Should I Replace the Drywall?

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Should I Replace the Drywall?

When performing a bathroom, kitchen, or full home remodel, with few exceptions, DAD’s Construction recommends replacing all of the existing drywall.  You might be asking “Should I replace the drywall?”.  The answer is “Yes”.  Here is why:

  1. Lead Exposure
  2. Asbestos Exposure
  3. Mold Exposure
  4. Visible Seams
  5. Cost and Appearance

When considering if you should replace the drywall, these 5 items deserve your attention.  Lets review each of these.

Drywall Lead Exposure

Should I Replace the Drywall? - Lead ExposureThe Toxic Substances Control Act (April 22, 2008) mandates that any firm working in homes built prior to 1978 and child occupied facilities must be EPA certified and use lead safe work practices during renovations.  Violation of these rules can result in fines of $37,500 per day, per violation.

Effective April 22, 2010, for dwellings constructed prior to 1979 (1978 and older), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires renovators to inform the owner-occupant that the dwelling may contain unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings.  When (a) interior work disturbs 6 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings in any room (b) exterior work disturbs 20 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings, unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings may be present.  This also applies to all window and door replacement.  Federal standards define unhealthful lead-based paint or surface coatings as:

“Any paint or surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or more than 0.5 percent by weight”

Children are at special risk.

Children under six are most at risk from small amounts of lead.  Among adults, pregnant women are especially at risk from exposure to lead.  In children, lead can cause nervous system and kidney damage.  It can also cause decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder, and learning disabilities.  Speech, language, and behavior problems are also common.  In pregnant women, lead is passed from the mother to the fetus.  This can cause miscarriages, premature births, brain damage, and low birth weight.

Special EPA mandated procedures were developed by the Federal Government to safely and properly remove painted or surface coatings containing lead. Use contractors certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.  See DAD’s Construction EPA Lead Certification.

At this point, the question is no longer “Should I replace the drywall?”.  It is now “How soon can I get the drywall replaced?”.

Asbestos Exposure in Drywall

Another reason for answering “yes” to “should I replace the drywall” is asbestos.  Homes and buildings built prior to 1980 utilized materials containing asbestos, a hazardous health material.  Homes and buildings built prior to 1980 will likely have asbestos in all forms and types of:

  • Should I Replace the Drywall?Paint, wallpaper and its adhesives
  • Drywall & drywall taping and its compounds
  • Lath and plaster
  • Acoustical (popcorn) ceilings
  • Tile, ceramics & grout
  • Carpet, vinyl flooring, synthetic floor coverings, floor covering adhesives
  • Plumbing, sinks, countertops
  • Insulation
  • Electrical wiring and lighting
  • Windows
  • Air conditioning and heating systems & duct work
  • Roofing
  • Cement, stucco & brick
  • Welding & millboard.

For more information on Asbestos, see the National Cancer Institute Asbestos Fact Sheet.

Should I replace the drywall?  Mold Exposure & Sickness is a big reason to do so.

Should I Replace the Drywall? - Bathtub MoldShould I Replace the Drywall? - Mold in showerHere is another critical reason for answering “yes” to “should I replace the drywall?”.  Mold.  Mold is an extremely toxic substance caused by trapped moisture in walls and floors.  As mold spreads, it gives off spores, which can enter the body and make you sick.  Mold sickness is extremely serious and should be treated by a doctor.  The early symptoms often look like other sicknesses, so it is important to know what to look for to treat mold sickness correctly. If you have an immune system deficiency, mold sickness will come on faster and harder than it would otherwise.

Mold Under Vinyl FloorShort-term and beginning stages of mold sickness can look like a basic cold or allergy attack.  This is because mold acts as an irritant in small doses.  If you repeatedly receive any of these symptoms after entering a building, that building may have a mold problem.  Early symptoms include sneezing, itchy skin, headache, watery and itching eyes and skin irritation.

If you are in an area that has been contaminated by mold for a long period of time, the following conditions may develop.  If you begin to get these symptoms, see your doctor immediately, as they may indicate prolonged exposure to mold.  Symptoms of the later stages of mold sickness include constant headaches, weight and hair loss, diarrhea, vomiting, constant fatigue, coughing up blood, chronic bronchitis and sinus infections, sexual dysfunction, short-term memory loss, skin rashes and sores.

Visible Seams in the Drywall

Should I Replace the Drywall? - Drywall SeamsAbsent any water damage, when the seams are visible or the tape is lifting, separating, or cracking, this is usually due to a poor taping job (very common in all tract homes).  It can also be due to termites, who love to eat the paper layers of the drywall – but not the plaster.  Nevertheless, the paper holds the drywall together, and is also what your wall paint is applied to.

The labor involved in removing the tape, cleaning the seams, sanding the old drywall, sealing Drywall blistering and bubblingthe old drywall, re-taping, then retexturing the entire wall or ceiling (so it matches uniformly) will usually equal or exceed simply removing the old drywall and installing new drywall.  In addition, the original texture was most likely never sealed or primed (for speed and cost savings, tract housing, production work, and low budget jobs rarely perform these important additional steps).  Therefore, applying texture directly over old texture, even when painted, typically results in the old texture blistering (lifting or bubbling) when new paint is applied.

Cost and Appearance is another consideration when asking “should I replace the drywall?”

Bathroom Remodel DAD's ConstructionIn my more than 45 years of remodeling and renovating experience, I’ve never experienced a situation where it’s cheaper, safer, or better to cut holes all over the bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc., patch them, and have it look better.  A polished, safe, and professional job requires removal of the drywall and replacing with new drywall after all the wall cavity work is completed.

When a hole is cut into existing drywall that has multiple coats of paint, the surface has a rough or knockdown finish, or has years of use, the repair or patch is clearly visible.  Why on earth, for example, would you spend good money on a beautiful bathroom remodel only to have the walls look terrible?  Moreover, depending on the age of the home, you’re leaving behind lead, asbestos, and mold!

I hope this helps answer the question “Should I replace the drywall?”

How Can I Receive More Information?

If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at dan@dadsconstruction.com for a free in home consultation.  DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California.  This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo.

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Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD’s Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor, https://www.dadsconstruction.com.  © DAD’s Home Services & Construction, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.