The ceiling in a family room I'm getting ready to work on is rather beat up with cutouts and nail holes but not to the point of needing to replace it. The joists are on 16" centers.

I want to go over it with new drywall and thought I would just put quarter-inch up. However, I read two places where someone said they were using 3/8-inch drywall to go over it.

So should I use 3/8-inch or is 1/4-inch OK?

  • 1
    We just had a very experienced use go through this - diy.stackexchange.com/questions/189618/… - and not only an answer but a thorough follow up. Drywalling over drywall - and I have done it 10+ times - should never been done unless last case scenario. A thick skim coat is easier, less costly, way less time, and way less mess. I would ask Michael any pointers in his question - as he just did it the first time.
    – DMoore
    Jun 22, 2020 at 17:04
  • @DMoore Well, now, thanks for that...I guess. You added to my indecision struggle. :) I thought about doing a skim coat but decided not to because I thought it would just be a big mess and an imperfect ceiling. I think I'm going to hunt around to see if I can talk myself into or out of skim coating it instead.
    – Rob
    Jun 22, 2020 at 18:51
  • read through everything on that. I mentioned an easy technique to get an almost perfect ceiling even if you are not the drywaller - finish it, very quick coat of primer then fill in the holes/ridges, sand again and boom good. If you are that bad with your mud/sanding... drywalling the whole thing will not help hide that. A ceiling looks better random ridges than drywall mud humps on the seams.
    – DMoore
    Jun 22, 2020 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


Ceilings require 5/8" or 1/2" no-sag for 24" joist span. If you're able to screw it at 16" intervals or use adhesive between joists you could use standard 1/2". I wouldn't use 3/8" unless you have backing at 12" intervals or run adhesive between joists. 1/4" just isn't appropriate for a ceiling.

Update: For 16" joist span I'd use 1/2" or run a bead of construction adhesive between joists and use 3/8". I wouldn't trust 3/8" to not sag over 16", and 1/4" almost certainly will. Note that it can be difficult to prevent screw punch-through with 3/8" sheets. Set your screw gun's depth accurately.

Personally I'd be spending a few bucks more for lightweight 1/2" and not worry about glue or sagging. This will reduce the chance of over-stressing your ceiling framing, also.

  • To be clear, that includes going over the drywall already there? I thought we could go thinner in that case.
    – Rob
    Jun 22, 2020 at 15:43
  • 2
    Gravity doesn't care what's above an object. Only what's below. In this case, that's the heads of the screws.
    – isherwood
    Jun 22, 2020 at 15:44
  • It's 16-inch centers
    – Rob
    Jun 22, 2020 at 15:46

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