Building construction codes in many areas require attached garages to have drywall. The material is cost-effective and provides excellent sheathing for garage walls. It is also easy to install, even though it is best to leave the installation to a professional for the best results.
While most attached garages may enjoy the home’s air conditioning, mainly when used as an extension of the living spaces, detached garages are rarely air-conditioned.
So, can you drywall an unheated garage? Read along to learn how to drywall a garage with no air conditioning.
- Drywall Alternatives for Garage
- Pros and Cons of Hanging Drywall Vertically
- Drywall or Plywood for garage Walls
- Best Slatwall for Garage
Can you drywall an unheated garage?
Yes. Temperature does not directly affect the drywall material, but considerable temperature variations can create moisture that will affect your wall. So, when installing drywall in an unheated garage, consider a way to control humidity or use a moisture-resistant option.
Standard drywall is made of compacted ground gypsum and thick layers of paper. Since gypsum is highly hygroscopic, drywall will readily absorb moisture, resulting in mold growth and rot.
Keeping your garage well-ventilated and moisture-free will help prevent or minimize the risk of these problems.
However, we recommend using moisture-resistant drywall panels if you wish to drywall an unheated garage without controlling condensation.
High humidity levels or poor ventilation associated with such garages will not damage your panels if they are moisture-resistant.
What temperature is too cold for drywall?
No temperature is too cold for drywall once it has been successfully installed. Temperature only matters during the drywall installation. Once it is dry, it can survive freezing temperatures without any problem.
This explains why you can have an unheated garage with drywall interiors in winter without problems if you keep the place dry and well-ventilated.
How to drywall a garage
If you prefer to finish your garage using a drywall material, you can follow the steps in this section to complete the task.
This article provides a brief overview of the process of installing drywall. Notice that it does not cover priming and painting the installed drywall or finishing it, whichever way you prefer.
But first, here are the tools you will likely need to complete the process.
- Carpenter’s marker or pencil
- Drywall screws
- Tape measure
- Cutting knife
- 4-foot level
- Carpenter’s T-Square
Procedure for installing drywall
After assembling the tools and materials needed for this task, follow this procedure to install drywall on your garage wall.
Step 1: Plan the arrangement of your drywall material
Your drywall sheets may come in panels measuring 4 feet wide by 8 feet long. Start by deciding whether to arrange them vertically or horizontally to fit better. Your garage wall measurements should determine how you arrange the sheets.
Since you must make some cuts for the drywall panels to fit properly, ensure you choose an orientation that will end up with the fewest cuts possible.
Step 2: Fit out the first sheet of drywall
How you install your first drywall panel affects the final look. So ensure you take your time to get it right.
Step 3: Fit out the remaining uncut drywall panels
After installing the first panel, follow it with the remaining full sheets, ensuring the look is consistent.
We recommend starting your installation from the top down. You want to ensure your first full sheets of drywall sit snug against the ceiling to create an even look.
Eventually, you will have to cut some drywall sheets to fit your garage wall. Hanging your panels from the top will ensure those imperfect cuts create seams and joints near the bottom, where they are likely to be hidden behind cabinets, cartons, and other things in the garage.
Starting from the bottom up and having the joints and seams near the ceiling will mean they are near the lights where they are more noticeable. You don’t want the garage lights highlighting the imperfections in your wall.
Step 4: Measure and cut the sheets to fit at the bottom
Garages are not perfectly sized, so you must resize some drywall sheets to create a seamless finish.
Measure the remaining spaces and use a marker or pencil to mark the remaining sheets where you intend to cut. Put the markings on the front-facing side of the drywall sheet, not the back.
After marking your sheets, use a long level or carpenter’s T-square to connect your markings, creating a solid line along which to cut.
Why you should drywall your garage
Drywall has numerous benefits that your unheated garage can tap into. Here are the reasons to install drywall on your garage wall.
Drywall hides electrical wiring, plumbing, and other cables more effectively
Garages have several sets of cables and tubing that run inside the wall. When you add these to the plumbing and communication cables, the additional installations can create a crowded look, diminishing your garage’s aesthetics.
Drywall can help turn things around, making it easier to install additional tubing, cables, and electrical outlets without messing up the overall look.
The drywall panels will do an excellent job tucking away these utilities and keeping any wires or tubing out of sight. This helps create a cleaner, seamless look in your garage.
2. Drywall and insulation make the garage more comfortable year-round
Installing drywall panels over garage wall insulation can go a long way in keeping the space warmer in cold seasons.
The sheets seal the insulation, preventing the cold from seeping through the wall. This can make the garage more livable and keep the pipes in the walls from freezing.
During hot seasons, the sheath will help keep the outdoor air outside the garage. Preventing hot air from seeping into the garage can help keep indoor temperatures more comfortable.
3. Installing drywall can increase your home’s resale value
If you intend to resell your home, the finished look of your garage can contribute to a higher price. The finish can significantly drive up the cost, giving you thousands of dollars more on your sale.
This can be a great way to multiply your returns since the cost of installing drywall will likely be a fraction of what it attracts in resale profit.
4. Drywall offers some level of soundproofing
If you use your garage for entertainment or as a workshop, the noise from your activities in the garage can disturb the family or nearby homes. This is especially a crucial factor if you have neighbors nearby.
If that is the case, you will need a way to dampen the noise produced while you use the garage.
While drywall is not a designated soundproofing material, it reduces noise to a reasonable extent. The material will dampen the noise even further if used over insulation, creating a thick cushion around your garage space.
5. Drywall can protect your garage against fire
Storing or using flammable products like mineral spirits in your garage presents the risk of a fire outbreak.
In case of a fire outbreak in your garage, burnable garage wall materials like MDF (medium-density fiberboard), plywood, or OSB (oriented strand board) are a weakness. Your garage can easily be razed down with such walls.
However, drywall consists of gypsum, which is highly resistant to fire. In case of a fire outbreak, the material can create a barrier that prevents the fire from spreading and potentially razing down your garage.
This quality makes drywall ideal for garages that host potential fire hazards, such as power tools and petroleum products.
6. The reflectivity of drywall can make your garage space brighter
Regular drywall is sometimes referred to as a whiteboard due to its white surface color.
Covering your garage walls with white panels can significantly brighten up the space, making it look more spacious and livable.
If you consider better lighting an essential factor, drywall should be a perfect choice of garage wall material for you.
Such increased reflectivity and brightness can go a long way if you use the garage as a DIY workshop. You will need all the lighting you can get when running precision tools like a circular saw for your woodwork.
The video below shows how to drywall a garage
Likely problems when you drywall an unheated garage
Using drywall in an unheated garage has its many benefits, but it is not without limitations.
If you drywall a detached or attached garage that has no heating system, you may run into the following problems.
Cracking drywall mud
Joint compound or drywall mud is the material used to seal joints, screw holes, and seams between drywall panels to create a seamless and uniform surface.
The paste primarily consists of the same product as drywall (powdered gypsum) but is mixed with water to achieve a soft consistency.
Since the joint compound has water, humidity and temperature directly affect its drying time and behavior.
You must also apply it in several thin layers instead of a few thick ones. When these conditions are not fully satisfied, and the temperature rises too high, the material may crack, creating unsightly marks on the wall.
2. Cracking drywall sheets
Like dry joint material, drywall can be brittle. Therefore, sudden temperature changes from one extreme to the other can force the panels to expand after contracting. Over time, the sheets can develop cracks, weakening them.
Since drywall has thick paper on its surface, the hairline cracks may remain invisible. However, they affect the wall’s structural integrity.
Tips for preventing larger cracks in unheated garage drywall
- Use drywall with low moisture content, available from reputable brands.
- Follow the correct procedure when applying the joint compound
- Leave adequate expansion gaps between drywall boards
- Keep the garage well-ventilated and dry
Do I need moisture-resistant drywall in the garage?
Moisture-resistant drywall is optional if you plan to keep the garage dry and well-ventilated at all times. However, if moisture is likely an issue in the garage, consider using moisture-resistant drywall.
Can you drywall a garage without insulation?
Yes, you can drywall a garage without insulation, mainly for cosmetic purposes. The drywall will help tuck away utilities like electrical and communication cables, creating a cleaner look. But it will do little to stop hot or cold air from seeping into or out of the garage.
So, using drywall in a garage without insulation is ideal for places that experience constant, comfortable temperatures throughout the year.
If you live in a place that experiences all four seasons of the year, you may want to install insulation before the drywall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a vapor barrier for an unheated garage?
A vapor barrier is generally required in heated garages to prevent mold growth and frost. However, this is optional for an unheated garage with insulation. Many experts recommend allowing insulated, unheated garages to breathe.
What kind of drywall do you use for an unheated garage?
Moisture-resistant drywall is the preferred choice for an unheated garage. Such a garage may experience condensation, leading to moisture-related problems like mold growth and rot. A moisture-resistant option provides an effective way to avoid such issues.
While at it, the 2018 ICC Building Codes recommend at least ½-inch drywall on garage walls and 5/8-inch drywall on the ceiling for attached garages.
Can you put up drywall in the cold?
Putting drywall or joint treatment on cold or damp surfaces is not recommended. It is best to install drywall in room temperatures maintained at 40ºF and higher and not less than 50ºF when applying gypsum board adhesive and joint treatment.
Is it worth putting drywall in the garage?
Yes, drywall can help make the garage space brighter and cleaner, which is ideal for those who spend more time in the garage or use the space for entertainment and storage. The material can also increase the home’s resale value, protect the garage, and improve its service life.
Installing drywall panels can help cover unsightly utilities like wires and plumbing while also giving the unheated garage a finished look and providing it with insulation and soundproofing.
However, you must always keep the garage dry and well-ventilated or choose a moisture-resistant drywall.
We hope this article helps you out. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.