Drywall undoubtedly cuts the mustard as an ideal way to finish your garage walls until moisture seeps through, forcing you to incur unexpected repair costs. Even worse, you may have to remove and replace the entire wall if the damage is extensive.
However, drywall’s vulnerability to moisture damage doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it. All you need to do is know how to protect the bottom of drywall in a garage, as it’s the most vulnerable portion, and you’ll be good to go.
Read on as we explore the effective ways to protect your drywall.
- Drywall Alternatives for Garage
- Pros and Cons of hanging drywall vertically
- Drywall or Plywood for Garage Walls
How to protect the bottom of drywall in a garage
Drywall has become a popular building material among garage owners, following the convenience it brings. As a garage owner, you can easily install drywall on the ceiling or walls because it can serve both purposes without making a dent in your pocket. Even better is that drywall is easy to manipulate, giving you an easy time cutting it out to repair holes or install recessed lighting.
However, without adequate protection, the estimable drywall barely stands the test of time when moisture or impact comes into the picture. Drywall’s hygroscopic nature is a major downside, especially in the garage, where the material is prone to contact with moisture that promotes mold growth, compromising the wall’s integrity.
Fortunately, you can prolong your drywall’s durability by focusing on the bottom, where the wall meets the floor, as this is the most vulnerable portion.
Here are some pointers on how to do so:
Waterproof the drywall
Water is drywall’s greatest enemy, and if you successfully prevent it from coming into contact with your wall, you’ll be good to go. You will need moisture-resistant paint and primer to effectively waterproof the bottom of your drywall.
Once you finish installing the drywall, prep the wall for painting, then go in with a quality, moisture-resistant primer that adheres to the wall properly. Subsequently, apply preferably two coats of moisture-resistant paint to achieve a perfect finish. Be sure to cover a substantial portion of the wall to eliminate any chances of the moisture level surpassing the paint.
More importantly, consider going for paint and primer resistant to mold growth to reinforce the drywall’s durability.
Use Garage Floor Trim/Baseboards
Your garage deserves a baseboard finish just as much as the rooms in your house do. If anything, by finishing the garage with baseboards, you get to protect the drywall from impact and water seepage while enhancing aesthetic appeal simultaneously.
Garage floor trim is ideal if your drywall extends too far down, near the floor. Consider opting for six-inch vinyl wall base trims in such cases, especially if your floor has PVC tiles or Polyaspartic flooring. All you need to do is attach the baseboard to the drywall using glue to seal the gap between the wall and the floor.
This way, you will have sealed the entry points of moisture, insects or dust particles that would otherwise affect the wall’s structural integrity. Also, put in mind that baseboards could still leave some tiny gaps through which moisture can pass. Therefore, consider covering these gaps using a quality silicone sealant for ultimate results.
Efficient as it is, Garage Floor Trim will not come to the rescue when water splashes high up your drywall owing to its limited height, and that’s where wainscoting comes into play.
Use a wainscoting treatment
Like Garage Floor Trim, wainscoting guarantees protection from moisture and impact while sprucing up your garage simultaneously. Even better is that, unlike baseboards, wainscoting panels can be about three feet high, offering protection from water that splashes on the upper parts of your drywall.
Wainscoting treatment tends to offer a great contrast between itself and the drywall, meaning you can even park more precisely rather than impacting your drywall while at it. All you have to do is opt for an ideal wainscoting treatment that suits your garage perfectly.
Punched aluminum wainscoting, for instance, blends with any floor type and offers aesthetic appeal and easy cleanup while safeguarding your drywall from impact simultaneously.
How to seal the bottom of a garage door
Garage doors often come with a bottom seal or weather-stripping that covers the opening between the door and the ground. However, like other garage door parts, the bottom seal can wear out after prolonged usage and is subject to replacement.
Cracking or shifting of the floor coupled with worn-out bottom seals eventually predispose your garage to insects, pests, snow, debris, moisture damage, you name it. Without sealing the bottom of your garage door early enough, you may end up dealing with unbearable repair costs.
That said, here are some steps to guide you through weather-stripping your garage door:
- First, get yourself a new weather seal and retainer. At the bottom of your garage door lies a metal strip with a track through which the weather seal passes. Be sure to inspect this metal strip for wear and tear. If it’s worn out, you will have to get a new retainer for ultimate results.
Put in mind that there are different types of garage door bottom seals. Ensure the weather seal is compatible with your retainer, or consult the manufacturer if in doubt.
- If your old retainer is still intact, detach it from the garage door using a screwdriver.
- Subsequently, pull the worn-out weather seal out of the retainer track.
- Clean the retainer track with a wet piece of cloth to eliminate debris and follow up by lubricating it with some soap in preparation for installing the new weather seal.
- Insert the weather seal into the retainer track as you subsequently pull it through the retainer.
- Get rid of the leftover weather seal by cutting using scissors, then cap the seal accordingly.
- Reinstate the retainer track with the bottom seal on the garage door, and you’re good to go.
Other than weather-stripping, you can seal the bottom of the garage door using a Threshold Seal. This is an ideal alternative if you have a sloppy garage door because the seal attaches to the floor instead. A sloppy garage door makes it easier for water to flow into the garage, causing damage.
With a threshold seal, you can keep rainwater or melted snow out of the garage. Threshold seals often come with an adhesive and offer more durability than weather-stripping. On the downside, you may have a hard time sweeping or cleaning the garage as the threshold seal tends to withhold the debris.
How to finish bottom of drywall in garage
You may wonder whether it’s necessary to finish the bottom of the drywall in the garage, especially if you only use the garage for storage. Ideally, drywall is mainly designed to protect your garage thanks to its impeccable features, including fire resistance.
However, for drywall to serve its purpose, you have to safeguard its integrity by offering protection against impact and moisture damage. If anything, finishing the bottom of drywall goes a long way in enhancing the durability of your garage or its contents. The aesthetics that follow only come as a bonus.
Even better is that almost everything can become an exciting DIY process when it comes to drywall.
With that said, let’s dive into some of the effective ways through which you can finish the bottom of your drywall.
1. Use Waterproofing Paint
Applying waterproofing paint at the bottom of your drywall helps prevent water seepage while giving your walls some character. Be sure to get yourself quality oil-based paints that exhibit proper adherence for ultimate results.
These paints often come with detailed instructions on how to use them to maximize convenience. Usually, you will have to clean the wall and prep it before painting. Additionally, applying one or two coats of primer should precede introducing a layer of paint.
Once the primer is dry, you can go over it with at least two coats of paint until you achieve your desired coverage. More importantly, ensure the waterproofing primer and paint cover a substantial portion of the wall just in case moisture finds its way too high above the wall. You might as well cover the entire wall if you have enough waterproofing paint and primer.
2. Install a Metal/Rubber Strip
Metal and rubber materials are known to be moisture-resistant and could come in handy in maintaining the drywall’s structural integrity. Consider installing an L-shaped strip along the bottom of the drywall to help prevent moisture from seeping into the wall. All you need is drywall mud to help secure the strips to the base of the wall, and you’re good to go.
3. Use Baseboards
Baseboards or garage floor trim can offer the utmost protection of the base of your drywall against moisture. They are often made of vinyl or rubber, which exhibit superior moisture-resistant qualities.
However, these boards can only go as high as six inches, leaving the rest of the drywall exposed to moisture and impact damage. Alternatively, you could customize the boards to your desired height and use them to finish the bottom of the walls.
How Do You Waterproof the Bottom of Drywall in a Garage?
Even though most hardware stores today offer water-resistant drywall, this material isn’t entirely immune to moisture damage. Therefore, despite installing water-resistant drywall, you may want to waterproof the material to reinforce its durability.
Fortunately, there are various ways through which you can waterproof your drywall. For instance, you could use waterproofing paint and primer as follows:
Step 1: Prep the wall
Prepping entails cleaning the wall to eliminate debris that would otherwise prevent the paint or primer from adhering to the wall effectively. You could use a wet cloth to wipe off the dust for the best results. Afterwards, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you may or may not have to wait until the wall dries before introducing the primer.
Step 2: Apply the waterproofing primer
Follow up by introducing the waterproofing primer, then spread it out on the wall using a paint roller. You may use a paintbrush to spread the primer onto hard-to-reach areas. Again, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, you can apply a second coat.
Step 3:Apply waterproofing paint
Similarly, apply preferably two coats of waterproofing paint onto the drywall. You could add more coats until you achieve your desired outlook, then allow the wall to dry. Be sure to paint within a sufficient distance from the floor for maximum protection from moisture in the event of water pooling.
Use garage wainscoting panels. Wainscoting panels can cover up to three or more feet from the bottom of the wall upwards. They not only protect your drywall from water that splashes as you clean vehicles in the garage but also go a long way in sprucing up the wall. The panels are also easy to clean and maintain.
You could also use waterproofing primer/paint and reinforce it with garage wainscoting panels for utmost immunity from moisture damage. This way, the wainscoting panels will come into play if the waterproofing paint fails. Even better is that this tactic adds a touch of elegance to your garage while increasing its value in the long run.
Will Garage Floor Trim Protect the Bottom of Drywall?
Yes, installing Garage Floor Trim is, in fact, one of the most effective ways to protect the bottom of drywall. It even graces you with a variety to choose from as it comes in different materials, including Thermoplastic Vinyl, Thermosetting Rubber and Thermoplastic Rubber. Each of these materials is sufficiently waterproof and can prolong the durability of your walls.
Rubber, for instance, is known for its unparalleled tensile strength and impeccable flexibility. For this reason, synthetic rubber can effortlessly bounce back from any impact on the garage walls. Garage floor trim made of rubber is ideal if your garage wall is at a high risk of heavy impact from vehicles or equipment stored in the garage.
Thermoplastic vinyl is also as effective owing to its resilience and resistance to corrosion. It’s an ideal go-to if you’re working on a tight budget because it is relatively affordable. These garage floor trim materials also come in various colours and designs.
However, the baseboards only go as high as six inches unless you customize the boards yourself. That said, unless you have a cupboard or a pile of items stacked against the wall, a garage floor trim will not suffice.
The higher parts of the drywall will still be at risk of impact or water splashing as you clean equipment in the garage. If this is the case, you may want to go for waterproofing paint in addition to garage floor trim for ultimate protection.
How to Finish Garage Walls Without Drywall?
Gone are the days when homeowners left their garage walls unfinished or hid them behind shelves or cabinets. Garages today can be used for other purposes rather than simply serving as storage space. You can choose to reinvent your garage walls to spruce up the space and make it your new chill spot or home gym.
Fortunately, there are many ways through which you can give your garage space some character, and drywalling is only one of them. You can choose to take the road less travelled by opting for alternative ways to finish your garage walls which include:
Painting is an ideal yet simple way to finish your garage walls. You can choose to paint the walls regardless of whether they are made of drywall, cinderblocks, concrete, brickwork, you name it. Anything goes when it comes to painting, and the good news is that you can make it an adventurous DIY project by exploring a wide range of colours.
All you have to do is ensure you go for quality paint and use a sealant before painting to prevent the paint from seeping into the walls. However, painting is relatively less durable and will not suffice in frequently used garages prone to moisture exposure.
Storage Panels, Pegboards or Slatwall
Storage panels are for you if you intend to create more storage space or declutter the garage and make it more presentable. Pegboards and slat boards grant you the liberty to hang almost anything on the walls, ranging from lightweight cables to heavy-duty equipment.
Pegboards are ideal for hanging lightweight items, while slot boards can even bear the weight of your lawn mower. Additionally, installing storage panels entails a DIY process, and unlike wall shelving, pegboards and slot boards are flexible, and you can easily move them from one section to another.
These panels also offer limitless customizing options, as you can paint them or install ribbon lights to add an aesthetic appeal. Their major downside is that they are relatively less protective and have no insulation properties.
Wood paneling is a way to go if you reside in a cold area because it tends to make the garage space warmer. They mostly come with a standard height of eight feet and a width of about four inches. However, these dimensions vary depending on the panels you choose.
Even better, they are easier to install than drywall, and you can easily manipulate the panels by drilling through them to achieve more storage space. Be sure to go for quality wood panels that are ready to paint for convenience. More importantly, consider installing plasterboard panels to provide support between the studs.
Plywood and OSB can do the trick if aesthetics aren’t among your primary goals. This doesn’t mean you can’t make the walls appealing, as you can always choose to stain or prime and paint them. Plywood panels tend to offer greater strength and structural stability compared to OSB. However, unlike wood paneling, plywood may fail to hold up when you drill through to gain more storage space or when there’s excessive exposure to moisture.
As the name implies, Oriented Strand Board panels feature strands that align in the same direction, offering a smooth finish. OSB guarantees durability and structural strength and can withstand the impact of drilling nails and storage units onto the walls, unlike plywood.
Either way, both Plywood and OSB are ideal options if you’re on a tight budget, and they offer DIY installation with various customization options into the bargain.
Metal is a good alternative to drywall or wood materials because it tends to counter the latter’s weaknesses, especially in terms of moisture resistance. It comes in various designs, including grates, steel, aluminium and diamond plates, each of which is sufficiently durable.
Some options, such as aluminium-plate panels, don’t corrode and are therefore recommended if your garage is frequently exposed to moisture. One major downside is that some designs can be expensive, and if you need to drill through for extra storage space, you may incur additional costs to acquire metal screws. Fortunately, you can always opt for reclaimed metal, which is durable as well.
A video showing how to install a drywall.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Should I put baseboard in garage?
Yes, but with reinforcement. Baseboards go a long way in protecting the bottom of drywall in the garage from water puddles originating from raindrops or melted snow. More importantly, baseboards are a must-have if your drywall panels are too close to the floor. Not only do they safeguard the walls’ structural integrity, but they also enhance the aesthetic appeal of the garage.
However, baseboards can only cover up to six inches of your garage walls. This means that the higher parts of the walls are still vulnerable to impact and moisture damage, which is why you need reinforcement. The reinforcement, in this case, could be waterproofing paint or wainscotting panels.
In as much as putting baseboards in the garage is recommended, consider priming and painting the rest of the wall or, better still, cover the higher sections of the walls with wainscotting panels to protect the walls from impact and exposure to moisture. In this way, you will prevent moisture from seeping through the bottom of the wall while protecting the upper part.
Q2. Can you use drywall in an unheated garage?
Yes, you can. Drywall can survive almost anything, provided you keep moisture at bay. This entails protecting the bottom of drywall from moisture damage and ensuring there’s adequate ventilation in the garage to minimize humidity.
The major risk of using drywall in an unheated garage is the increased possibility of cracking when temperatures drop. Fortunately, you can prevent cracking by ensuring that you meet the following conditions during installation:
- Opting for good quality drywall
- Leaving expansion gaps at the joints to allow room for expansion and contraction
- Ensuring there’s proper ventilation in the garage to control humidity
- Protecting the bottom of drywall using baseboards, wainscotting panels or waterproofing paint
Otherwise, drywall should suffice in an unheated garage. If anything, using drywall in an unheated garage is advantageous because it allows you to install insulation later. Drywalling leaves a cavity between the drywall itself and the garage wall to accommodate insulating materials.
Q3. Should you install mold-resistant drywall in garage?
Yes, you should. While standard drywall may suffice for your living space, the garage is better off with mold-resistant drywall. The garage is more vulnerable to damage resulting from moisture exposure, and drywall’s porous nature only aggravates the situation.
Moisture creates a conducive environment for mold growth, which could have detrimental effects on the garage walls. In worst-case scenarios, you might even have to take down and replace the entire garage wall. More importantly, exposure to mold spores affects your health as it could cause allergic reactions, fatigue, or respiratory and heart problems.
Investing in mold-resistant drywall is, therefore, worth the trouble. It may not guarantee the wall’s immunity against mold growth, but it minimizes the effects of mold growth compared to standard drywall.
You can also reinforce it with quality mold-resistant waterproofing paint for ultimate results. Although more costly, using mold-resistant drywall will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Q4. How much does a drywall garage cost?
The cost mainly varies depending on the size of your garage. The average cost for drywalling a 2 to 2-5 car garage is approximately $2900. It could cost $2400 on the lower side and up to $3400 on the higher side, depending on various factors. Garage drywall installation could cost you as low as $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot, including the insulation cost.
The cost could lie more on the higher side if you opt for professional installation services or choose to install the drywall on both the ceiling and the garage wall. This cost also varies depending on the type of drywall you choose. For instance, the cost of mould-resistant drywalls often exceeds that of standard drywall by about fifty percent. The height of your garage walls also plays a crucial role in determining the cost.
Either way, the cost of the drywall itself, installation materials, and installation cost will barely exceed $3400. If you own a standard-sized garage and choose to perform a DIY installation using standard drywall, you may save up to a thousand dollars.
Q5. Do I need a vapour barrier in my garage walls?
The necessity of vapour barriers has been known to cause controversy among homeowners. However, the answer to whether or not you need a vapor barrier in your garage walls is dependent on three main factors:
- The climatic zone in question
- Whether your garage is heated or not
- Your jurisdiction’s building code
Water vapour travels from a warm area with high humidity to a cold area with lower humidity. Therefore, residing in a cold climatic area means that the inside of your garage will exhibit higher humidity than the outside, causing the vapour to travel through the walls as it escapes the garage. This predisposes your walls to moisture, so you should consider installing a vapor barrier if this is the case.
A heated garage also exhibits warmer temperatures, increasing the likelihood of vapour travelling through the walls. The vapour might be too little to cause any significant damage, and you can therefore disregard the vapour barrier. However, you can never be too careful and if you prefer taking extra precautions or are in a position to install a vapour barrier, go for it!
More importantly, if your jurisdiction’s building code requires you to install a vapour barrier, you automatically have to do so. Be sure to check your jurisdiction’s regulations to avoid any slip-ups.
Q6. Should drywall touch the floor?
Drywall should not touch the floor as it comprises hygroscopic material. It would be best to leave a half-inch gap between drywall panels and the floor to prevent them from coming into contact with moisture.
Otherwise, moisture will find its way through your garage wall and compromise its integrity. Leaving a gap between drywall and the floor also gives room for expansion to prevent the wall from cracking.
Q7. Which is better, vinyl or rubber wall base?
A rubber wall base is ideal for garages prone to excessive moisture exposure. It tends to offer better water resistance compared to vinyl. Rubber also offers minimal maintenance and is easier to clean than vinyl.
Vinyl would suffice if your garage is less exposed to moisture and you’re on a tight budget. It’s also the way to go if you prioritize aesthetics and don’t mind regular maintenance.
Thanks to its affordability, flexibility and ease of installation, drywalling your garage is an ideal way to finish the walls. However, the material is relatively delicate and requires you to invest more in protecting it from moisture damage to prolong its durability.
We hope that this article has sufficiently equipped you with knowledge on how to protect the bottom of drywall in a garage to save you the trouble of having to repair or replace the walls.