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Drywall Water Damage Repair and Replacement

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Irreversible drywall water damage occurs rapidly and if not dried promptly, it deteriorates and needs replacing. When drywall is exposed to flooding, it absorbs the water quickly and swells up. Moreover, a huge concern with wet drywall is the growth of mold and mildew and the associated health issues these pathogens bring.

Drywall is commonly used in both residential and commercial construction and is known by other names, such as sheetrock, wallboard and plasterboard, among others. These terms are variations of the same concept and can be used interchangeably. They refer to an interior wall made in the form of pre-constructed sheets or boards that are composed of various materials pressed together. Drywall can be made with components such as paper, fiberboard and plaster. Sheetrock is made of sand, water and gypsum, sandwiched between two layers of thick paperboards.

Visual Inspection

Because sheetrock or wallboard is used as an internal wall, it sometimes takes too long to spot drywall water damage. However, if water damage is suspected, a close inspection may reveal the mark where water has reached and saturated the drywall. In fact, drywall water damage will be apparent from the bulging or swelling of the board as well as its sogginess. The wetter the drywall is and the more water it absorbs, the softer and yielding it becomes. If drywall damage is on the ceiling rather than the wall, a drip, sag, or discoloration on the ceiling should alert homeowners to investigate the cause of water damage immediately.

Repair & Replacement

Since drywall absorbs water like a sponge, repair is only possible in the early stages of water damage. Quick drying of the drywall is crucial and using fans and a dehumidifier is recommended to accomplish that goal. In situations where water damage is minor, it is possible to get away with drying, taping, mudding and painting the wallboard.

At times, the damage may be hidden for a while and by the time it is finally discovered, it may be too late to dry and repair it. In this case, replacement rather than repair may be necessary. When drywall water damage is severe, professional water damage companies should replace the boards and disinfect the affected area as a precaution against mold. Handy people may decide to cut costs and replace damaged sheetrock themselves. However, replacing water-damaged drywall is not an easy project and should not be attempted by laypeople. Applying the layers of mud and smoothing them repeatedly is a very tedious and precise work that may need to be redone until satisfactory results are achieved.

Replacement Tips

  • There are different building codes that specify drywall requirements. Before beginning a restoration project, it is advisable to check these rules.
  • Drywall sheets are available in various sizes, widths and categories, depending on the project at hand. For example, green boards are used in kitchens and bathrooms because they are water resistant.
  • It is best to use a utility knife to remove the damaged drywall. It is a good idea to use even lines and to make sure the shape is geometric and easy to match, such as a square or rectangle.
  • Prior to drywall repair, it is necessary to fix the cause of water damage and dry the area thoroughly as well as clean it from any dust and dirt.
  • Once the affected area is removed, it is recommended to investigate and see if there is any further damage or mold behind the affected area. If insulation is wet and has absorbed water, it will need to be replaced.
  • When replacing the drywall, measuring and cutting it to fit the hole is important. Then the new drywall needs to be fitted in its place in the wall. It may be necessary to use a plywood board to support the drywall and anchor it.
  • The next step is to secure the drywall with tape all around the edges.
  • Several coats of mud, or plaster, need to be applied to the area; however, it is important to smooth out each application and wait until it dries before applying the next one.
  • Sanding is then necessary to smooth any rough edges or imperfections.
  • The final step is painting the repaired area to match the color on the wall.