R-Value of Drywall Vs Plywood: A Complete Guide

One of the most important aspects to consider when selecting a material for your home is its insulation value. The two options, plywood and Drywall have very different abilities in this regard; one is better than another, depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish with them. 

Plywood has a higher R-value than drywall and is insulating better. You still need to insulate your house, even with plywood or drywall. You can use Foam Boards, Fireglass Wool, Polyethylene Bubbles, and Cellulose Fiberglass.

So, which has a better R-value for your project, and how can you find out their ability to insulate your home?

What Is A Good R-value For Walls?

For exterior walls, it’s recommended to maintain an R-value between R-13 and R23. R-49, R-38, and R-30 are common for attic spaces and ceilings.

You may not be able to find a wall-covering material with a higher R-value. In that scenario, you’ll need to use insulation materials (soft foam and fiberglass) to increase the R-value of your wall!

What Is The R Value Of Drywall?

On average, the R-value of drywall can fall anywhere between R-0.45 to R-0.6. Which is considerably lower than the recommended R-value a house should have.

A 1/2-inch drywall panel features an R-value of 0.45. It might not seem like a lot, but most of the earthen materials (rocks, dirt, and concrete) also have a smaller R-value. Alternatively, the R-value of 5/8-inch drywall is around 0.56. This is minimal when you compare drywall to a 4-inch wall cavity with added insulation (R-15).

It’s important to note that Drywall is an amazing construction material. Even though it may insulate to some degree, its primary job is not to provide insulation. So, to make a noticeable difference in heat flow, you must use an insulation material over the Drywall sheet.

What Is The R Value Of Plywood?

Plywood is another popular material used to cover interior walls and ceilings. This material is made of thin layers of wood veneer that are glued together. As plywood sheets are available in multiple thicknesses, the R-value also varies. The R-value of a 1-inch plywood sheet is R-1.25.

You can use multiple layers of plywood or cover the wall with insulation material to get better insulation. Soft foam and fiberglass insulations work ideally with plywood walls.

R-value Of Drywall Vs. R-Value Of Plywood

When comparing drywall’s R-value to plywood’s R-value, you must consider the thickness. Both of these building boards are available in multiple thicknesses, including 1/2″, 3/8″, 1/4″, and 5/8″.

While 1/2-inch drywall has an R-value of 0.45, the same plywood thickness features an R-value of 0.63. So, a 1/2-inch plywood sheet has a higher R-value than a drywall panel, providing more insulation from heat and cold.

The following table provides a brief comparison between different thicknesses of drywall and plywood:

ThicknessR-value (Drywall)R-value (Plywood)
1/4 Inch0.240.31
1/2 inch0.450.63
3/8 inch0.470.47
5/8 inch0.560.77

Is It Ok To Use Plywood Instead Of Drywall?

Both plywood and drywall have smaller R-values. So, you cannot pick plywood just because it has a slightly higher R-value. You need to consider a lot of different things as well, such as:


Your budget is the most important thing to consider while selecting a wall-covering material. The last thing you want is a material that costs you a fortune. Regarding cost, most wood materials (even plywood) are expensive.

Compared to plywood, drywall is fairly inexpensive and affordable. Moreover, the installation cost for drywall is also low. Yes, drywall is a little less durable than plywood, but it is still worth every single penny.


Plywood might have a higher R-value, but drywall is fire-resistant. All types of drywall panels, including regular drywall, are made of gypsum – a non-combustible material. So, whether you are getting an expensive or affordable board, your panel will protect your building from fire to some degree.

In addition, you can even get fire-resistant drywall, also known as Type X drywall. This one can be used in commercial buildings with one-hour fire-rated requirements.

Installation Process

Of the two materials, drywall is much easier to work with. You can easily carry and hang this material on your own. Moreover, cutting a drywall panel is a piece of cake. You can even use a utility knife to cut a drywall panel with precision and clarity.

Repairs and Maintenance

Both plywood and drywall have an amazing life span. With proper care and maintenance, these materials can last for years. However, it is easier to repair damaged drywall compared to plywood. In most cases, you’ll need to replace an entire plywood wall, which can cost you a lot of money!

Who Offers Better Insulation: Drywall Or Plywood?

The primary function of both plywood and drywall is not to insulate your home but rather to renovate a building and make an even wall. You cannot use them for insulation and ignore insulating your home further. Still, out of these 2 products, plywood has a higher R-value, so it also offers a better insulator.

As mentioned previously, using a separate insulation material over plywood or drywall is recommended. With this approach, you’ll be able to achieve a higher R-value, achieving better insulation from heat and cold.

You can use the following materials to insulate a house:

  • Foam Boards – Foam Boards are an excellent pick to increase R-value for drywall. It is concrete block insulation that can be placed outside a wall. Hence, you can use this insulation on both new and existing walls.
  • Fiberglass Wool – If you live in high-temperature areas, Fiberglass wool is the best choice for you. It features the rigid fibrous insulation type and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Polyethylene Bubbles – This material insulates a building using a reflective system. It is suitable for framing at standard spacing. Polyethylene bubbles are the most effective material at preventing downward heat flow.
  • Cellulose Fiberglass – This one is a loose-fill and blown-in type of insulation. It can be used on existing walls or walls with newly opened cavities. It is perfect for adding insulation to irregularly shaped areas and around obstructions.

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