Sheetrock vs Drywall – Is It Different?

When it comes to do a finishing in a house project, we usually come to the confusion in terms of “Sheetrock” or “Drywall”. Which should we use? is that even different?

The terms Sheetrock (as a brand) and drywall (as a material name) are often understood interchangeably, many people don’t realize the difference between them. In construction projects, We often choose which side is the cheapest when we considering a material choice. Even though there are many important aspect that we should consider to choose the right material which will be used.

We explain the differences between Sheetrock and drywall, from definitions, History, Strength – weakness comparation, and the types of product in terms of both things.

Definition – what is drywall?

what is drywall / Image via psychosexual-light

The smooth surfaced wall in your house might be using drywall. It is a sandwiched gypsum and thick paper board used to replace conventional brick wall. Drywall comes in large, smooth sheets and is easily and quickly installation.

Drywall is made from powdered gypsum, a rock of calcium sulfate that is pressed between two thick pieces of paper. One of the biggest advantages of drywall is that it is fire resistant.  While not the most durable against bumps and dents, it does have the advantage of being easily repaired. Patches and special drywall mud can be used to filling gouges, making this material ideal for use on interior walls. Drywall readily takes paint and provides a clean, finished look.

Definition – what is sheetrock?

USG Sheetrock / Image via You Can Buy via Amazon

Sheetrock is a trademark name for a brand of drywall.  USG (United States Gypsum) Corporation owns the trademark for Sheetrock.  They have been in business since 1901 when 30 smaller companies were combined into one large conglomerate.

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There are several manufacturers of gypsum board in America, including American Gypsum, CertainTeed Gypsum, Georgia-Pacific, Lafarge North America, National Gypsum, PABCO, and U.S. Gypsum Company. USG  remains the largest manufacturer of all of them, hence the popularity of the Sheetrock brand name.

It uses the same main components as drywall, but different additives. These vary according to formulas subject to patents and are meant to improve quality and durability.

Perhaps the best way to understand the connection between Sheetrock and drywall is to look at their history.


History / Image via

Drywall history can be traced back to 1884 when Fred Kane and Augustine Sackett invented it. The first plant opened in Rochester, Kent, UK, in 1888, and used two layer plaster within four wool-felt paper plies (then called Plasterboard). The sheets measured 36″ × 36″ × 1/4″ and had untaped, open edges.

In 1910, U.S. Gypsum Company took over Sackett Plaster Board Company. By 1917, the company developed its own product, called Sheetrock. From 1910 to 1930, plasterboard evolved, manufacturers traded open edges for wrapped ones, and gave up the inner wool felt layers.

Sheetrock evolved with it, relying on new solutions to improve fire resistance, ease of installation, and weight, and to be less brittle. Soon, rock lath, also known as gypsum lath, became the substrate of choice for plaster.

Instead of traditional wood and metal lath, drywall manufacturers began using a compressed gypsum plasterboard panel. This was often grooved and punched in order to allow the wet plaster to penetrate into its surface. They began impregnating the paper they used for facing the panels with gypsum crystals, to make sure it would bond with the plaster layer.

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Their efforts to improve their products lead to a diversification of the offer. Now, there are several types of drywall available on the market. U.S. Gypsum Company managed to keep up, currently offering several types of Sheetrock.

Is Sheetrock Better Than Drywall?

Sheetrock vs Drywall / Image via

Sometimes we choose some product by considering which is the cheapest one. As a popular branded product, sheetrock certainly is more expensive than any unbranded drywall (generic drywall). However this mindset is not always a good way to choose an important part of the building.

In 2009 it came to light that an inferior Chinese made drywall was being imported and sold to US consumers.

During the summer months, when the houses would heat, those gases released into the house. The gasses created headache and sinus issues for the homeowners, including asthma attacks.  Often, a rotten egg smell would be present inside the home.

Making matters worse, the sulfurous compounds would react with the wiring I will home, causing it to oxidize and ruining the electrical circuits.
Unlike Sheetrock, some drywall varieties can pose significant health risks.

This backstory is provided, USG Corporation did not sell contaminated drywall. If a homeowner had chosen to stick with only sheetrock branded products, they would’ve been protected.

Unfortunately, both drywall and Sheetrock are vulnerable to water damage. When exposed to water, they develop unsightly wicking, the plaster in them softens, and the paper supports mold growth. Their use also involves considerable waste, sometimes exceeding 17%.

The Types of Drywall and Sheetrock

There are different types of drywall, but the most common is the standard 1/2-inch drywall with some greenboard used in bathrooms and Fire-resistant drywall in places mandated by building codes.

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Regular: Regular drywall refers to the general type of residential drywall where Gypsum powder is pressed between two pieces of heavy paper.

Drywall can be categorized as follows:

Moisture-resistant Drywall

Moisture resistant /

The core contains waterproofing materials but remains breathable, allowing the surface the drywall sheet is applied on to breathe through the wall’s surface. This variety is a great option for areas with high humidity, like kitchens and bathrooms.

Fire-resistant Drywall

Fire resistant / Image via

Less likely to catch fire, it is perfect for garages, ceilings, some corridors, and stairwells.

Abuse-resistant Drywall

Abuse resistant / Image via

It relies on a polystyrene layer bonded to its non-decorative side to provide greater heat insulation than regular sheets. It is a great choice for garages.

Soundproof Drywall

Soundbreak / Image via

With better soundproofing qualities than regular sheets, it is perfect for apartments and condos’ walls and ceilings.

Foil-backed Drywall

Foiled Back / Image via

It has a moisture-resistant paper on the decorative side and a silver layer on the non-decorative side. It is suitable for cold climates and dry environments.

The Sheetrock brand comprises similar product categories:

  • Regular
  • Fire-resistant
  • Mold resistant
  • Plaster base
  • Abuse-resistant panels
  • Liner panels
  • Manufactured housing panels.

For every Sheetrock product, there is a corresponding drywall variety. It is up to the user to choose the suitable variety for each project and follow the installation steps, which are the same for both drywall and Sheetrock.


Anyone planning a construction project that involves drywall should carefully read labels and investigate manufacturer practices. Chances are USG Company will stand out among other drywall manufacturers, as they seem to have a reliable quality control system in place, their products being among the safest and best rated on the market.

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