Are you looking for cheap drywall? Unfortunately, with most building materials, you get what you pay for! Ask all the drywall contractors and drywall supply houses in Florida, who tried to "save a buck" by purchasing Chinese drywall. Sometimes the cheap is more expensive.
This does not mean that you have to pay more for drywall than you should. There are plenty of products that are more reasonably priced than others. It all depends on what your project goals are.
Not all of the portland drywall companies are getting a cheap purchase price on drywall. The smaller companies pay a higher price because they do not buy enough of it. In this case, size does matter.
Often "seconds" are available, and they are definitely considered cheap drywall. What are seconds? Seconds are what the manufacturers call their mistakes. Sometimes the drywall panels are damaged, or have some type of defect. If you are purchasing through a supply house and the price is very low compared to their peers, you will want to ask if they are selling you seconds.
Where can you use the seconds? Often you can use them up in areas where you need pre-rock or on a 1st layer of a multiple-layer project. But, before you do, make sure that the product still carries a fire-rating. If the product is not fire-rated, you will be liable for future issues or liabilities. Make sure it comes with a full warranty.
Weigh out the pros and cons of using seconds. Sometimes you can only use a small portion of the drywall panel, and it is not cost effective the use the panels. if you have to throw out 1/2 of the sheet it may not be worth the lower price of the cheap drywall.
Local supply houses often do not have the best price on drywall. You will get the best price by contacting a local drywall supply company. Most areas have several. In the portland area, there are only three major suppliers. They have the best price.
What if you get a great price on the drywall but need to have it stocked on a second floor or a basement? Often drywall supply companies will give you a low price on the material, but a high price on the stocking fees. If they have to walk the sheets up or down a floor, they will charge you a dollar per sheet. Never pay more than a dollar per sheet! Make sure you negotiate the stocking fee up front and look at the total cost.
Waste is a major factor in purchasing cheap drywall. If you get a great price on 8ft material, but you would have less waste with 12 foot material, is the price really cheaper? With smaller drywall sizes, you will have more time handling each piece of drywall and more waste. Typically, the waste is about 10% more with smaller panels. Make sure you take this into account when planning your project.