Fireboard vs Drywall: What's the Difference?

Unfinished drywall in a home

When remodeling or building a new home, you might not think of fireboard as a preferred form of wall lining. Most people usually think about using standard drywall but fireboard has certain properties which could be hugely beneficial to the protection and insulation of your home. Consider some research into the possibilities of installing fireboard before you settle for regular drywall. You may find that there are certain benefits which suit your needs and requirements.

Fireboard (Fire Retardant Gypsum Board)

Fireboard is a specialized product which has a gypsum core and contains glass fibers and other non-combustible materials. The fibers act as reinforcement to keep the board from disintegrating as quickly as regular drywall. This combination makes for a solid barrier against the possibilities of fire. It is highly fire-resistant and when installed in the walls of your home, it can prevent a fire from spreading quickly from one room to another.


Drywall is the normally preferred method of interior walls and it offers a certain amount of insulation and protection. However, it is not as fire resistant as fireboard. Drywall is made from gypsum and acts well as a passive fire protection material. The gypsum in drywall contains water crystallizations in the form of hydrates. When drywall is exposed to heat or fire, the water is vaporized and therefore it retards heat. It will contain a fire in another room until the drywall water crystals have completely dissipated and dried out. This is when drywall becomes vulnerable to fire.


Drywall is very easily damaged if it is exposed to water. Its very construction is water-based and therefore, it is highly susceptible to damage in damp conditions. It can get moldy and this leads to warping so keeping it dry is highly important. Although drywall can be waterproofed using a process of covalent waterproofing, it is particularly vulnerable if this component is not present. Drywall is also easy to cut and can be sawn with a hand saw.

Whereas most average drywall must offer at least 60 minutes of fire resistance in hazardous situations, fireboard consists of ingredients that will prolong the resistance and offer a level of protection up to twice as long. However, if a home catches fire, it will not protect solely against it. Fireboard is more of a heat retardant and smoke retardant than a complete barrier.

The Best Choice?

Drywall and Fireboard are both manufactured in varying sizes of thickness and they can both be bought in lengths of eight, ten or twelve feet. Usually, however, fireboard has a different colored surface so that it can be easily distinguished from regular drywall. Both can be cut using regular drywall saws and tools and both can be used in the same situations. Fireboard can be cut and shaped in the same way that drywall can and therefore, the main differences between to two are in their compound properties and make up rather than their behavior as materials.