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What Are Your Walls Made Of?

Do you know what your home is made of? It’s easy to simply take a look at the house that you live in, and say that your home is comprised of floors, walls, and ceilings, but there is actually much more to it than that. While it would take hours to go over every material that makes your home a sustainable structure, it’s a good idea for homeowners to have a working knowledge of some of the most important parts of their home. While ceilings and floors are certainly important, it’s the walls that hold your home together. So, what are your walls made of? Knowing the answer to that question can give you a better appreciation of how your home was built and how you can protect it against the things that can lead to massive amounts of damage.

Inside the Walls of Your Home

When you look at the walls in your home, you see drywall, paint, and the finished product. However, none of those things are possible without the studs that make up the actual frame of your home. Unless you were on-site for the construction of your home, you probably didn’t see the lumber that holds the walls up, but there is a lot of wood inside the walls of your home. Not only does this lumber provide something for your drywall to be attached to, but it also holds up your ceilings and roofs while also providing side-support for your floors. The studs in your walls are some of the most important parts of your home’s makeup.

In most cases, 2x6s are used to build exterior walls while 2x4s are used for internal walls. Depending on where you live, there may be coding and zoning requirements that mandate the use of 2x6s for exterior walls. This is especially prevalent in homes in the northern part of the United States where temperatures get colder during fall and winter. However, even if that’s not the case, most builders opt for 2x6s for the perimeter walls while using 2x4s on the interior.

The primary reason for the use of 2x6s on exterior walls is found in the fact that it increases insulation options. When there is more space available, the person who builds your home can add more insulation, keeping your home more comfortable and more energy efficient. It’s also worth noting that using 2x6s on external walls improves the aesthetic of the property. When the studs are larger, the walls are “deeper.” This gives greater depth for windows and doors which provides a more classic, rich look for the property.

Whether discussing the interior walls that are framed by 2x4s or the exterior walls that are built with 2x6s, the studs are usually spaced apart by somewhere between 16 and 24 inches. 16-inch spaces will lead to a sturdier home because there is more lumber involved. This is especially important if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, or heavy windstorms.

The type of lumber that is used for framing your home also varies depending on the region in which you live. For instance, oak is a very sturdy, reliable wood, but it is rare in certain areas of the continental United States. Likewise, Western Red Cedar is a durable, moisture-resistant type of lumber, but is very costly and is not readily available in many regions of the US. That is why most standard studs are made of Fir. Douglas Fir is commonly used in homes in the west while Hem Fir is most popular in the east. Different species of Fir are not only used because of their structural integrity, but they are also generally more affordable than some of the other types of lumber on the market. Obviously, if you’re having a home custom built, you can opt for any type of lumber that you’d like. However, choosing commonly used types of lumber such as Fir allows you to get reliable studs at an affordable price.

Drywall and Sheetrock

The walls that you can see in your home are some of the most commonly misunderstood elements of the property. Many people often ask about the difference in drywall and sheetrock. Ultimately, there is no difference. Drywall is a term that describes a flat panel that is comprised of gypsum plaster that has been sandwiched between two sheets of thick paper. Sheetrock is just a specific brand of drywall.

Drywall is primarily made of mineral gypsum, a light-density rock that is abundantly present in natural deposits all around the world. While there is water naturally present in this gypsum, it is in crystalline form, which makes it dry. There are millions of tons of gypsum that is mined every year in the United States. This gypsum is then used most frequently in drywall and plaster of Paris.

Depending on the type of drywall that is being created, certain additives are mixed with the plaster of Paris. Once these additives are mixed in, small amounts of water are then added to create the correct consistency. A foaming agent and a coating are then added to give the drywall its final mixture. The slurry is then poured onto a layer of paper before a second layer of paper is added, creating the sandwich. The sandwich then passes through a series of rollers and dries out, resulting in the final drywall product that you see in your home.

Certain techniques can be used during the manufacturing process, creating different types of drywall. For example, there is sound-proof drywall that is used for studios, commercial spaces, and other rooms where noise needs to be minimized. You can also find fire-resistant drywall, which has certain chemicals in the initial slurry that allow the drywall to withstand incredibly high temperatures. Finally, you can also find water-resistant and mold-resistant drywall such as EnduraFlood. This type of drywall is able to resist water, which allows it to prevent the growth of mold.

When traditional drywall is exposed to water, mold can grow on it quickly. In fact, if left untreated, mold spores can begin to grow within 24 hours of the drywall becoming wet. Mold, which is a living organism reproduces rapidly, meaning that within a week, your home may have a widespread mold issue based on a single piece of wet drywall.

Drywall Mud and Spackle

Once the drywall in your home has been attached to the studs by specialized screws or nails, the installer will use some type of joint compound to seal the cracks between the sheets of drywall. This mud will also cover the holes created by the screws or nails. In the same way that installers can use different types of lumber and different types of drywall, there are also options out there involving the spackle that finishes the job.

Joint compound is a universal term that that describes drywall mud, which is also often referred to simply as mud. In addition to gypsum (the same mineral that is used in drywall), joint compound also contains limestone, mica, perlite, clay, and starch. Within the world of joint compounds, there are several options, so the person who installs your drywall will probably have a type that he or she prefers. Each of these different types of mud have their own pros and cons, so you can work with the installer to determine the best option for your home.

Spackle is a completely different type of joint compound that is used to finish the drywall installation process. While spackle has gypsum powder in it, it has its own combination of other binders that set it apart. In the same way that there are different types of drywall mud, there are different types of spackle. While all spackle has the same general consistency (it’s a lot like toothpaste), the type of binders that make up a particular tub of spackle lead to the contents having a different grade. These grades allow installers to determine what type of spackle they need to use.

Different types of spackle include lightweight, standard, vinyl, acrylic, and epoxy. While spackle is most commonly used on drywall, some of the higher grades of spackle can be used on brick or even the outside of a home. Obviously, if you’re just looking for a type of spackle that can be used on the drywall in your home, you won’t need to invest in these more expensive options that can withstand outdoor elements.

While you may look at your walls and see paint or wallpaper, there is much more to them than that. Carefully chosen by the person who built your home and installed your drywall, having reliable, sturdy walls can ensure that your home is able to withstand the test of time.


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