Should you replace drywall if it gets wet? It’s a common conundrum and not an easy question to answer. As with many water damage issues, there are variables.

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Today we’re focusing on some of these variables. We’ll discuss some situations in which you definitely should replace your drywall. But we’ll also touch on other situations that you can fix easily – without tearing down the sheetrock.

Should you replace drywall if it gets wet?

Drywall should be kept as dry as possible. Hence the name “drywall.” Drywall is also referred to as “gypsum board” and is made of – you guessed it – gypsum. Other materials used in drywall include paper, clay, or resin. So, as you can see, drywall and water do not mix. When they do, the results can be disastrous. 

How tough is drywall?

If your basement floods and the drywall gets wet two or three inches up, yes, it will need to be replaced. There’s no getting around that. However, you may be dealing with a problem that’s less clear-cut. What if your drywall only gets damp? How much water can it handle before it needs to be replaced? There are several ways to determine this.

Wet or damp?

Let’s say you come home during a cold day to find that your window has dripped condensation down the wall. This is the first time this has happened. You’re worried, but since you caught it, you can fix it. You buy a dehumidifier and determine to find other ways to fight off window condensation. 

But maybe you come home and have a different reaction. What if this is the twentieth time this has happened to you? Maybe a former homeowner had this issue, as well, and left you to deal with soft, waterlogged drywall.

Bathroom with bathtub

Examine the evidence. Chances are you’ll find the answer to the “should you replace drywall if it gets wet?” question if you determine the age of a leak. If you accidentally splashed water on your wall and dried it promptly, don’t worry about replacing it. However, drywall that is subject to large amounts of steam in a bathroom for years upon years may require replacing.

How to tell if a leak is new or old

Leaks that suddenly appear on your ceiling or wall may not be a new problem. Whether they are from rain, a leaking toilet, or a bad pipe, the issue could have been festering long before it showed itself on the surface of your wall. It’s best to investigate before taking action.

The easiest way to tell if drywall is wet is by poking it. If it’s soft, it’s wet. If it isn’t soft, dry up the water and place a fan in front of the spot to help it dry even quicker. Another way to tell if an area is badly damaged is if there is mold present. Cut a hole in the wall to find out. If there’s mold, your drywall definitely needs to be replaced.

Ceiling leaks are tricky to deal with. Quite often they don’t show until after they’ve been developing for a while. The best way to tell if a ceiling or roof leak is new or old is to check your attic or crawl space. If there are rusty pipes or electrical fixtures, wet wood, or disintegrating insulation, you’re dealing with an old leak.  

Replacing drywall

If your drywall is beyond help, it’s time to replace it. And we’re going to give you a few tips for doing just that. But remember, if you don’t feel confident replacing it yourself, or if the job is a big one, call in an expert. They’ll get the job done right.

Wall insulation

When tackling the job yourself, first be sure to replace any damaged insulation behind the drywall. If you’re patching a smaller area rather than replacing an entire wall, make the patch about two times as large as the water damaged area. This will ensure an entirely dry, clean slate to work with.

Here’s another helpful tip if the area you’re replacing is in a bathroom or near a sink or window that drips often. Use greenboard. Greenboard isn’t entirely waterproof, but it is coated with water-resistant technology that will repel water and keep your home safe and dry for longer!

Keep that drywall dry

We hope this has answered your question “Should you replace drywall if it gets wet?” The answer is: it depends on the situation! And if you’re worried about handling water damage to more than just your drywall, check out our tips for tackling water damage if you can’t get ahold of the pros.