Plasterboard vs plywood: Which is the best radiation protection material?

Lead-Lined Drywall vs Plywood: Should I use Plywood or Plasterboard for my Radiation Protection Project?

When it comes to lead lining a room, most of our new customers are uncertain about what exactly needs to be done to ensure that a room is protected from radiation leakage. This article will describe, in simple terms, what we do to ensure radiation is concealed within a room and how to do it in the most cost-effective way possible depending on your project.

Plasterboard Vs Plywood - raybloc xray protection

Lead Lined Plywood

Plywood is a material made from multiple thin layers of glued-together wood. Each layer of wood is cross-laminated and rotated 90 degrees from the other before it’s fastened with a waterproof resin adhesive. Plywood is commonly applied to structural projects due to its strong internal integrity compared to drywall, although this comes with a financial cost.

Given that plywood can take a strong load, we utilise plywood for our heavier lead projects that use code 6, 2.65mm Pb and upwards of lead. Similarly, plywood is used for ceilings, regardless of the thickness of lead bonded to it, to ensure your ceiling will be able to stand the test of time.
Types of Lead Lined Plywood

As a standard, Raybloc uses 12.5mm plywood boards to construct plywood walls, ceilings, and floors with a sheet size of 2400mm x 600mm. Of course, we are also able to supply plywood boards at thicknesses other than 12.5mm, ranging up to 18mm boards (excluding the lead sheet). Raybloc will mount any lead sheets onto plywood between code 3 and code 8 to achieve your desired lead equivalence. In cases where greater than code 8 is required, these boards can be doubled up, achieving lead equivalences of up to 7mm Pb when stacked.

When should I use Plywood?

With a global market size expected to reach $54.79 billion in 2022, plywood is a proven and popular material for structural construction purposes. But is it the right radiation protection material for you? Let’s explore the plywood pros and cons to see if it suits your X-ray room design.

The advantages of plywood in radiation protection

  • Improved stability – Plywood provides the inherent strength of the original wood material with additional properties bound within a cross-laminated structure.
  • Excellent resistance – Plywood is highly trusted to accommodate short-term overloads up to twice its design load with further load distribution properties improving the overall tensile strength.
  • Surface dimensional integrity – Plywood sheets stay stable within altering temperatures and moisture.
  • Panel shear – Due to the cross-laminated structure, plywood boasts a panel shear almost twice the strength of solid timber.
  • High strength-to-weight ratio – Plywood proves a cost-effective solution with a high strength-to-weight ratio, ideal for flooring, shearwalls, formwork and webbed beams.
  • Chemical resistance – Plywood is a non-corrosive material, ideal in a medical environment where certain chemicals are used and preserved

The disadvantages of plywood in radiation protection

  • Cost – Plywood is generally more expensive than drywall boards due to the higher material quality.
  • Craftsmanship – Plywood is considered harder to work with than installing drywall, so it may require specialist joiners to design and cut the wood correctly.
  • Fire Resistance – Being made of timber, plywood boards aren’t exactly fire-friendly.

Plasterboard Vs Plywood - raybloc xray protection

What is Drywall (Plasterboard)?

Drywall, otherwise known as plasterboard or sheetrock, is a board made of plaster, laminated between two sheets of paper. A common application for drywall is to line houses’ interior walls and ceilings mounted onto stud work. Typically pressed between a facer and a backer, drywall is made from calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum).

Each type of drywall has an intended purpose that can suit specific situations and design requirements.

Types of Lead Lined Plasterboard

As a versatile material, sheets of drywall come in multiple variants, including:

  • Standard drywall
  • Insulated drywall
  • Damp-proof drywall
  • Moisture-resistant drywall
  • Fire-resistant drywall
  • Impact drywall
  • Acoustic or soundproof drywall

Much like our lead plywood panels, Raybloc’s lead plasterboards come at 2400mm x 600mm as a standard size and are available in a range of thicknesses starting at 12.5mm. The main difference with using drywall panels is their poor structural integrity when compared to plywood. For this reason, we can only mount a maximum of code 5 lead to drywall boards to ensure that they can take the additional weight of the heavy lead metal.

When Should I use Drywall?

Now that we understand how plywood can serve your radiology room requirements, how will drywall do in comparison, and when should you use it?

The advantages of drywall in radiation protection

  • Low cost – One thing drywall has over sheets of plywood is a lower cost. Having a low price is what ultimately makes it a popular choice in interior construction.
  • Versatility – Drywall is a versatile option as it can serve multiple structural benefits. With a large variety of types of drywall panels as mentioned previously, there is a type of drywall for every application.
  • Fire resistant – By having a non-combustible core chemically mixed with water, drywall will naturally release steam when exposed to high heat.
  • Easy installation – Drywall is much easier to install due to its lightweight and ease.

The disadvantages of drywall in radiation protection

  • Less durable – Drywall is much less durable than plywood but can be manufactured to resist damage.
  • Water exposure – As a porous, chemical material, drywall doesn’t react well when exposed to water and can weaken or crack. However, this should not be a crucial issue within a radiology department.
  • Inflexible – Drywall is known for being slightly more brittle and is more susceptible to damage compared to plywood.

Difference between drywall vs plywood: Which is the Best for Your Radiology Requirements

Both plywood and drywall have their advantages, with plywood’s reliability and strength against gypsum boards’ low costs and convenience. But which material best suits your X-ray room depends on your budget and design specifications. For example, if you’re looking to keep costs low, then drywall is generally a cheaper material to produce, design, manufacture and install.

However, if you require extra durability, plywood is the superior selection. While both materials can be lead-lined for radiation protection, plywood is generally more reliable because it’s less susceptible to damage from physical impact or moisture.

On the other hand, drywall is easier and more convenient to construct, whereas plywood remains ideal for installation when manufactured by specialist designers and suppliers. So, both options can serve your radiation protection needs. It all depends on the type of radiology room you wish to build and the amount of money you’re willing to spend.

Choose an expert panel provider for your radiation protection

At Raybloc X-Ray Protection, we provide a range of pressure lead-bonded building materials with exceptional lead lining, starting at a thickness of 12.5mm as a standard. Just like normal plasterboards or plywood panels, all our X-ray protective panels can be manufactured, cut, and delivered to suit your specific dimensions. Our standard size is 2400 x 600, half the width of a conventional board due to the heavy weight of the lead, and is therefore the best size for value.

Lead thicknesses can vary between 1mm to 3.5mm, and we can achieve higher lead equivalences by bonding multiple layers, or exceeding this, lead chevrons to come into play – but that’s for another blog! Whether it’s plywood or drywall, all our radiation boarding solutions come with lead-backed battens to fix on solid walls or lead strips to timber battens. All protective panels can be supplied and installed by our specialist installation team.


What is the difference between drywall and plasterboard

The answer is: there isn’t. These two names are different terms used for gypsum boards. You may also see this called dry lining, wallboard, slap board, buster board, sheetrock, and custard board!

Is plywood better than drywall?

It depends on your scenario. Gypsum boards are lighter and easier to install than hardwood plywood boards but aren’t always structurally strong enough to hold your lead if your boards require a high thickness of lead or are being used for ceilings. Where weight is concerned, plywood may be more expensive but ensures that your boards will get the job done properly and safely.

Is plywood used to stop radiation?

The plywood itself will not attenuate radiation sufficiently enough to stop it in its tracks as it is not dense enough. Plywood paneling proves useful in radiation protection as a mounting surface for lead sheets where drywall boards are not strong enough to support the weight of the lead. Plywood offers rigid panelling for walls, ceilings, and floors when drywall is not appropriate.

Is drywall used to stop radiation?

Drywall is a lightweight material and will therefore have little to no attenuating ability for stopping radiation. It is however very useful for acting as a mounting surface for sheets of lead metal for wall panelling, providing the lead is not too heavy to cause the board to snap under its own weight. For this reason, Raybloc will use code 3 to code 5 lead on drywall boards, but no greater.

Get in touch today for more information about our radiation protection material solutions.

To find out more about our X-ray protection products, download our eBook today.

Lead Lined Wall Panelling

Do not skip corners when it comes to radiation protection. It is what shields you, your staff, and your patients from harmful radiation. There is no compromise when it comes to people’s lives. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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