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Q.My clients are concerned about mold, and want the walls and ceilings of their remodeled basement to be covered with paperless drywall instead of regular gypsum board. Are there any tricks to installing and finishing this material, or is it treated just like standard drywall?

A.Myron Ferguson, a drywall contractor in Galway, N.Y., and moderator of the JLC Online drywall forum, responds: The paperless drywall I’ve used — DensArmor Plus ( — cuts and fastens just like regular drywall, but instead of an organic paper face it has an inorganic fiberglass mat covering. Cutting it sends bits of fiberglass into the air and onto the skin, so I always wear a long-sleeve shirt and a dust mask when I’m hanging it.

To reduce the potential for mold growth and maintain a completely paperless wall surface, the maker recommends using fiberglass mesh joint tape with a setting-type compound for at least the first coat. Vinyl corner beads are recommended for inside corners.

Earlier versions of DensArmor Plus seemed to have a very rough surface texture. Although the new versions are smoother, they still feel a little like 200-grit sandpaper if you rub your hand across them. Applying a skim coat of joint compound over the entire surface after all of the joints and fasteners have been taped and sanded to a Level 4 finish leaves a thin film that fills in all of the little nooks and crannies in the facing. Once everything is sanded smooth, you have a Level 5 finish.

If this sounds like a lot of extra work, keep in mind that — with both paper-faced and paperless drywall — the taping and sanding process produces a lot of different textures. Areas that are covered with compound — like seams, fasteners, and inside corners — become very smooth after sanding. Areas where the face of the drywall has been sanded (usually along the edges of taped areas) have a rougher texture, since the sanding process raises the fibers of the paper or fiberglass facing. If the sandpaper used is too coarse, the difference in textures becomes even greater. Plus there may be untouched areas of drywall, which have yet another texture and porosity. All of these differences can become much more noticeable when the walls or ceilings are finished with a paint that has some sheen, especially if the light hits it just right.

Mold-resistant paperless drywall is a specialty product that costs 10 to 15 cents per square foot more than standard drywall. Whether I’m using paperless or paper-faced drywall, I usually charge about 25 cents more per square foot to upgrade from a Level 4 to a Level 5 finish on large areas. For small jobs, I usually don’t charge a premium, since it only takes a few minutes to skim-coat a sheet of drywall.