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Water resistant gypsum panels at Newburg Field, New York 2014 © Daniel FriedmanGypsum Panels, Water Resistant on Building Exterior Walls & Roofs

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Gyp-rock and other gypsum or plasterboard panels used for building wall & roof sheathing:

This article describes the use and durability & history of water resistant gypsum panels used in construction of building walls & roofs.

We include advice for renovating or repairing gyp-rock sheathed buildings and a discussion of the mold resistance of this material.



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Gypsum board building exterior wall sheathing - history, description, age of use

Gypsum board wall sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman Gypsum board wall sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

[Click to enlarge any image]

Gypsum board has been used for non-structural wall sheathing (photo at above left) and even roof sheathing on buildings (photo at above left). Above is a row of 1940's buildings constructed at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, New York, apparently as military housing.

Some of these structures are still in use while others (foreground) are being demolished.

Originally a brick veneer covered the structure, behind which was this black paper-covered gypsum board sheathing. An ongoing demolition project ca 2012-2014 has removed the brick veneer from several of these buildings, leaving the gypsum-board sheathing exposed to the weather.

Gypsum board exterior wall sheathing under demolition (C) Daniel Friedman Gypsum board exterior wall sheathing under demolition (C) Daniel Friedman

Look closely at the photo at above-left [click to enlarge] and you'll see that the interior wall (visible as white through the hole in the gyp-rock exterior) appears to be cement asbestos millboard.

At above right, from a different but similar-aged building, also located in New York State, is the same water-repellent sheathing stamped as in compliance with ASTM Standard ASTM C79/C79M-04a.

1.1 This specification covers gypsum sheathing with a water-resistant core, which is designed to be used as a sheathing on buildings.

Note 1—Specification C 1280 contains application procedures for gypsum sheathing board.

According to ASTM, this specification was withdrawn in December 2004 and replaced by Specification C 1396/C 1396M for Gypsum Board. The standard itself does not discuss asbestos - at least not in material at the ASTM website.

See ASBESTOS in DRYWALL where we discuss this wallboard further.

Current gypsum board or wallboard standards pertinent to these products include ASTM C1278 / C1278M - 07a(2011) (fiber-reinforced gypsum board) and ASTM C1396 / C1396M - 14 (standard specification for gypsum panels).

Gypsum board wall sheathing (C) Daniel FriedmanDespite having been exposed to full weather in a northern U.S. climate for at least two years, the gypsum board sheathing on the under-demolition buildings at Stewart Field was remarkably intact except for having been smashed about by the demolition crew. Below we include a photograph of the gypsum board sheathing in cross-section.

On buildings where gypsum board was used to cover walls or roofing (photo at left), for structural stiffness we expect to find either plywood or let-in bracing nailed at the corners of building walls.

Initial versions of this product have not performed well on buildings where they might be exposed to dampness or leaks.

We have found this material installed under asphalt roof shingles, hardboard siding, and other exterior siding materials.

Gypsum board continues to be marketed as a less costly alternative to plywood or OSB building sheathing.

These panels are intended for use under brick veneer and stucco exterior building wall finishes.

Later versions of the material are called cementious board sheathing and can be expected to have been treated with water repellant chemicals.

Gypsum board used as exterior sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

Producers of gypsum panels used for building sheathing and interior wall and ceiling coverings, including gypsum board products that contained asbestos include:

Georgia Pacific Co. (Densglas gold™)

US Gypsum Co. (Fiberock™) US Gypsum Company, founded in 1901, produced a wide range of gypsum board panel and wall or ceiling products including acoustical ceiling coverings and coatings that contained asbestos between 1920 and 1978.

National Gypsum Company (Gold bond™). National Gypsum, currently named NGC and headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, has manufactured building products, including gypsum wallboard since its founding in 1926.

The National Gypsum company filed for bankruptcy status in 1990, emerged from bankruptcy status in 1993, filed for bankruptcy a second time in 2002 and reorganized in 2003.

Asbestos was used in a number of National Gypsum Gold Bond™ gypsum board products produced between 1950 and 1970.

Asbestos was not used in National Gypsum gypsum-board products after that year. See GOLD BOND IB ASBESTOS? for details.

Our photo (left) shows a close up of gypsum sheathing board used on building exterior walls and on some roofs.

Georgia Pacific's DensGlas™ exterior building sheathing includes this product description: "The product features a moisture-resistant core and enhanced fiberglass mats, instead of paper facings, to resist the effects of moisture exposure during and after construction.

It is so weather-resistant that Georgia-Pacific backs it with a 12-Month Weather Exposure Limited Warranty. " The company indicates that contemporary gypsum board sheathing such as their DensGlas™ product is intended to serve as a building " substrate behind brick, siding, EIFS, stucco and other permanent claddings."

Watch out: OPINION: unless your building is only expected to last 12-months, you should not leave gypsum board exposed to the weather.

In fact few building sheathing products are intended to be left exposed to weather. For example, OSB sheathing board also deteriorates if it is repeatedly wet.

See ASBESTOS LIST of PRODUCTS for a comprehensive list of building products that contained asbestos.

Also see ASBESTOS PRODUCING COMPANIES for a most-complete list of companies that produced products containing asbestos

History of Popular Use of Gypsum Board Exterior Sheathing

Gypsum board exterior wall sheathing or roof sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

We estimate that from 1942 to 1965 gypsum board was used as exterior wall sheathing on a variety of buildings, especially low-cost structures and in panelized construction as we explain along with our photographs shown below.

We also find gypsum board sheathing used on some roofs, believe it or not.

In some applications a water repellent paper was used to improve the product's durability, as we show in this wall cavity side photograph of identifying marks on gypsum board sheathing.

Gypsum board wall sheathing bracing (C) Daniel Friedman

When gypsum board was used for exterior wall sheathing, as we show in this interior photo (above left), let-in cross bracing was required at building corners.

Gypsum board wall sheathing bracing (C) Daniel Friedman

The white paint on the wall cavity side of the gypsum board shown in this photo was added during building renovations to address water damage and to improve water resistance.

Notice the pair of wall studs in the left hand photo? That stud pair marks the abutment of two panelized wall sections in this building. The corner panels were built flat in the panelized home factory and measure just 1/2" under 8' x 4'. Larger 8' x 8' wall panels were also produced and were used for this home.

Printed identification number on drywall (C) Daniel FriedmanThese details permit the conclusion that this home was constructed using pre-fab exterior and interior wall panels, all clad with gypsum board that was glued to the wall studs for extra strength.

Our photo at above right shows additional bracing that was incorporated into the gypsum-clad wall panel bottom, along with an assembly wire.

Details of this panelized construction home are at PANELIZED CONSTRUCTION

An example of a drywall/gypsum board identification number appear on this 1950's product shown at left. This is another example of gypsum board used for exterior wall sheathing.


Mold growth on the wall cavity side of drywall is common when there have been leaks into the wall cavity.

Our photo below shows mold growth on the wall cavity side of gypsum board used as exterior wall sheathing on a 1960's condominium in New York.

Moldy drywall (C) Daniel Friedman

See SAMPLING DRYWALL for more information about mold growth on drywall and gypsum board products.

Also see MOLD-RESISTANT BUILDING PRACTICES and  MOLD PROOF DRYWALL? You Must Be Kidding!

Gypsum board sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman Gypsum board sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

The photographs above show two different gypsum board wall sheathing products that employ a textured paper surface. At right is a modern product found in a home built in the 1990's.

Question: Renovating home with GypRoc Sheathing

Gypsum board exterior sheathing salvaged from military buildings, Stewart AFB, Newburgh NY (C) Daniel Friedman 2014 Exteriror gypsum board or gyprock sheathing (C) Daniel Friedman

(Sept 9, 2012) Derek said:

I am doing a renovation on my home (built in the mid 1950's) and have come across an exterior sheathing product called Gyproc Sheathing made by a company called Gypsum, Lime and Alabastine in Canada.

It appears to be a drywall type product with a black paper coating. The entire exterior of the home is sheathed in this material. My question is whether you are familiar with this product and whether it contains asbestos.

Reply:

Yes indeed, Derek. A number of buildings used exterior wall sheathing made of a weather-resistant gypsum board, as we discuss and illustrate here.

In the photo my wrinkled hand is showing a cross section of gypsum board that was installed as exterior sheathing on military housing built at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, NY in the 1940's. More about this material is in the article above.

Question: Question about Homasote sheathing from 1940s. Mold problems on gypsum board exterior building sheathing?

Gypsum board wall sheathing (C) Daniel FriedmanWas there a Homasote product used in the early 1940s on the exterior of houses that looks like sheet rock? How long does this last for?

If it is still on the house, could it contain mold due to lack of sunlight?

Was there "code" at some point that would have forced individuals who were to replace vinyl siding on the house over these boards to replace with proper products after a certain date? Thank you, K.B.C.

Reply: Properties of Homasote® type fiberboard compared with gypsum-based exterior wall & roof sheathing boards

Homasote® fiberboard sheathing is a wood fiber product, not a gypsum or plasterboard product.

However there were indeed gypsum-based sheathing board products used on buildings both as wall sheathing (under siding and over studs) as well as roof sheathing.

There was no building code that required building owners to replace vinyl siding over gypsum board exterior sheathing - at least not because of the material's presence. A specific building might be so severely damaged from leaks or flooding that its sheathing needed to be repaired or replaced in part or entirely.

Having inspected quite a few buildings that used this material, my OPINION is that gypsum board exterior sheathing has proven surprisingly durable so long as it was kept dry.

Wet fiberboard or insulating board material can become soft, and also one might find mold growth on the paper backing of the gypsum board.

We describe two different exterior sheathing product types

FIBERBOARD SHEATHING Sheathing Celotex Homasote & Other

SHEATHING, GYPSUM BOARD Gypsum or plaster-based ceiling or wall covering or similar products that were sometimes used as exterior wall sheathing

At FRAMING MATERIALS, Age, Types we describe the history of and different types of building framing and sheathing materials.

Mold growth on gypsum board building wall sheathing?

About mold growth: the simple absence of light is not sufficient to cause problematic mold growth in building cavities. Water or high moisture would be a requirement for nearly all indoor mold contamination.

And indeed I have found mold growth on paper backer on plaster-board exterior wall sheathing, in the wall cavity in buildings where there had been leaks into those spaces.

So if your home's walls were leaky (from ice dam leaks at the eaves, from leaks around windows or doors, from wind-blown rain penetrating damaged siding, etc) then there might be problematic mold growth on those surfaces - in the previously or currently wet areas.

Whether or not this problem deserves investigation and remediation is not something one can decide without more detailed information.

See MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE for help in deciding if in your particular case hiring a competent professional to inspect and test the building is justified.

If your home has been damaged by flooding and is built with an exterior wall covering of brick or stone veneer, see BRICK VENEER WALL REPAIRS in FLOOD PRONE AREAS

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Continue reading at BRICK VENEER WALL REPAIRS in FLOOD PRONE AREAS for a discussion of repair options for brick veneer walls, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see GYPSUM BOARD SHEATHING FAQs - questions & answers posted originally at this page

Or see DRYWALL, FIBERBOARD, PLASTER INTERIORS

Or see FIBERBOARD SHEATHING IDENTIFICATION

Or see FLOOD DAMAGE CLEANUP & REPAIR GUIDE - home

Or see PLASTER TYPES & METHODS in BUILDINGS

Or see SHEATHING, FIBERBOARD Celotex Homasote & Other

For plaster type surfaces used on building exteriors, see STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION

Or see SHEATHING, EXTERIOR PRODUCT INDEX

Or see this

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SHEATHING, GYPSUM BOARD at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to ASBESTOS HAZARDS

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INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to BUILDING INTERIORS

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