Which Side of Drywall Faces Out

If you’re installing your first piece of sheetrock (USG brand of drywall) and wondering, which side of drywall faces out? We can help.

If you look at the different sides of the drywall, you will notice different colors. Depending on brands, the color may vary.

You’ll also notice the sides feel a little different. One side is rough, and one side is smooth.

There is a reason for the different materials and how drywall is installed.

Here is why.

Differences of Front and Rear Sides of Drywall

Once you understand how drywall is made, it will give you a better idea of what side of sheetrock faces out.

Front Side

The front of drywall is usually gray, blue, green, or purple and will have a nice and smooth surface for finishing.

You will also notice that it is somewhat tapered on the long edges of the drywall. This allows drywall mud and tape on the seams and still provides a level surface with the rest of the panel.

Back Side

The first giveaway that you are looking at the back of the drywall is the paper on the front is folded over the edges and glued to the rear. The folding helps reinforce the gypsum core and protect it.

back side of sheetrock

The other dead giveaway is the brown color. Although some companies use gray, brown is more common.

If both sides are gray, or you’re not sure, you can always contact the manufacturer.

The back will also be generally rougher since it is not made to be finished. It might hamper its intended purpose if you were to finish it since manufacturers change the material on the backside of drywall to better suit where it will be installed.

Colors of Drywall & What They Mean

Let’s break down some of the more common drywall colors and what side faces out.

Gray Drywall – Finish Side is Gray

This is your standard gypsum drywall that most people are familiar with: no special coatings and usually wrapped in a paper facing. The brown side is the rear of the panel.

Green Drywall – Finish Side is Green

Green drywall is used in damp rooms like laundry rooms, attics, basements, and bathrooms. This drywall has a special coating with mold and moisture-resistant paper.

It can be installed and finished the same as regular drywall. And you can use it for tile substrate in dry locations instead of a cement board.

Purple Drywall – Finish Side is Purple

Like green, purple drywall is also used in humid environments to protect against mold and mildew. It can also be used as a tile backer with limited water exposure.

If the color has you thrown off and wondering, purple drywall, which side out? Usually, purple drywall will have a gray backside.

So while it may strike you as a bit odd seeing green or purple drywall. That is the correct side to be facing out.

Yellow Drywall – Finish Side is Gray

When you see the color yellow in drywall, it usually indicates paperless drywall. Instead of paper that can be used as a food source for mold, the manufacturers use fiberglass instead. The most common is DensArmor Plus by Georgia Pacific. The interior panels will have a gray face, and the exterior rated (not made to be finished) are yellow.

This is one of the highest grades of drywall protection from moisture without cement board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you install drywall backwards?

Yes, each manufacturer designs drywall to have a front and rear. One side is for finishing, and the other goes against the studs. The rear can have special coatings for different moisture level protection.

If you accidentally installed the drywall backward. We recommend you remove it and install it correctly. If it is not clear which side is which, you should confirm with the manufacturer.

Which side of mold resistant drywall faces out?

This depends on the type of mold resistant drywall you have. See the information above about drywall colors. But, in general green, or purple will face out on mold resistant drywall. If you have yellow, that will be in back and gray will face out.

I have an older house with brown facing drywall?

This is correct. Older drywall did come in a brown color and is nothing to be worried about. Just use and finish as standard drywall, but make sure you use a good primer before painting.

So there you have it. This should give you the answer to what side of drywall faces out. And why that matters.

Make sure you install the drywall correctly and if there is any confusion, contact the manufacturer.

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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.