“How much does drywall cost?” There’s a reason why people ask this question. Drywall is one of the most economical building materials available, since it creates walls, ceilings and in some cases entire rooms for very little money. As long as the architectural look of the end result doesn’t have to be fancy, drywall is the perfect inexpensive construction medium. Yes, you can paint or decorate drywall just like a regular wall of wood or brick or stone, and you can fasten proper wood paneling over it. The result, while not elegant, will be livable, insulated and well-built. As usual, the cost of drywall depends upon the size of the project, and the total cost will reflect labor as well as materials, unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer.
The answer to the question, “how much does drywall cost?” depends upon what size wall, ceiling or dormer corner you want, and the material you want to use; not all drywall is the same.
The most popular and readily available brand is Gold Bond, which boasts the most consistent drywall prices and which measures 8 ft. x 4 ft and with variable widths. The average cost of a sheet is between $6 to $15, depending on width; more about that in a moment. If you estimate a room at normal height and width, an average of 8 feet high by 14 feet long per wall (a good sized storage room, for instance), you have a price of approximately $700 to $900 for materials. Add in a contractor (say one who works in an urban area), and you can add on labor costs that will run somewhere between $500 and $900 to complete the job professionally. If you want to pay for only the materials, you can assume at least a day’s work, unless you have friends, neighbors or relatives who’ll be content with a cold drink afterwards.
Single sheets, as noted, cover a large range in drywall pricing, but relatively little difference in quality—if you select the Gold Bond brand, you’ll be dealing with the most frequently stocked drywall around (and you will want a popular brand because it’s easily replaced, just in case you break a section or didn’t get enough sheets for the job).
The drywall cost per sheet depends on the sheet’s width. 3/8 inch is the least expensive, averaging $6-$8, depending on the store you select. Next is ½ inch, which comes in at about the same price (or perhaps 50 cents more per gypsum sheet). The following is the slightly more expensive ¼ inch, which runs between $7-$9 per sheet, and finally the most expensive (and sturdiest) dry wall piece, 5/8 inch, which runs between $12 and $15.
All right, you’ve got the plan ready—you’re going to create a room with drywall. Your walls, as we mentioned, are going to be a standard 8 feet by 14 feet—this yields a total square footage of 112. Now you add the square footage in areas of surfaces that will be drywalled, yielding you a total of approximately 448 square feet (assuming four walls). Do the math and you’ll see that it will take about 30 drywall sheets (round up to 32 to be safe) to complete the project. Assume the cost of a sheet between $7 and $9 for the ½ inch, and it becomes $240 to $270, the materials-only cost for the drywall sheets to complete the room. None of this includes the labor, of course, but you should figure close to one day and perhaps $800-$1000 in labor expenses for a crew of two to three workers.
The same calculations you used in determining the cost of drywall for a structure of four walls is also applied to the ceiling. The ceiling’s square footage is calculated and translated into the number of drywall sheets used. For example, an average ceiling of 12 feet by 20 feet would require six sheets (at about $45 to $54 total for sheets only). You would also have to supply the frame to hang the drywall, which can be as simple as 2x4s or 2x8s attached to the ceiling, at approximately $120-150 more. That’s close to $200 for materials for the ceiling—figure at least $400-500 labor costs for a few men to hang the drywall in an afternoon. In all, estimate between $600 and $800 at current drywall prices for a ceiling.
The best places to buy drywall would either be Lowe’s or Home Depot to find the most consistent drywall prices and the largest supplies in stock.
Orchard Home and Garden is the third possibility. If you’re wondering how we know this, these are the stores where we priced all the drywall in this analysis! Happy building to you!
There is a spike in drywall pricing for sheets that are mold resistant, but they are a necessity if you are, for example, finishing a basement where pipes run throughout; you will have constant mildew and molding problems with the humidity in the area if you don’t install mold resistant drywall, and the cost is not as much as you may be expecting. On average, the best mold resistant drywall (a solid brand name such as ToughRock, for instance) will run between $13 and $15 a sheet, adding perhaps $40 to $50 to your total drywall cost, which is certainly worth it for such a small drywall pricing increase.
Paperless drywall is actually a “blue board,” a building material sheet that is slightly less crumbly than regular drywall, and costs a nominally larger fee—on average $14-$16 a sheet. Another “paperless” drywall is the very sturdy and long-lasting masonry board, which costs about the same as the “blue board” although the sheets are marginally smaller (usually 6 feet by 4 feet). The average spike in price for a “blue board” or masonry board is between $50 and $75 more added to the overall drywall cost of the project.
To lighten the load of drywall, but still retain the sturdy sensation of the solid material, you can purchase ultralight drywall, which is up to 30% lighter than regular drywall, thus making carrying the drywall and setting it in place a great deal easier. It costs about one to two dollars more than regular gypsum—the average price per sheet is $14 to $16.