When you're constructing a curved wall, sheeting it with a regular drywall panel poses a problem if the curve is greater than 3 inches per the average 4-foot width of a 5/8-inch drywall panel. To address this issue, flexible drywall panels take the place of a standard panel and, with a little coaxing, they may bend to fit a tighter curve.
Thinner gypsum panels, manufactured with a fire-resistant core and a thick paper binding, can be bent to fit a pre-framed wall with a bend of up to a 22-inch radius. This allows the drywall installer to use gypsum panels as opposed to the free-hand application of plaster, as was common until the 1980's. Locate flexible panels by contacting a private lumberyard. Most do-it-yourself chain centers do not sell flexible drywall.
Flexible Sheetrock gypsum panels are sold in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets but are only 1/4-inch thick. You may use them either wet or dry. Dry application produces a more uniform finish because the finished side of the Sheetrock bends with a uniform curve. However, when a curve with a radius of more than 32-inches is required, the flexible panels are sprayed on the backside with water to encourage a greater bend.
When used correctly, flexible drywall panels offer a smooth curve, accenting a circular staircase or another interior custom design element. These panels are not intended for outside use. Before the manufacture of flexible drywall panels, wire mesh, affixed to wooden framing studs was finished with hand-smoothed plaster to form the desired curve.
Before installing the flexible drywall panels, frame the intended curve with studs in the shape of the bend. To prevent uneven bowing of the panel, consider placing the studs at 8-inch intervals, instead of the standard 16-inch intervals. Install the flexible panels perpendicular to the curve. For instance, if you're sheeting a wall that curves around a spiral staircase, lay the panel on its side, instead of installing it upright.
Before you install the flexible panel, cut small lines on the backside of the panel. Use a utility knife and cut only through the back paper. Don't cut into the gypsum beneath. If you are coaxing the panel into a tight curve, spray the backside lightly with water and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes before attempting to bend it.
Curved edges on the sides of bull-nose wall corners do not include the use of flexible drywall panels. These edges are formed by placing plastic wrap-return drywall corners where two drywall panels meet to form an outside corner. You may find wrap-return corners at lumberyards and do-it-yourself centers.
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