I own a condo, built in 1961. I've started remodeling and in tearing out my kitchen I discovered the wall between me and my neighbors is only that: a wall. No fire protection just drywall, regular (old) insulation and drywall. Any simple suggestions besides tearing down all the drywall?

I'll be installing Roxul Safe'n'Sound™ in the interior walls.

  • 4
    How thick is the drywall? I believe 5/8" drywall is considered fire protection.. maybe someone can fill in the details...
    – Steven
    Feb 6, 2013 at 21:36
  • Get an inspector in. Feb 6, 2013 at 21:50

2 Answers 2


Type X drywall, which is typically 5/8" thick (as opposed to 1/2") and contains fiberglass within the gypsum is typically used for fire protection. I believe it increases the burn through time to around 1 hour, and it increases the impact resistance (there's often falling debris in a fire). For further protection, every electrical junction box should be enclosed around the back, top, and bottom with 2x4's and plywood to prevent fires from burning through the box, or a fire that starts in the box from spreading quickly to the other side. Additionally, every penetration in the wall should be sealed with fire rated caulking (it's typically orange in color, and they also have a similar expanding foam of the same color, so it's easy for the building inspector to verify you used the correct product).

The safe and sound insulation is a great addition. The only other thing you could do is to add a 1" air gap and a second wall on your side, which would help with both the spread of fire and sound, but the downside is that you'd lose almost 6" of space in your kitchen.

Realize that no structure will be fire proof, the goal is to slow the spread until the fire department can get there. And the last small fire I saw in a townhouse resulted in half a dozen engines, ladder trucks, etc, because they take the risk of a spreading fire very seriously.

  • 1
    And don't forget to check code! My county requires 2 hour rated fire walls between units. If the wallboard on the other side of the studs is not Type X drywall then you might need to hang 2 layers of drywall on your side if you need to 2 hour protection, too.
    – longneck
    Feb 7, 2013 at 16:02
  • 2
    Instead of adding an entire second wall, you can add a second set of studs to the existing wall in between the current ones, but have them protrude 1/2" or so. That way your side of the wall is connected to a different set of 2x4s than the other side of the wall, which improves the physical break needed to reduce sound transmission.
    – DA01
    Jan 23, 2014 at 4:17

The Fire separation wall between the adjoining condominium dwellings shall be one hour fire rated with fire exposure from both sides. This requires one layer of 5/8" thick fire rated, type X gypsum board on each side of the wall. If you are planning to remove existing regular gypsum board on your side, replace it with one layer of 5/8" thick, type X gypsum board, also do not forget to put sound insulation

(R13 minimum). If you do not want to remove the existing regular drywall, place an other layer of regular 1/2" drywall over it. Note that you are going to lose 1/2" space.

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