Q: Is it okay to use 3/8-inch drywall for a basement ceiling? I know ½-inch drywall is standard, but I don't want to lose any more headroom than I have to.

— Ed, Milford, PA

A: Tom Silva replies: According to the International Residential Code, you can use 3/8-inch-thick sheets if the joists are 16 inches on center or less. But there are other concerns, too. You have to run the drywall sheets with their long edge perpendicular to the framing — 3/8-inch drywall really isn't strong enough to run parallel to the framing. And you can't apply a water-based textured finish; the moisture in the finish would weaken the drywall and might cause it to sag or fall.

If it were me, I'd just use the ½-inch drywall. You'll never notice 1/8 inch of lost headroom.
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