You can put plywood behind drywall when you want to add shelves anywhere on a wall, independent from stud location. While this increases construction costs it also improves thermal and noise insulation of a room or a house.
Plywood behind drywall gives you the ability to hang shelves or furniture such as kitchen furniture anywhere on the wall. Drywall mounted directly on the studs limits where you can hand furniture to the location of the studs.
Studs are located 16 inches apart. If you want to drill and anchor pictures, furniture, or shelves you need to locate these studs for installation. Drywall isn’t sufficiently supportive to hold up pieces of furniture. Adding plywood between wooden studs and drywall gives structural support as well as the ability to hang furniture anywhere on the walls.
Why even put plywood behind drywall?
There are almost endless uses for plywood behind drywall. Hanging furniture is among them, but there are other uses for this type of wall construction as well.
- Hang furniture anywhere on the wall
You can easily hang furniture on plywood. While not solid wood, both plywood and OSB offer structural support for furniture installation. You can screw in furniture through drywall and then through plywood for it to stay up even when fully loaded with dishes or other objects.
- Use shelves for storage
Since plywood covers the entire area of a wall or a room you can add shelves whenever you want. This isn’t possible with drywall which you can simply punch through easily. This is why shelves are often mounted only where studs are. Plywood offers the same benefits as solid brick walls in terms of the freedom to choose your favorite location to anchor shelving.
- Add towel hangers in the bathroom
Smaller objects might also need a bit more structural support than drywall can offer. To avoid accidentally breaking drywall you need to consider added structural support. One example is with towel hangers in the bathroom. Drywall is not sufficiently strong to hold multiple towels. You can add plywood behind it to add some structural support.
Is it a good idea to put plywood behind drywall?
It might take a bit of an effort to install but plywood can come with a series of benefits that could change the way you construct homes and garages. There are drawbacks to consider as well.
The pros of putting plywood behind drywall
A few good benefits to using plywood behind drywall have already been mentioned. Here’s how you can summarize them.
- Extra freedom for furniture installation
Plywood (1/2 or 1/4) can add minimum structural support, ideal for hanging furniture. You can find all types of plywood today such as the excellent ¾ pine plywood. However, you will install it with the scope of hanging something on the wall as there’s not much reasoning behind installing plywood if you don’t want to hang picture frames, painting, and furniture.
- Better noise insulation
A good reason to add plywood behind drywall is to properly noise insulate your home. This is a task specifically interesting if you live next to a highway or next to a busy road. Noise pollution is highly detrimental to your health. You can use insulation and plywood under your drywall to try and limit the amount of exterior noise in your home.
The cons of putting plywood behind drywall
Plywood is more expensive than drywall. In some cases, it might even be cheaper to install 2 layers of drywall for better sound insulation. This method is not applicable for hanging furniture, however.
- Higher construction cost
One of the main reasons to ditch the idea of putting plywood behind drywall is its high cost. You have a limited budget with home renovation which often means you cannot simply go out and buy sheets and sheets of plywood or OSB.
However, there are ways around this, often overlooked by those opposing the idea of plywood behind drywall. For example, you can only add plywood to a single wall where you plan to hang shelves and furniture. You don’t need plywood for the entire room or for the entire house, just the areas which need your furniture hanging off the wall.
Is there a structural role for plywood behind sheetrock?
Yes, plywood has higher tensile strength compared to sheetrock. You can add weight to plywood but you can’t add weight to drywall.
The amount of weight you add to plywood depends on its thickness, the number of wood layers, as well as on the screws or frame it’s fixed in. A properly fixed piece of ¾” plywood can hold up to 800lbs where this weight isn’t evenly distributed and more than 1.000lbs when the weight is evenly distributed.
How to put plywood behind drywall?
You first need to install plywood on the studs. The easiest way to do this is to screw the plywood to the studs in as many places as possible with a level for even results.
A more precise way of adding plywood first is by using a metal frame that holds all edges of the plywood in place.
Drywall is then screwed to the plywood or the studs through the plywood.
How much does it cost to put plywood behind drywall?
A piece of good plywood starts at around $30 at the moment (prices vary month on month). A single wall of plywood can cost between $200 and $300. You need to add the cost of drywall in as well.
However, the final cost might be worth it gave you have total freedom with hanging furniture on plywood.
An ideal way to ensure that this investment of hundreds of dollars is not in vain is to have it installed by a contractor.
Another way to save money when installing plywood behind drywall is to choose thin drywall if you only need to hang a few shelves. Otherwise, you’d need to install thicker plywood for that extra strong support.