling applications. This thickness is mostly used for residential properties for both interior walls and ceilings.

A lot of builders will recommend using 1/2-inch Drywall because this thickness is easy to carry and hang and lasts for a long time. Compared to 5/8-inch Drywall, 1/2-inch sheets are lightweight and easier to handle. You can even invest in ultra-light sheets depending on your desired drywall type.

If you’re taking on the renovation project independently, your best pick is 1/2-inch Drywall measuring 4 by 8 feet. These panels weigh around 57 pounds, which is the heaviest and largest size any DIYer can lift and handle on their own. If you want to know more about Drywall weight, check out this article

You can also check out our article explaining “Is 1/2 drywall really 1/2?“. The article covers all the necessary topics, including the actual thickness of a 1/2” drywall and the types of drywall panels.

What Happens If You Use 1/2 Inch Drywall On Ceiling?

You can hang 1/2-inch Drywall on both walls and ceilings. However, 5/8-inch is the recommended option. In fact, this is the most common thickness of Drywall used to cover ceilings – especially for residential properties. But if you were to hang 1/2-inch Drywall on your ceiling, you might have to replace it due to sagging. This is the main difference between the two Drywalls.

That being said, using 1/2-inch Drywall on commercial property is not recommended. For commercial use, you should invest in 5/8-inch Drywall. This is because while 1/2″ Drywall is more inexpensive than 5/8″ panels, it is also less rigid and durable.

Before purchasing a drywall type, you should check out the local building code. LBC does not permit you to use 1/2″ drywall for residential property. You can use it on both walls and ceilings. Alternatively, you must invest in 5/8-inch Drywall for commercial use.

Building Code Requirements for Ceilings (Commercial Property)

For residential properties, you can use 1/2-inch Drywall on ceilings. However, that’s not the same for commercial use. You can use 1/2-inch Drywall only on walls if you are renovating a commercial building.

Even if a certain building has non-fire-rated requirements, you should still buy 5/8-inch Drywall. This is because 5/8-inch Drywall is more durable and rigid. If the building code requires you to install fire-rated panels, you must get 5/8-inch fire-resistant Drywall, also known as Type X drywall. It is also important to note that even though these panels can handle much heat, they can still catch fire.  

How Far Can 1/2 Drywall Span On A Ceiling?

On average, Drywall can span around 24″ horizontally without any support. This practice allows you to create a small soffit up to 24″ without using any framing. All you need is a board at the intersection of the Drywall and a board at the joists.

The common distance between ceiling trusses is 24 inches. As the drywall board is applied directly to the bottom chord of the truss (the framing member), 24″ is the limit. If you are using other thicknesses, such as 3/8″, you will experience noticeable sag between the ceiling framing members.

What Size Drywall Should Be Used On Ceilings?

Although you can use any drywall variation (even 1/4-inch-thick Drywall) over ceilings, it is recommended to use thicker panels. So, 5/8-inch drywall types are the best option for ceilings available out there.

You can use 5/8-inch Drywall on both residential and commercial projects. This type is more durable and sturdier, preventing sagging and providing extra strength. This extra strength allows you to use heavier textures (such as popcorn) on the ceiling panels.

Here are some of the potential benefits of using thicker Drywall on ceilings:

Prevents Sagging

Sagging Drywall indicates a problem that needs to be fixed immediately. Even though it adds shoddiness that no room needs, sagging can also decrease the actual lifespan of Drywall. It can lead to several additional problems, including moisture damage and mold growth.

Sagging in the ceiling is mostly caused by undersized panels. So, if your existing Drywall has pillowed, you’ll need to replace it with 5/8″ drywall panels. Luckily, you can install new 5/8-inch Drywall directly over an existing one to avoid mess and extra work.

If you have sagging, this shows that the previous installer did not really know what he was doing. Because if he did, he’d also know when to use 1/2-inch Drywall and 1/8-inch one.  

Better Fire Resistance

If your building has fire-rated requirements, you must invest in special fire-resistant drywall sheets, aka Type X drywall. Type X drywall comes with a 5/8-inch thickness. It might be a little expensive, but it offers better fire resistance than any standard 1/2-inch drywall.

Improved Insulation

All building materials (even the thinnest regular Drywall) offer insulation to some degree. However, thicker panels improve insulation as well. For instance, while 1/2-inch Drywall comes with an R-value of 0.5, a 5/8-inch gypsum board features an R-value of 0.56. You may be interested that Plywood has a higher R-value than Drywall.


5/8-inch drywall panels are commonly used for soundproofing a certain room. These sheets have a higher volume of gypsum, so they can help with different types of sounds, including a radio playing and people talking.


Can I Use 1/4 Inch Drywall On Ceiling?

You can use 1/4-inch Drywall over existing ceiling drywall. With this approach, you don’t have to put additional work into removing the texture of your Drywall. In addition, you can also use 2 layers of 1/4-inch Drywall on the ceiling to get properties of 1/2-inch Drywall.

Ceiling Drywall 1/2 Or 5/8?

The better option is 5/8-inch drywall panels for ceilings. 5/8-inch sheetrock might be a little expensive, but it will provide extra strength, prevent sagging, and resist fire better than a 1/2-inch drywall panel.

What Size Drywall For 10-Foot Ceilings?

You can use 4×8 size drywall over 10-foot ceilings. If you need to cut your Drywall, make sure to place cut edges into corners to avoid joints. Also, screw drywall fasteners (which can hold a lot of weight) through the panel into the bottom of the ceiling joists every 8 inches.

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