Does Wet Drywall Always Need to be Replaced?

Eddie Shekari
September 11, 2023
Dealing with water damage in your home can be a stressful and costly experience. One of the most common casualties of water damage is drywall. When drywall gets wet, it can become weakened and compromised, potentially leading to issues such as mold growth and structural problems. But does wet drywall always need to be replaced? In this blog, we’ll explore the factors that determine whether wet drywall should be replaced or if it can be salvaged through drying and repairs.

The Impact of Water on Drywall

Before delving into whether wet drywall can be saved, it’s crucial to understand the extent of the damage that water can cause to drywall. Since drywall absorbs water easily (as drywall is made of gypsum and paper), it is highly susceptible to water damage. When drywall gets wet, its paper covering can break down, and the gypsum core crumbles and weakens so that it can lose its structural integrity. This can lead to several issues, including:

Mildew and Mold Growth

When drywall is wet, it creates an ideal environment for mold and mildew to thrive. Mold growing on the surface of wet drywall can even penetrate deeper into the material, posing health risks.

Swelling and Warping

One sign of water-damaged drywall is that the walls can swell and warp, causing unsightly bulges and uneven surfaces on your walls and ceilings.

Weakened Structural Integrity

Water-damaged drywall loses its strength, compromising the stability of your walls or ceilings. In severe cases, it may even lead to structural issues.

damaged and peeling drywall

Factors Influencing Salvageability

Whether you can salvage wet drywall depends on several key factors:

Type of Water

The source of the water that caused the damage plays a significant role. Clean water from a burst pipe is less likely to cause severe damage than contaminated water from floods or sewage backups. Clean water damage may allow for drying and repairs, while contaminated water often necessitates replacement due to health risks.

Duration of Exposure

The longer drywall is exposed to water, the greater the damage it will sustain. If you address the issue promptly and begin drying procedures, you may have a better chance of salvaging the drywall. However, prolonged exposure increases the likelihood of mold growth and structural damage.

Extent of Damage

Assess the severity of the damage. Is it limited to a small area, or has a significant portion of the drywall been affected? Minor water damage is more likely to be salvageable, while extensive damage may require replacement.

Type of Drywall

The type of drywall used in your home can also impact its ability to withstand water damage. Standard drywall is more susceptible to water damage than moisture-resistant or mold-resistant drywall, which may have a higher chance of being salvaged.

Drying Wet Drywall

If you decide to try and salvage your wet walls, here are some steps you can take: 

Turn off the Water Source

Ensure that the source of the water leak has been stopped to prevent further damage.

person repairing drywall

Remove Damaged Sections

Cut away small amounts of damaged drywall using a utility knife or a drywall saw. Make sure to cut at least 12 inches beyond the visibly affected area to ensure that all compromised material is removed.

Inspect for Mold

After drying the walls and ceiling with high-volume fans, inspect the area for any signs of mold or mildew growth. If mold is present, it will need to be remediated following appropriate guidelines. If it becomes too much to follow guidelines, hire a professional to help with water damage restoration

Repair and Re-Patch

Once dry, repair the damaged area with new drywall patches, joint compound, and sanding as necessary. Finish by priming and painting the repaired section so the drywall feels and looks like the rest of the wall. 

Trusting the Pros to Protect Your Home

So, does wet drywall always need to be replaced? No, but when it does, replacing water-damaged drywall is no easy or cheap task, as drywall replacement can be costly, especially in the aftermath of flooding or other water damage in a home. When it comes to the complex task of addressing water damage and replacing drywall, the expertise of professionals can be invaluable. 

Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of water damage or simply want to safeguard your Houston home’s integrity, consider the assistance of Pro Painters to ensure successful drywall installation. Contact us today to learn more about our drywall installation services.

Free Estimate

Eddie Shekari

Eddie founded Pro Painters in 1995 to meet the growing need for high-quality residential and commercial painting needs in Houston. In nearly 20 years, Pro Painters has exponentially grown our client base, serving residents across the greater Houston area. Our core principles have helped us achieve the highest standard of workmanship and customer satisfaction. Our years of experience have allowed us to become an extension to our customers as the all-in-one solution for home makeovers.