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How Long Does Drywall Last in a House?

How Long Does Drywall Last in a House?

All of your home’s components, from the roof and plumbing to electrical work and flooring, have an expected lifespan and will require replacement at some point. Some parts of a home, like drywall, are less likely to need total replacement than others. So, how long can you expect the drywall in your house to last?

Interior drywall can last up to 70 years in a house with ideal conditions. However, water damage, termite damage, or hard usage can significantly reduce its lifespan. Since drywall can be replaced in sections as needed, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to redo your home’s drywall completely.

Read on for more about the drywall in your home and how you can maximize its life expectancy.

Factors That Influence Drywall’s Lifespan

Drywall is a preferred building material for contractors and homeowners because it can be cut into sheets and nailed directly to wall studs, with only the seams and nail holes having to be smoothed. Its easy installation and cheap cost mean drywall is a standard in most modern construction projects.

Although drywall is intended to last for decades, there are multiple factors that can influence whether it actually does. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common factors that can have an effect on your drywall:

Exposure to Moisture

Drywall is designed to resist exposure to normal levels of moisture. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth when it’s dirty, for example.

However, because the paper components of drywall are absorbent, more significant exposure to water will damage or degrade it. Roof or plumbing leaks, any degree of flooding, or consistently high levels of ambient humidity will result in drywall that bulges, swells, or begins to peel. 

Areas that are prone to moisture often require green board instead of regular drywall.

Aside from the damage caused directly by exposure to moisture, drywall can become moldy if it’s left damp. Minor mold issues can be spot-treated, but large areas or persistent mold regrowth may require deeper remediation.

Except in cases of catastrophic flooding, however, it’s unlikely that water damage will require the replacement of all the drywall in your home. Most likely, replacing only the damaged sections will suffice.

Termite Damage

Termites feed on wood and paper–including the paper found in drywall. If you have termites in your home, drywall damage may be one of the first signs you notice. Small pinholes in walls, evidence of termite waste (small, hexagonal specks of what looks like wood), or tubelike structures hanging from the ceiling drywall are all evidence of termite activity.

Source: Terminix

Termites are an enormous concern for any homeowner, and for far more than just their ability to damage drywall. Termites left untreated will eat away at the wooden framework of your home, causing potentially catastrophic structural damage.

Termite eradication can be expensive, but it’s absolutely necessary to preserve the integrity of your home. Treatment may require the removal of some drywall in order to assess structural damage or level of infestation. 

Again, however, it’ll only require full replacement in the most extreme scenarios. Most of the time, replacement of damaged sections will be sufficient.

Wear and Tear

Drywall is reasonably durable, but it’s prone to dents, scuffs, and holes, particularly in high traffic areas like hallways and entryways. Drywall can be patched and repaired, but over time, accumulated repairs may be visible and detract from the appearance of the area. 

Depending on the severity of the damage or how public-facing the repaired area is, you may decide that full replacement of damaged sections is preferred over continued repair. A skilled drywall installer can remove old drywall and install new in a matter of hours. 

The taped and prepped seams will need to dry overnight but can be ready for sanding and painting the following day.

How To Prolong Your Drywall’s Lifespan

If you’re worried about your drywall succumbing to potential damages, there are ways that you can prolong it for as long as possible and get your money’s worth. 

Here are a few tips to prolong your drywall’s lifespan:

  1. Invest in Mold-Resistant Drywall To Minimize Water Damages

Although slightly pricier, mold-resistant drywall is excellent for use in bathrooms and other high-moisture areas. Similar in appearance to traditional drywall, mold-resistant drywall is more resistant to water and can, therefore, prevent the build-up of moisture, which eventually leads to mold growth. 

It’s not a sure-fire solution, as mold-resistant drywall can still be prone to potential water damages, but it can offer slightly more protection since it’s constructed with thicker layers that help deter water from seeping in.

  1. Repair the Damaged Parts of Your Drywall Immediately

Drywall is relatively sturdy, but it can weaken over time if it has excessive damages that haven’t been attended to or repaired. It’s vital to repair the damages as they appear so they aren’t able to gradually worsen. 

For example, thanks to its water content, drywall is fire-resistant. But if overexposed to fire, it can slowly deteriorate and leave behind signs of burning, which can be unsightly and compromise the integrity of the material. 

In its weakened state, the drywall may be less resistant to moisture, or even future fires. Therefore, it’s important to tackle these damages as they occur, so you can maintain the drywall’s durability for longer. 

For more Information, see OSB Versus Sheetrock In A Garage: Pro, Cons, And Fire Code

  1. Check for Any Irregularities in Your Drywall 

While your drywall may appear fine for now, that doesn’t mean it’ll always stay in top condition. As part of your home maintenance routine, be sure to give your drywall frequent checks to ensure it’s performing as normal. 

Look for any cracks or creasing, especially around the baseboards, edges, corners, and ceilings, as these could be indicators of more serious problems, such as foundation issues. 

You should also check for any watermarks, stains, or discoloration, as these could point to early signs of moisture build-up or mold. 

Source: Architecture Lab

Staying on top of your drywall will enable you to catch any problems early on, so you can resolve them sooner before they worsen. 

Final Thoughts

Drywall is a fantastic, durable material used in many homes today. It offers numerous benefits, such as easy installation and affordability, making it a go-to for most homeowners. However, even though drywall can last for years, certain factors, such as excessive moisture, termites, and natural wear and tear, can compromise your drywall’s longevity. 

In order to get the most out of your drywall for as long as possible, check it frequently for changes or irregularities. It’s also crucial to keep it clean and repair any damages as soon as they occur. 

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