Sheetrock UltraLight Panels
Lightweight drywall panels add up to a whole lot less strain on your crew and on a house's framing.
USG’s Sheetrock UltraLight Panels represent probably the greatest improvement I’ve seen in my long career as a drywall contractor. Until the middle of 2010, when the new panels were introduced, my top request for drywall would have been to make it lighter. As the company says, UltraLight is “the greatest innovation in drywall since drywall.”
A 4×8 sheet of regular 1/2-in. drywall weighs about 60 lb. An UltraLight Panel weighs only about 41 lb. The weight difference really adds up: If I hang 60 4×8 sheets of regular drywall every day, I’m lifting about 9 tons each week. If I use UltraLight, I’m hanging only about 6 tons.
The panels look like ordinary drywall, with the same paper face. They cut and score the same, and there’s no difference when you’re setting screws or sanding. Because the new drywall is lighter, however, it’s much easier to maneuver and lift into place on a wall or ceiling.
UltraLight’s superior sag resistance (equivalent to 5/8-in. type-X drywall) also enables me to hang wallboard on ceilings with joists or rafters spaced 24 in. on center, which is becoming more common in energy-efficient construction. Although regular 1/2-in. drywall is approved for use on ceilings with 24-in. spacing, I had preferred to use either 1/2-in. ceiling board or 5/8-in. drywall in places where there was heavy or sagging insulation, wet ceiling textures, or high humidity. Those products are even heavier than regular 1/2-in. drywall.
My supplier charges 20¢ per sq. ft. for UltraLight drywall, compared to 18.5¢ per sq. ft. for regular drywall. For a house requiring 6000 sq. ft. of drywall, that’s an additional $90 in material. But that’s a cost I can absorb through increased efficiency.
The 1/2-in.-thick panels, for use in non-fire-rated applications, are available in standard lengths, including 8-, 10-, 12-, 14- and 16-ft. panels in 48- and 54-in. widths. Fire-rated 5/8-in.-thick panels are also available.