Commonsense Sheetrock

Getting plastered can have positive and negative connotations. I won’t deal with the latter cheap shot, but as we have completed our building foundation, frame and mechanicals hanging sheetrock is the harbinger of building finish! Exciting stuff, only two weeks to completion, (two weeks is a highly evolved spacetime concept used by general contractors when asked how long a project will take- “Two weeks, two weeks. You sound like a canary!” [watch The Money Pit, you will understand]) So what does an engineer have to share about Gypsum Sheet Rock (GSR).

  1. Know your gypsum. The Chinese high sulfur GSR mess happened because everyone thought gypsum is gypsum. There used to be asbestos in some veins or added purposefully to strengthen joint compounds.
  2. Use the appropriate facing for the application. Since common sense is so uncommon, manufacturers are trying to develop a “one size fits all” fiberglass faced product for use everywhere. The greenboard works for wet location, although cement board is the material of choice for shower and spa backer board. Paper faced will work in all other locations–if you control moisture migration. That is a big if, and subject of learned tomes like my friend Lew Harriman’s ASHRAE published guides.
  3. Green side up. My mentor, Emil Hanslin used this phrase to explain in simplest terms how to lay sod. I have seen building complexes where the gypsum stucco backer was installed with the wire lath inside while they tried to plaster the backing. Not a pretty site or sight.
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