Can you reuse used Gib to avoid supply shortage?

Gib plasterboard, a trademark of its New Zealand manufacturer, has been in short supply for months.

Sungmi Kim / Stuff

Gib plasterboard, a trademark of its New Zealand manufacturer, has been in short supply for months.

With the critical scarcity of Gib plasterboard, is it time to get smarter and – instead of desperately trying to stock up on new ones – reuse used ones instead?

Alas, the short answer is no.

“Generally, almost universally, no,” says Jeremy Gray of the website builderscrack.co.nz, which helps thousands of people every year list jobs and get quotes from tradespeople.

About a third of the work staged at the site requires plasterboard, he says, so he knows full well that it will almost never come cleanly off the wall.

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“Because it’s glued to the framing, the board on the outside sticks to the glue and the plaster breaks,” Gray says. “It just breaks.”

If you manage to take off the board from the wall cleanly – for example if the sheet has only been nailed – then nothing prevents you from reusing it for a little DIY.

Gib plasterboard, a trademark of its New Zealand manufacturer, has been in short supply for months. It is desperately sought after by builders, with some of them going bankrupt while waiting for product supplies. It is even reported to have been stored away and stolen.

Provided

Fletcher Building has apologized after a Canterbury builder captured video evidence of Gib being stored at a Fletcher Living building site in Lincoln.

The shortage led some builders and do-it-yourselfers to buy up leftover sheetrock for six times the retail price on Trade Me. In one auction, bids reached $5,100 for 26 sheets of Gib; the same product normally goes on sale at Bunnings for $33.82 per sheet ($879.32 total).

Gray says that to be usable, drywall needs to be stored flat and dry, so be mindful of that if you’re buying someone’s leftovers.

“If stored in a damp or damp environment, or leaning against a wall, it will bend and bend.”

This GIB plasterboard pallet sold for over $1300 in January 2022 amid shortage of building materials (regular price without trade discount $879).  Another pallet sold at a Trade Me auction for over $5,000.

trade me

This GIB plasterboard pallet sold for over $1300 in January 2022 amid shortage of building materials (regular price without trade discount $879). Another pallet sold at a Trade Me auction for over $5,000.

Smaller than standard sheets (2.4m by 1.2m) are also frequently offered on Trade Me, where they are listed as half sheets, leftover pieces and offcuts.

Using Gib scraps to patch areas is “absolutely good,” says Gray, and also means less product ends up wasted.

Although it’s likely to be time consuming, you could theoretically use a pile of scrap to cover a larger area in older homes – a plasterer could just skim the wall to account for rough joints. “You can by all means use all sorts of elements, as long as it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the bracing,” says Gray.

But beware, this approach is only suitable for older homes – not those built within the last 20 years. In more modern homes, the Gib is specified to contribute to the strength and rigidity of the walls.

Jeremy Gray of Builderscrack.co.nz says Gib's situation, with few suppliers making an almost universally needed product, is bringing the building industry to a standstill.

Provided

Jeremy Gray of Builderscrack.co.nz says Gib’s situation, with few suppliers making an almost universally needed product, is bringing the building industry to a standstill.

In general, Gray says the biggest issue right now is getting access to Gib’s house lots for new construction, in which case it needs to be ordered well in advance.

Builders who only need small quantities – a few sheets – can still access it, in his experience. “Depending on the relationship the builder has with a given supplier, it all depends on who you know.”

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