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Can Drywall Touch Ductwork? 4 Important Facts

Can Drywall Touch Ductwork? 4 Important Facts

Doing your home renovations can be risky, especially without guidance. When it comes to getting near electric work, things can get extra dodgy. You may have some questions about the safety of what you’re doing, such as when you’re putting up drywall, can it touch the ductwork?

Drywall shouldn’t touch ductwork. You’ll need to leave a six-inch (15.24 cm) gap between the ductwork and the wall or encase the ductwork in insulation. If your drywall does touch the ductwork, this could make your walls warm. You’ll need to replace the drywall if your ductwork touches it. 

In this article, we’ll cover four things you should know about your drywall as it relates to ductwork. 

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Important Facts About Putting Drywall Around Your Ductwork 

If you have a basement with exposed ductwork, you may be itching to put some drywall up around it. A finished basement is always a plus in a home if you’re trying to sell it. It also creates a more liveable space in your family home. 

But before you put up your drywall, you may want to consider your plan carefully. 

Putting drywall around ductwork may be a long process, but doing it right the first time is essential. If you do it wrong, you risk the possibility of having to do it all over again and spend more money.

Here are four things you should consider before adding drywall around your ductwork:

1. Leave a 6-Inch Clearance Before Ductwork and Drywall

You should leave about six inches (15.24 cm) of clearance between the ductwork and the drywall you install.

If you put drywall directly on the ductwork, it can make the drywall warm. This warm air will enter your ductwork system and destroy it from the inside. It can also cause leaks in the air system because it won’t be insulated properly. This will waste energy, destroy your system, and require you to get everything replaced anyways. 

Even if you aren’t going to insulate, leaving the clearance ensures that the drywall and ductwork don’t interact. 

2. If Your Drywall Touches Ductwork, You May Need To Replace It

If someone else did a shoddy job of putting drywall up in your home, you might need to consider completely replacing it. 

This can be a costly process. Typically, you’ll have to get through the drywall to fix the insulation, which can cost quite a bit of money and require you to put up new drywall. You may also need to move the soffit if you’d built one beforehand, which can also require money. 

Ultimately, if someone puts work into your drywall just to have it touch the ductwork and possibly ruin your air conditioning, it’ll be a lot of time wasted and even more time repairing. Depending on how damaged your ductwork got in the process, you’ll need new insulation and possibly new ductwork (source). 

3. You May Need To Consider Insulating Your Ductwork 

Though not required, you may consider insulating your ductwork.

If you live in certain climates, heat can be lost with lots of space around the ductwork. You might need to think about adding fiberglass insulation around the ductwork. Living in a damp, cold climate will make insulation a must.

The need for insulation also depends on other factors. It’ll depend greatly on the location of your air ducts and what the weather is like where you live. If your ductwork is up in your attic, and you want to build a storage room with drywall into your attic, you’ll want to consider insulation. The attic is an extension of your home that is outside, so insulation is important (source). 

This is a choice you better make before you start adding your drywall, as it’ll be easier before the ductwork is enclosed. 

See Can Fiberglass Insulation Touch Ductwork? Key Considerations

4. You Don’t Have To Have Drywall Around Ductwork.

Though it may be more aesthetically appealing, it’s not required to have drywall around your ductwork.

Ductwork can stay free-floating and is usually pretty safe this way. If you have pets or kids running around your home, you may just want to ensure none of the ductwork has sharp edges they can run into or wide holes or gaps they can crawl into. Though it may look better with something over it, it’s not required to get the ductwork in your home covered or behind any type of walls. 

Other Options for Camouflaging Ductwork 

There are more options if you want to conceal your ductwork. 

If you want to hide the ductwork and are up for some creative approaches, you can:

  • Paint your ducts a different color that blends more visually with the rest of your house. 
  • Build a soffit (a wooden frame) with wood around your ducts to encase them.
  • Leave them exposed for an industrial feel.

These options are a bit more creative and may not be the duct-free look you’re looking for, but they’re less costly and leave less room for error. 

Here’s an excellent video on building soffit framing around ductwork:

How to Build a Soffit around Ductwork

Whatever you do, try to leave space between your duct and anything in the area. Don’t press furniture or other objects right against it. This helps to ensure that no heat will be lost and no damage will occur to your duct.

Ducts are expensive to replace, so be wary of what you’re putting near them. Make sure you have the right kind of paint or wood to go near your ducts, as well. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re going to build drywall around your ductwork, there are a few things you need to consider before moving forward. You’ll need to decide if you want to put insulation in, build a frame to distance the wall from the ductwork, and if the extra effort is worth it for you.

It would be wise to hire a professional to help conceal your ductwork. It’s a general rule of thumb, though, to leave at least six inches (15.24 cm) between your duct and your drywall if you plan on doing it yourself. 

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