Alternatives to Drywall for Garage Walls

Mike Parker

Drywall is a common building material for finishing interior garage walls.

Drywall comes in 4-by-8-foot sheets and other sizes.

The process of installing drywall usually involves nailing or screwing the drywall panels to wooden studs, taping and bedding the joints between the drywall panels with joint compound, then painting the walls for an aesthetically pleasing finish. Drywall is an inexpensive and versatile option for your garage walls, but it is hardly your only option.

Plywood Sheathing

Drywall can crack, dent or break if it is struck with a hard object. Since garages are typically not used with the same care as other interior living spaces, the walls in your garage may be subject to substantially more abuse than the walls in your living room. Plywood sheathing can provide much tougher walls for your garage that can withstand considerably more abuse than drywall. Plywood installs in much the same was a drywall, minus the taping and bedding. Plywood is also usually more expensive than drywall.

Slatwall and Pegboard

Garages can be used to store surplus household goods, tools, camping equipment, cookware and a plethora of other stuff in addition to your car. It's easy for a garage to get cluttered. Slatwall and pegboard panels can provide an attractive finish for your garage walls while helping you stay organized. Both slatwall and pegboard panels come in standard-sized sheets and are attached to the wall with screws or nails, much like drywall, but you can attach movable hangers and shelving to these panels to provide additional storage space.

Cement Board

Cement board is a type of wall construction material that is similar in appearance to drywall but possesses certain features that make it more suitable for the harsher conditions that your garage may be subjected to. Drywall can mold or deteriorate if it gets wet. Cement board is moisture- and mold-resistant. It doesn't decay, disintegrate or deteriorate when it gets wet. Cement board is also non-combustible, making it appropriate for use in certain fire-rated designs.

Lath and Plaster

Lath and plaster walls were the standard prior to the emergence of drywall. You can still install traditional lath and plaster walls in your garage. Lath is thin strips of wood, typically cedar, that are nailed to the wall studs. Wet plaster is spread over the lath and allowed to dry. Multiple coats of plaster may be required to achieve your desired appearance.