8 Best Drywall Alternatives for Garage Explained

Best Drywall Alternatives for Garage
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Are you looking for the perfect wall for your garage? Have you been having a hard time with ‘wet-walls’ construction and maintenance? Perhaps you just want to know more about drywall.

This article is going to be focused on the drywall alternatives for garages in modern times. And their unique characteristics will also be discussed.

Before going into the drywall alternatives for garages, it is essential to know that drywall has several qualities that make it great for building in general.

Some of them are:

  • Drywall has high resistance to fire. This means that they help control and prevent the spread of fire between adjacent rooms.
  • Drywall can be functional immediately after installation, unlike plaster and mortar.

However, drywall does not offer some important things a garage wall should have. They include the following:

  • The drywall is not soundproof. This can cause disturbance to others while you are doing some noisy work in your garage.
  • Drywall has low resistance to impact. Hence, it is prone to damage caused by physical force.
  • Drywall can only be used in garages that have little or no moisture. This is because drywall swells and gets damaged when it gets wet repeatedly.

With all of the factors mentioned above in mind, it is clear that drywall is not entirely perfect for the garage. Therefore, some of the drywall alternatives for garages are:

1. Plywood

It is a material that is made from thin layers (plies) of wood that are glued together. Plywood is produced in different thicknesses, smoothness, etc. Indeed, there is a wide variety of plywood.

So how do you know the types of plywood that can be used as drywall alternatives for garages?

According to www.garageage.com“the exact answer is 3/8-inch, and it is the minimum plywood thickness.” The international residential code also specifies “3/8-inch plywood for sheathing walls….” Therefore, it can be concluded that 3/8-inch plywood is appropriate when using plywood as drywall alternatives for garages in terms of thickness.

In terms of smoothness, A-Grade plywood is suitable for garage walls. It is smooth and free of knots. However, the C-Grade plywood is good enough for the sheathing of garage walls.

The C Grade plywood goes better as drywall alternatives if you intend to paint the wall after completion. Plywood has some advantages over drywall.

These include:

  • The major advantage plywood has over drywall is its structural strength. Plywood is stronger than drywall by a great deal. It is more resistant to dents and other damage. Impacts caused by tools, equipment, and sharp objects can disfigure your drywall. In the case of plywood, this does not happen.
  • Furthermore, using plywood as a drywall alternative for the garage offers you the ability to hang shelves and other wall appendages. How? You might be wondering.

Screws can be screwed easily on plywood walls without damaging the wall behind them. Drywall does not offer this feature.

Therefore, garage owners that intend to hang or construct shelves to hang trophies, tools, machinery, etc., should go for plywood garage walls instead of drywall.

  • Another reason why plywood is among the drywall alternatives for garages is that plywood can be easily installed.

Drywall is generally heavier than plywood. This makes its installation more tedious. Installation of drywall requires many arduous steps and procedure which does not apply to the installation of plywood.

According to www.homewarrantreview.com, “Plywood installation does not require any taping or joint compound. Most installation just requires simple caulking of the seams between boards to achieve success. Plywood is the more sensible option for your garage in terms of installation.”  

  • In addition, plywood is moisture-resistant. Unlike drywall which is highly unsuitable for damp garages, plywood garage walls allow a significant amount of moisture before getting damaged. Plywood walls can last over ten (10) years before they need to be replaced!

2. Medium–Density Fiberboard (MDF)

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an artificial wood product. It is made from hardwood and softwood residuals that have been reduced to wood fibers. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is denser than plywood. 

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) has a lot of pros and cons as a drywall alternative for garages. The pros are:

  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is cheaper than drywall. In fact, it is generally cheaper than plywood.
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is stronger and more durable than drywall. It does not crack easily when exposed to changes in temperature. It has structural integrity that is similar to plywood’.
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is generally smoother than plywood. This makes it a better surface for painting.
  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) has good material consistency. This consistency, coupled with its smoothness, makes it easy to cut your MDF based on customized designs. Cool, right?
  • The consistent nature of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) also helps in the prevention of splinters during handling, unlike most plywood.

The major con of using Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) as a drywall alternative for garages is that it is not moisture-resistant.

However, this setback has a solution. George Hill Timber & Building Supplies suggested, “Just like particle board, MDF will soak up water and other liquids like a sponge and swell unless it’s very well sealed on all sides and edges.”

It is worthy of note that medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is more difficult to install because of its high density. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) does not also support screws because it is made of tiny particles.

3. Oriented Strand Board(OSB)

Oriented Standard Board (OSB) is an artificial modification of wood. It is made by gluing wood strands or flakes together, followed by compression in different directions to form a hard plane. It is characterized by its visible wood strands.

Oriented Standard Board (OSB) requires a thickness of 3/8 inches, according to www.garagemadesimple.comwww.homeguide.com also suggested that Oriented Standard Board (OSB) used for wall sheathing should be 7/16 inches thick.

Oriented Standard Board (OSB) is one of the prominent drywall alternatives for garages because it has some advantages. Some of them are:

  • Oriented Standard Board (OSB) is strong and durable. It is more resistant to trauma than drywall.
  • Oriented Standard Board (OSB) provides a base for nailing garage wall insulation such as fiberglass, rigid foam, spray foam, cellulose, etc.
  • Oriented Standard Board (OSB) is cheap. It is less expensive than plywood. So, if you are short on budget, OSB is for you.
  • According to www.garagetransformed.com, “OSB doesn’t warp as easily as plywood, and it accepts nails well, especially when punching them into ceilings, joints, or studs. This makes it ideal for exterior walls….”
  • Unlike drywall, Oriented Standard Board (OSB) does not require any tapping, mud, or sanding,” www.trusscore.com added.
  • Oriented Standard Board (OSB) can last for many years. According to www.plasticinehouse.com, “some exterior OSB wall panels are even guaranteed for fifty (50) years.”
  • Oriented Standard Board (OSB) is more water-resistant than drywall. According to www.plideck.com, “every fiber or piece of wood in an OSB is saturated with a cocktail of resins designed to provide superior strength and waterproofing to the finished products. This type of construction makes OSB an incredibly strong material.”

However, OSB gets damaged when exposed to a lot of moisture. www.builderonline.com said: “The major disadvantage of OSB is that if it gets exposed to significant amounts of water or moisture, the edges expand by up to 15%…especially if they are cut edges.”    

4. Metal Panels

Stylish metal panels are one of the common drywall alternatives for garages. For metal to be used as metal panels for garage walls, it must have some qualities.

Some of these qualities are:

  • The metal must be pliable. This simply means that the metal must be flexible or easily bent. This will ensure that the installation of the metal panels isn’t tedious.
  • The metal should be corrosion resistant. This means that the metal should not be easily susceptible to rust.
  • The metal should be light to ensure un-stressful installation.
  • The metal should be strong and durable.
  • The metal should not be too expensive. It should be economical.

Thus, steel and aluminum fit the bill pretty well and are therefore the most common metal wall paneling materials,” www.garagemadesimple.com said. Copper can be used as a metal panel material in some cases.

It should be noted that aluminum does not rust like steel. However, steel can be made corrosion-resistant by galvanization (the process of coating a metal with rust-resistant zinc).

There are different types of metal panels that can be used as drywall alternatives for garages. They are: 

  • Single-Skin Metal Panels: Consist of one sheet of metal
    • One of the simplest and cheapest options available
    • They are light
    • They are easy to install.
    • They are not very ‘fancy.’
  • Metal Composite Material (MCM) Metal Panels:
    • Combination of metal and plastic.
    • It generally uses two layers of aluminum (or steel) with a plastic core between them.
    • It has good aesthetic properties.
  • Insulated Metal Panels (IMP)
    • Similar to Metal Composite Material (MCM). However, there is an insulating material between the two aluminum layers instead of plastic.
    • The insulating material can be polystyrene. Insulated Metal Panels (IMP) help conserve heat in garages located in cold climates and regions. In hot and dry areas, your garage will remain cool if you use Insulated Metal Panels (IMP) as drywall alternatives for your garage.

Generally, the use of Metal Panels offers a lot of advantages. Some of these advantages are:

  • Metal panels are stylish. They come in beautiful colors and are shiny and attractive. They are also flat, smooth, and easy to handle.
  • Metal panels have high structural strength and integrity. They can withstand trauma and physical impacts. According to www.garagemadesimple.com, “metal panels are a lot stronger than drywall and even stronger than other sheathing materials such as plywood, OSB, or Fiber Cement Board (FCB).” 
  • Metal panels are durable. If you use a good metal like aluminum or galvanized steel, the risk of corrosion is reduced. Thus, metal wall panels can last for up to five (5) decades.
  • Metal wall panels do not require much maintenance. It is done once in a while, and it is cost-effective.
  • Metal panels are fire-resistant. They help control the spread of fire in the event of an outbreak. Hence, Metal panels are good drywall alternatives for the garage.
  • Unlike the earlier mentioned wood sheathings (plywood, OSB, MDF, etc.), metal panels are pest resistant. They are not attacked by termites and other wood pests. Therefore, if you live around termites, metal wall panels are for you.
  • Metal panels like IMP (Insulated Metal Panels) will provide good insulation for your garage walls
  • Metal wall panels are lightweight. This makes them easy to install.
  • In the event of damage or dents, the affected parts of the metal panels can be replaced with ease.

Nothing is all good, is it? The major disadvantage of using metal panels as drywall alternatives for garages is the high initial cost

Metal panels are more expensive than other drywall alternatives for garages by great deal. However, if you consider its durability, strength, and maintenance, the high upfront cost of using metal panels for your garage wall is justified.

5. Cement Board

A cement board is a combination of cement and reinforcing fibers. This combination is then formed into sheets of different thicknesses.

Cement boards that are formed from cement and plant (reinforcing) fibers are called Fiber Cement Boards (FCB).

When particles of wood flakes are used in place of the fibers, they are called Cement Bonded Particle Boards (CBPB).

Cement boards have gained prominence as part of drywall alternatives for garages because of the following things they have to offer:

  • The cement board is water resistantAccording to www.garagemadesimple.com, “basically, FCB is not hygroscopic like drywall and will not absorb water when exposed to rain or flooding. It will get wet, but it will dry out pretty fast.” Therefore, cement board does not support mold formation and growth.
  • The cement board is fire-resistant. This makes them a good drywall alternative for the garage.
  • Fiber Cement Board (FCB) has high structural strength. They are impact resistant, which is an important quality garage should have.
  • Like metal panels, cement boards are pest-resistant. Although FCB has some plant fibers, the fibers are completely encapsulated by cement. This makes it hard for the termites to get to them.
  • Cement boards can be decorated in many ways. Cement board walls can be easily painted in any color you fancy. You can even put tiles on them. You just need to be creative!
  • In conclusion, cement board walls are durable. They are not damaged by water, do not break easily due to impact, and are resistant to termite infestation.

Cement boards are not as popular as they should be in the world of garage walls. This is due to the following reasons:

  • Cement boards are heavy. “the weight comes from the high percentage of cement and sand in a Fiber Cement Board (FCB).”
  • The cost of cement board is also high relative to other garage wall sheathing materials.

6. Pegboard

Pegboard is also referred to as ‘perforated hardboard.’ It is made up of many holes. These holes are of equal sizes.

The main usefulness of pegboards on your garage wall is that they are good organizational tools. You can use them to hang your automobile tools and other equipment. Pegboards are easy to install.

A wooden pegboard is not waterproof. The good news is that plastic pegboards exist, and they are waterproof! However, pegboards aren’t strong, generally. So, it has low resistance to physical impact and trauma.

7. PVC–Based Panels

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) has become one of the most commonly used plastics. It is no surprise that it has found its way into the drywall alternatives for garages in our modern world.

There are two major types of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). Rigid and Flexible. PVC-based panels for garage walls are made from rigid PVC.

For the following reasons, PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) has made it to the list of drywall alternatives for garages:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) wall panels are strong. They have fairly high tensile and flexural strengths. They resist damage caused by physical impact or trauma to a reasonable extent.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) wall panels are waterproof. Even when they get wet, they do not absorb the water, and the water can be easily wiped off. Therefore, PVC-based wall panels do not allow the growth of mold.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) wall panels do not get attacked by insects like termites.
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) wall panels do not rot like other wood-based sheathing materials.
  • They are not very difficult to install despite their high density.
  • Due to the presence of chlorine atoms in PVC monomer, PVC-based wall panels are fire-resistant.

From the above, it can be concluded that PVC-based wall panels are drywall alternatives because of their durability. They can last for 20-50 years with simple maintenance.

On the other hand, using PVC-based wall panels as garage walls has some disadvantages. They are:

  • Heavy items with sharp edges can scratch PVC-based wall panels because PVC has a mildly soft configuration.
  • PVC is not tolerant of high temperatures. It tends to change its shape and texture according to the temperature of its environment.
  • According to EasyPanels’ website, “chlorine is an essential component of PVC products, and this is a volatile element. Chlorine can be released from PVC panels over time.” This can cause some health problems to the inhabitants, although rare. 

Further Reviews

For an easier understanding of the strengths of the drywall alternatives for garages discussed, you must be reminded of their peculiarities.

  • Do you live in a place with lots of termites? Go for cement boards, metal panels, or PVC-based panels as drywall alternatives for your garage.
  • Do you reside in a swampy or moist area? Go for cement boards or PVC-based panels.
  • Want a fire-resistant garage wall? Cement boards, metal panels, and PVC-based panels are for you.
  • Have a low budget? Plywood, Oriented Standard Board (OSB), or Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is for you.
  • Want to keep your working tools always arranged in the best way? Try pegboards.

Have fun choosing and creating the perfect design for your garage walls!

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