Why Waterproof Drywall is Perfect for Your Garage

You’ve probably heard people talk about waterproofing their garage drywall: Why it’s crucial, how to do it, what materials you need, etc. 

The whole thing can be a bit much.

Buckle up because we’re about to make sense of it all. 

In this article, we’ll dive into why waterproofing your drywall is a must for wet environments like your garage or basement. 

You’ll learn the difference between water-resistant and waterproof drywall and several methods for doing it (with pros and cons). Most importantly, you’ll learn how to implement these solutions in your own garage. 

Quick Note: Drywall vs . Sheetrock

“Drywall” and “Sheetrock” are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle difference between the two terms.

Drywall is a generic term referring to the construction material used to create walls and ceilings. It’s also known as plasterboard, wallboard, or gypsum board, and it’s made by sandwiching gypsum plaster between two thick sheets of paper.

On the other hand, Sheetrock is a specific brand name of drywall produced by the U.S. Gypsum Company.

It’s essentially the same product as drywall. Still, it has been branded, much like how we refer to tissues as “Kleenex” or adhesive bandages as “Band-Aids.”

So, when people say Sheetrock, they’re referring to a type of drywall, just as when people say Kleenex, they’re referring to a type of tissue.

Why Waterproof Drywall in Your Garage?

Drywall, as good as it is, is susceptible to moisture damage. 

This can come from unexpected leaks, accidentally spilling from that can of paint or motor oil on your garage floor, or even just the humidity on a muggy summer day. 

You might think, “Well, what’s a little water?” 

The answer is “a whole lot of potential hassle.”

When moisture creeps into your drywall, it creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. This can lead to your drywall’s decay and rotting, manifesting as stains or structural damage. 

Picture this: You’ve spent an afternoon cleaning your garage with a pressure washer, only to find dark patches and bulges ruining your smooth garage walls a few weeks later. 

Annoying, right?

But it’s not just about keeping your garage looking good. Your health is at stake too. 

Moldy or damp drywall can be a significant health risk, leading to respiratory problems, allergies, or infection.

Damaged drywall is also a fire hazard. The damage reduces drywall’s fire resistance, potentially making a small garage fire catastrophic. 

Let’s not forget the potential financial risks. 

Repairing or replacing damaged drywall can burn a hole in your pocket, not to mention the time and energy you’d have to invest.

Waterproofing your garage drywall is like wearing a raincoat on a stormy day. It’s a proactive way to extend the life of your garage walls, safeguard your health, and save you from future expenses and stress.

Waterproof vs. Moisture-Resistant Drywall

When it comes to drywall, you’ll see both water-resistant and waterproof drywall, which can be confusing. Often, the same company will make both types of drywall.

Water-resistant drywall, often called greenboard, is designed to resist moisture to a certain extent. 

It’s manufactured differently from standard drywall. The core has a bit of wax mixed in, which helps to repel water. The outer layer is usually treated to make it more resilient to humidity. 

This makes it a solid choice for areas where it might be exposed to moisture but not in direct contact with water. It’s perfect for a garage where humidity can be higher.

On the other hand, waterproof drywall offers an even higher level of protection. 

Waterproof drywall is designed to keep water from penetrating the surface entirely.

For example, Gold Bond and Purple Drywall make mold resistant & moisture resistant drywall that’s used in areas where it will directly contact water, like showers or sinks.

Water-resistant drywall should do the trick if your garage has minor humidity changes but not significant water exposure. 

For instance, it can handle the occasional condensation from your car on a rainy day.

However, if your garage has direct exposure to water, like washing your car or in a flood zone, consider waterproof drywall. 

It has a higher resistance to water that will provide that extra layer of protection.

Either way, both types of drywall will give your garage a stronger defense against the damaging effects of moisture than standard drywall.

Pallet of waterproof drywall \ Sheetrock panels

Different Ways to Waterproof Drywall in Your Garage

As we talk about protecting your garage drywall from moisture damage, it’s worth noting that there are several methods you can use. 

Your choice will largely depend on the specifics of your garage, such as its current condition, the existing type of drywall, and how you use it. 

Waterproofing Primer

Let’s talk about waterproofing primer. This primer acts like a shield, stopping moisture from getting into a crack in your drywall. It sits between your wall and the paint, blocking any dampness.

One of its pros? It’s easy to apply. If you’re painting your garage, adding this primer is a cinch. Plus, it works on both painted and unpainted surfaces.

But it’s not perfect. It can’t handle big moisture problems alone. You’ll need a more comprehensive strategy for that. And remember, you still need a coat of paint over the primer. That means extra cost.

So, is waterproofing primer for you? If you’re painting your garage and have only minor dampness issues, it could be a simple, effective solution.


Next, consider sealants. These add another layer of protection against water by forming a waterproof barrier right on the surface of your drywall.

What makes sealants a good choice? They excel at creating a robust moisture barrier, as they’re designed specifically to repel water. Plus, they’re versatile, going on both painted and unpainted surfaces.

On the flip side, sealants aren’t a one-and-done solution. They wear out over time and will need reapplication now and then. They might also change the look of your drywall or paint, so be prepared for that.

In a nutshell, if you’re seeking an easy-to-use option and are fine with a bit of upkeep, a sealant could be just what your garage needs.

Waterproof Paint

Another solution worth considering is waterproof paint. Just as the name suggests, this is paint specially formulated with water-resistant additives. What you get is a two-in-one solution: fresh color for your garage, and at the same time, a guard against moisture.

The perks of waterproof paint? It serves a dual purpose by giving your garage walls a new color and protecting them from dampness. Plus, applying it is as easy as using regular paint.

On the downside, you might need several coats to ensure sufficient protection. Also, if your garage battles more severe moisture issues, waterproof paint might not be your best bet.

In a nutshell, if you’re planning to paint your garage walls and need protection against moderate moisture levels, waterproof paint can kill two birds with one stone.

Cement Board

Cement board could be the answer for those open to a more robust solution.

These formidable boards are made from cement and fiberglass, forming a solid barrier against moisture. They offer superior water resistance and can be installed over your existing drywall to provide an extra layer of high resilience.

So what makes cement boards a worthwhile consideration? They’re incredibly durable. Once installed, you won’t have to worry about regular maintenance.

However, installing cement boards can be labor-intensive, so you might need professional help to do it right. Also, the material and installation costs are higher than other options.

In summary, cement boards could be a sound long-term investment if you’re battling high moisture levels or are in the process of renovating your garage and aren’t shy of a bigger project.

Water-Resistant Tape

Water-resistant tape offers a fifth option, which is especially handy for those seeking a localized solution. This useful material is designed to seal the joints and edges of the drywall, defending against any ambitious water droplets attempting to infiltrate.

One of the significant advantages of water-resistant tape is that it’s well-suited for covering joints, corners, and edges, which are often the first points of leakage. Plus, it’s a breeze to apply, making it a manageable DIY task.

However, it’s important to note that this tape isn’t meant to waterproof large surfaces. Over time, the tape may peel off and necessitate reapplication.

Water-resistant tape could be a quick, straightforward solution to secure specific, vulnerable areas of your garage’s drywall.

Water-Based Urethane

Water-based urethane offers a final and comprehensive solution for waterproofing your garage’s drywall. It’s a protective coating applied to all sides and edges of the drywall before installation, ensuring every nook and cranny is safeguarded against water.

This approach boasts comprehensive coverage, transforming every drywall surface and edge into a waterproof zone. Additionally, it provides a sturdy and long-lasting defense against moisture once applied.

However, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. First, its application can be a bit more involved, as it needs to be applied to all sides of the drywall before it’s installed, which can be time-consuming.

Secondly, in terms of cost, urethane typically holds a higher price tag compared to options like paint or primer.

In summary, water-based urethane treatment might be your top choice if you’re installing new drywall and seeking a full-fledged, enduring solution against high moisture levels.

Just remember that this method requires application before installation, which could require more of your time.

When choosing a solution, look at your specific situation and budget. Consider the overall moisture situation in your garage and any future plans for the area. 

Some methods require more time, effort, or cost upfront but can save you from costly repairs or replacements down the line.

Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all when waterproofing your garage’s drywall.

Things to Consider Before Waterproofing Garage Drywall

Your garage can often become ground zero for moisture from rain, snow, car washes, spills, or occasional pipe leaks. 

This can wreak havoc on your drywall over time, which is why waterproofing drywall in your garage is so critical.

When choosing the proper method and material for waterproofing your garage’s drywall, you must consider your climate. 

Do you often find your garage humid, or is it typically dry? 

How you use your garage can also factor into your choice. 

For example, if your garage doubles as a workshop or a laundry room, you could use a more robust solution such as cement board or water-based urethane. 

While more labor-intensive or costlier, these options provide excellent moisture resistance.

On the other hand, if your garage is mainly used for parking or storage and you’re in a relatively dry climate, waterproof paint or sealant could be adequate. 

These options are often easier to install and less expensive while offering decent protection against moisture.

Waterproof Drywall for Your Garage: Wrapping It Up

Alright, we’ve covered a lot of ground here. 

Waterproofing your drywall is a wise decision for your garage’s longevity and creates a safer and healthier environment. It helps protect drywall from water damage and adds mildew and mold resistance. That extra protection also makes waterproof panels more fire resistant than standard drywall.

Remember, the method and material you choose largely depend on your garage’s unique needs and climate conditions. 

No one solution fits all, and that’s okay. Your garage is your space, and making it work best for you is most important.

The key takeaway here? Waterproof drywall doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. 

With a bit of insight and the right approach, you can tackle this task like a pro, keep that pesky moisture at bay, and transform your garage into a space you can be proud of.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.