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Importance of drywall paper backing material? Am I compromised?

drewintoledo | Posted in General Questions on

Curious how important the backside paper on drywall is for structural integrity, vapor control, or other reasons?
Reason I ask is I’ve been hanging 5/8″ with “loose” backing paper and the more I consume the stack of drywall the worse it’s getting.
I believe the glueing machine must have had problem or just plub run out before quailty caught it.  
The front of the drywall appears just fine.   This is 5/8 and I will have about 20″ blown in insulation on top in the attic.  
Rafters are 24″ O.C.
Please advise.

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  1. Expert Member


    Has there been any rain on the drywall that you know of? Ive seen it separate because of that, but never just because it ran out of glue. There’s a first time for everything though!

    If you can get it up without it cracking, it’s probably ok. The paper doesn’t really add all that much strength once installed, and even if it did, it would be on the compression side of the ceiling. I’m only wagering here, but I’d say the primary purpose is to provide strength during transportation and handling.

    1. drewintoledo | | #9

      No rain. It was a bad production run.

  2. scottperezfox | | #2

    The back really doesn't matter. It gets walked on, drawn on, etc. during construction but as long as the main gypsum material is in-tact, you'll be fine.

    The only problem might be if major chunks are missing, which would not allow a screw to grab all the way through, and might lead to cracking and off odd things down the line. Basically, use panels of drywall that are pristine, but the paper backing is not part of the performance per se.

  3. DC_Contrarian | | #3

    Drywall is pretty vapor open, to the extent it acts as a vapor barrier it's because of the paint that's applied to it so not having the backing wouldn't affect that. Similarly, the backing paper won't affect its air-tightness.

    Where I do think it's an issue is structural strength, drywall with one side removed will crack significantly easier. I think there's a substantial chance that this drywall will crack or buckle in use.

    1. Expert Member
      BILL WICHERS | | #4

      The paper is part of the structure, making a drywall panel somewhat similar to a mini-sized SIP. The paper is important for the panel's structural strength.

      If this is a shipment of new material, try returning it. If the material is seperating as part of a manufacturing defect, you shouldn't have any trouble getting it replaced.


  4. Expert Member


    Enough things go wrong with a house over time that it just doesn't make sense to install materials you know are defective.

  5. walta100 | | #6

    Seems silly not to ask for the clearly defective materials to be replaced.


    1. DC_Contrarian | | #7

      I can see the appeal of keeping the construction schedule moving. But drywall should be something you can replace in one day.

  6. drewintoledo | | #8

    oh the drywall is definately being replaced. I was more curious about structural integrity than anything.
    here you go:

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