The Origins of DrywallDrywall, also known as gypsum board or wallboard, was first invented in the early 20th century as a more convenient and affordable alternative to traditional plaster walls. It consists of a layer of gypsum sandwiched between two layers of paper, and is produced in large sheets that can be easily transported and installed.
The Advantages of PlasterAlthough drywall is now the standard for most new construction, there are still many homes – particularly older ones – that use plaster instead. Plaster is a mixture of gypsum, sand, and water that is applied in layers over a framework of wooden strips called lath. One of the major advantages of plaster over drywall is its durability. Plaster walls are much thicker and more solid than drywall, and can withstand the wear and tear of daily life without denting or cracking. In addition, plaster is a much superior insulator than drywall, providing better soundproofing and insulation for the home. Because plaster is typically applied by hand, it can also be molded and shaped into intricate patterns and designs, making it popular in older homes with more ornate architectural details.
Plaster vs. Drywall: Which is Better?Despite the advantages of plaster, many homeowners and builders today still prefer drywall for a number of reasons. Some of the key factors include:
- Drywall is much cheaper and easier to install than plaster, making it a more cost-effective option for many
- Drywall can be painted and finished more easily than plaster, giving it a smooth and seamless appearance
- Drywall is much lighter than plaster, making it easier to transport, install, and handle
- Drywall can be easily replaced or repaired if damaged, whereas repairing plaster walls can be a more difficult and time-consuming process
Differences in Installation Between MaterialsThe installation processes for plaster and drywall are vastly different. Plaster is typically installed by hand, with wet plaster being applied to the lath in multiple coats. This process can take several days or even weeks to complete, and requires a skilled professional to get the job done right. Drywall, on the other hand, is much easier and faster to install. It can usually be hung and screwed into place in a matter of hours, and requires less skill and expertise to get a satisfactory result.
Repairing Plaster vs. DrywallOne of the major downsides of plaster walls is that they can be difficult to repair if they become damaged. If a plaster wall is cracked or gouged, it typically needs to be patched using new layers of plaster, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Drywall, on the other hand, is much easier to repair. Small holes and cracks can be filled with joint compound and sanded down to create a smooth surface, while larger damage can be easily patched with a piece of new drywall.
Restoring and Maintaining Older Plaster WallsIf you have an older home with plaster walls, it’s important to take good care of them to ensure their longevity. Here are some tips for restoring and maintaining older plaster walls:
- Keep the walls clean and free of dust and debris
- Regularly inspect the walls for cracks, holes, or signs of damage
- Make any necessary repairs promptly to prevent further damage
- Consider hiring a professional plasterer to help restore damaged or deteriorating walls
- Apply a coat of sealant to the walls to help protect them from moisture and damage
Finding and Sourcing Alternative Wall CoveringsIf you’re looking for an alternative to plaster or drywall, there are a number of other wall covering materials available. Some popular options include:
- Beadboard – a type of paneling that features narrow, vertical planks
- Paneling – a type of wood or synthetic material that covers the walls and ceiling
- Tin – stamped metal tiles that are often used in kitchens and other areas with high humidity
- Fabric – fabric wall coverings can add texture and warmth to a room, and can be updated or changed easily