Is Drywall Ruined If It Gets Wet?

Stacy CookGeneral

Drywall, also known as gypsum board, is a standard material used in most modern buildings for its ability to create smooth and flat walls with minimal seams. Drywall though, is susceptible to damage. This is  especially true when it is exposed to water. Water damage can cause drywall to become soft, disintegrate, or warp. In this blog, we will explore whether drywall is ruined if it gets wet, how to repair water-damaged drywall, and how to prevent it from getting water damage in the future.


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Damage to Drywall. Drywall is a porous material that easily absorbs water, making it highly susceptible to damage when exposed to moisture. Moisture is absorbed not only by the surface of the drywall but also by the gypsum core material inside of the board. When water is absorbed, the gypsum will soften and become weak, disintegrating or breaking apart on touch. Mold growth may also develop within the porous material of drywall, posing unforseen health risks to the occupants of the building.

When drywall becomes wet, there are two main complications that can occur:

  1. Softening of the Gypsum Core Material. The gypsum core material of drywall is sandwiched between two sheets of paper. When water gets trapped between the paper and the gypsum core material, it can cause the gypsum to soften, leading to the paper buckling, bubbles occurring on the surface, and the drywall becoming exceptionally weak.
  2. Mold Growth. Mold growth is common in water-damaged drywall. It can be challenging to completely dry the interior of the drywall once it becomes wet, which can lead to mold growth. The longer the drywall remains wet, the higher the risk of mold. Mold growth can spread rapidly throughout the drywall, leading to significant structural damage, as well as health hazards to those exposed to the environment.

When is Drywall Ruined if it Gets Wet. Drywall is considered ruined if it has become extensively soft, weak, or disintegrated due to exposure to water. The paper exterior of the drywall may also become warped or discolored, indicating that it has become irreparably damaged by water.

When the drywall is partially damaged, rather than entirely ruined, experienced professionals can often repair it. In this case, specialist repair techniques will be employed to remove the damaged area, fill it in, and create a new surface. Such repairs must be done by certified professionals to ensure that the repair provides effective and lasting coverage.

How to Repair Water-Damaged Drywall. Repairing water-damaged drywall can be done, but it is always best to have experienced professionals handle the job. Here are the steps that an experienced professional will take:

  1. Identify the Source of the Water. The first step is to find the source of the water and stop the flow. The source of the water damage may come from a roof leak, a pipe burst, or a general flood. Once the source of the water damage is identified and fixed, the area should be dried out to help avoid future water damage.
  2. Remove the Damaged Area. Drywall that has become extensively damaged must be entirely removed to maintain a stable structure. This is typically done with the use of knives or other specialized tools for controlled demolition. Once the damaged area has been removed entirely, a new piece of drywall is normally installed in its place.
  3. Install a new piece of drywall. The new piece of drywall will need to be spackled, taped, and sanded. This process will help to create a new surface that matches the existing surface. The surface must be entirely dried and free of moisture to avoid future mold growth.
  4. Sand and Paint. Once the drywall and spackle have fully dried, the surface can be lightly sanded and painted, finishing it to the same standard as the original wall, as well as ensuring its suitability for future use.

How to Prevent Drywall from Becoming Water Damaged: Preventing water damage to drywall is the optimal way to avoid costly repairs, health risks and to maintain a functional and presentable home environment.

  1. Fix Leaks Promptly . As soon as you notice water is coming from anywhere it shouldn’t be, it is best to call in professionals to fix the issue as quickly as possible.
  2. Increase Ventilation. Proper airflow throughout your home can help to decrease the likelihood of water damage. Good ventilation can also help to prevent future mold growth.
  3. Regular Inspection. Regular inspections of your pipes and home will help to spot any water damage before it becomes an issue. A professional will be able to spot leaks, dampness, or other water damage concerns that may not be immediately visible to occupants.
  4. Waterproofing. Waterproofing your home can go a long way in preventing water damage. While it won’t completely eliminate the chances of water damage, it does help to prevent water damage to become extensive to the point of needing a full replacement of affected surfaces. 

Drywall is not entirely ruined when exposed to water, but water damage can weaken it, leading to disintegration, softening, or breaking apart. Water damage can also lead to mold growth and health problems if left untreated. The faster you respond to mitigate the water damage, the better your chance of avoiding more expensive repair bills.  And like most problems, prevention is the best answer.