The True Cost of Drywall for the Construction Industry

With many practical applications, drywall is commonly used in various renovations and remodeling projects within commercial settings. Contractors factor drywall cost into their projects’ budgets, sometimes even using drywall to temporarily contain areas within job sites so that businesses can continue to operate. Yet the true cost of using drywall for containment often overlooks the need to dispose of drywall debris once the job finishes.

Temporary Containment & the True Drywall Cost

Commercial renovations often require that construction takes place in stages, allowing employees to continue working within the remaining office or business space, of particular importance with healthcare facilities. To limit noise and reduce disruption, contractors traditionally erected drywall. While drywall provides a sense of permanence and diminishes the clamor associated with construction, it’s not reusable. Eventually the walls must come down and contractors must dispose of drywall debris. 

Besides the cost of material, building temporary containment walls can add significant manhours to a project’s cost over multiple phases.

It's also worth considering the hidden costs to containment barriers using drywall: 

  • Overtime costs when scheduling outside of normal business hours
  • Tear-down, clean up and disposal costs
  • Environmental costs of a solution that is not "Green."

All in all, this wastefulness of labor and materials should be considered in drywall’s cost. 

Temporary Containment: Disposable Drywall vs. Reusable Modular Walls

When used as a containment solution, drywall costs more time, material and labor.  It's ALWAYS an expense if chosen for the project. There’s neither a return on investment (ROI) nor payback period (PBP) when drywall is used for temporary containment.  

Taking reusability into account, a modular wall system that is durable and constructed well is more like a one-time investment that pays back over multiple projects and multiple years. Establishing the PBP in combination with the useful life of the equipment can also help companies estimate revenue this equipment will contribute to the business after paying for itself.

Though other options for containment walls exist, one of the smartest options available to contractors are STARC System’s reusable modular walls. These offer actual ROI, whereas drywall provides no such return. STARC’s RealWall™ and LiteBarrier™ systems are the most advanced and innovative temporary containment solutions available on the market.

When considered over multiple phases or multiple projects, an investment now means margin improvements compared to traditional methods of containment. 

Crunching the Numbers

When comparing STARC’s reusable modular containment solutions to traditional drywall solutions, the ROI for modular wall systems offers an opportunity for contractors and facilities to improve profits considerably. In general, STARC modular wall systems pay for themselves after 3-5 uses. Unlike drywall, such temporary, reusable walls can be used hundreds of times, which allows contractors to undercut competition that doesn’t use such methods. 

Consider a six-phase office renovation project, with each phase requiring 100’ of wall. Here’s a comparison of drywall cost in comparison to two STARC modular wall systems: 

  • $100 per linear foot for drywall
  • $270 per linear foot for STARC LiteBarrier™
  • $375 per linear foot for STARC RealWall™

After the first phase of 100’, the cost of each material is: 

  • Drywall cost = $10,000
  • STARC LiteBarrier™ cost = $27,000
  • STARC RealWall™ cost = $37,500

Once construction reaches the third phase, with the reuse of modular walls taken into account, STARC LiteBarrier™ becomes more economical than drywall. Then, once construction’s the fourth phase finishes even STARC RealWall™ shows how it’s more economically viable. Consider then the final sixth phase: 

  • Drywall cost = $60,000
  • STARC LiteBarrier™ cost = $27,000
  • STARC RealWall™ cost = $37,500

This one capital investment redeploys with no further cost, and by the end of the project ROI is $22,500 on the RealWall™ and $33,000 on the LiteBarrier™. Material costs for containment will be all but eliminated for the next several years. Additionally, RealWall™ is backed by a 3-year warranty and the LiteBarrier™ is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Contractors looking for cost effective containment solutions with a guaranteed ROI should look no further than a capital investment in STARC’s RealWall™ or LiteBarrier™ system. STARC’s durable, reusable modular temporary containment solutions can be used on hundreds of jobs, year after year, with the prime advantage of paying for itself after just a few uses.

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