Drywall is an important interior component of residential and commercial buildings. Sometimes referred to as wallboard, sheet rock, gypsum, or plaster board, it consists of a fiber that is combined with a plaster, foaming agent, and various ingredients which allow the drywall to be resistant to mold, mildew, and other interior pollutants.
The first drywall manufacturing facility opened in the late 19th century in the United Kingdom, having been invented in 1894. The first drywall boards were created by layering plaster with piles of felt paper made of wool.
In the United States, drywall panels are offered in widths of 48, 54, and 96 inches, allowing for various interior applications to be completed with relative ease. In Europe, the width options are 60, 90, or 120 centimeters.
Important Drywall Industry Statistics
#1. Drywall installation, along with insulation installation, composes an industry that is valued at $46 billion in the United States. (IBIS World)
#2. For the 5-year period ending in 2018, the annual growth forecast for the industry is to achieve a 4.7% growth rate. More than 96,000 businesses are currently operating in the United States within this industry. (IBIS World)
#3. More than 310,000 people have direct employment opportunities in the U.S. because of the drywall industry. (IBIS World)
#4. In 2017, about 25 billion square feet of drywall products were sold in the United States. That was the best year for total square footage since 2007, when 27.8 billion square feet of drywall products were sold. (Statista)
#5. In 2016, more than 37 million metric tons of gypsum was consumed in the United States to manufacture the necessary drywall products that were used for building materials. (Statista)
#6. About 20,000 businesses are specifically focused on being installation contractors within the drywall industry. Combined, they create annual revenues of about $25 billion. (Business Wire)
#7. The value of manufacturing gypsum for the drywall industry is an estimated $6 billion. There are about 200 gypsum manufacturers located in the United States, employing about 8,500 people. (IBIS World)
#8. The rate of gypsum manufacturing is expected to grow at nearly twice the rate (7.4%) of the overall drywall industry in the current 5-year period. (IBIS World)
#9. In the average home built in the United States, there are more than 7 metric tons of gypsum used to create the drywall products that form the overall structure. Gypsum is also used to create concrete that is used for transportation structures, and it can be used as a soil conditioner as well. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#10. In 2017, crude gypsum mining in the United States produced an estimated 17.5 million tons of product, with a total value of around $144 million. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#11. The top 6 states in the U.S. responsible for gypsum mining, which are Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Nevada, and Oklahoma, provided 66% of the total mining output for the domestic industry each year. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#12. There are about 400 producers located in the United States which produce synthetic gypsum for the drywall industry as well. Domestic consumption of about 38.3 million tons of crude and synthetic gypsum in the U.S. is about 38.3 million tons, most of which goes to the drywall industry. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#13. About 7.2 million tons of gypsum is used in the United States each year for agricultural and concrete applications. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#14. The total production capacity for the U.S. drywall industry is just over 33 billion square feet. Total sales each year reflect about two-thirds of the total installed capacity of the drywall industry. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#15. About 12% of the drywall industry is comprised of imported products each year. 42% of gypsum imports that occur within the industry originate from Mexico. Canada provides about 30% of the imports, while Spain provides 27% of the import share. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#16. There are about 700,000 tons of gypsum scrap that are generated by the drywall industry each year. Recycled drywall products are primarily used for agricultural purposes or for feedstock that can create new drywall products. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#17. China is the leading producers of crude gypsum through mining in the world today. They currently produce 130 million metric tons of crude gypsum each year, with much of it headed to the drywall industry. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#18. The U.S. has the highest known global reserves of gypsum, rated at 700 million metric tons. Canada and Brazil have a proven reserve of more than 400 million metric tons. China’s reserves are likely higher, but there are no reports issued on available reserves for them. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#19. In 2017, synthetic gypsum accounted for about 50% of the total global supply of gypsum products that were sold for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#20. A total of 81 countries produced gypsum on some level for the drywall industry in 2017. The United Kingdom had the smallest ranked mining production, with 1.2 million metric tons produced. Several European and South American nations also produced fewer than 2 million metric tons of gypsum domestically for the global drywall industry. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#21. In 2015, the United States was ranked as the world’s third-largest producer of crude gypsum. At the time, it was responsible for about 6% of the total global market. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#22. The value of calcined gypsum in the United States is about 3 times higher than the value of crude gypsum. In 2015, domestic output levels were 15 million tons, valued at $462 million. (U.S. Geological Survey)
#23. Consumption of calcined gypsum has increased by an average of 7% annually since 2013. (U.S. Geological Survey)
Drywall Industry Trends and Forecast
The drywall industry rises and falls with the global housing markets. In 2007, a record year was achieved for the industry because of the sheer number of homes being built or remodeled for possible sale. In the 2008-2009 fiscal years, the industry suffered a sharp downturn as the housing industry collapsed. Only now has the recovery completed itself, a full decade later.
Although the economy of the U.S. is growing, and global economies are stable, recent changes to U.S. regulations regarding banking and mortgage issuance has created an unsteadiness within the housing market. There is a hope that more home buyers may come into the market to boost industry sales.
There is also a fear that a repeat of the downturn seen in 2008 could make life difficult for the industry once again.
Drywall is a core component of most residential and commercial buildings today, which means there will always be a place for this industry. There may be market uncertainties forthcoming, but this is an industry that is a survivor.