When constructing a new house or renovating an old one, many people give thought to such features as granite worktops, spacious living quarters, and a big number of windows. But despite being so vital, the home's interior walls are often disregarded.
The majority of people don't give much thought to the walls in their houses unless there's a problem or they move into a small space like a studio. In contrast, internal walls ensure personal privacy. Furthermore, they can operate as acoustic barriers, insulators, and fire barriers.
Drywall is easily installed by simply screwing it into the wall studs.
The options for thicknesses available now are extensive.
Plaster and lath, a more labour-intensive but high-end wall treatment, was used in the vast majority of homes built before World War II.
This method involved workers nailing strips of wood called lath to the studs and then applying many coats of plaster on top.
Each material and method has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, which is why we're contrasting drywall with plaster. Lime, sand, animal hair, and water were the customary materials for the earliest plaster.
Interior plaster walls of Egyptian tombs, such as that of Queen Nefertari, often feature paintings.
Frescoes were commonly used by the ancient Romans to adorn their homes. Frescos are works of art painted directly onto wet plaster with a wide variety of colours.
Instead of using lime, you can use gypsum to make a plaster that dries much faster. This new kind of plaster was widely adopted since it sped up the building process. As construction techniques improved, drywall became more durable and easily accessible.
Drywall was widely used for interior walls beginning in the 1950s. The majority of today's homes have the product installed on their inside walls.
Comparison between Plaster and Drywall
If you ask around when looking for options for wall construction in your home, you will likely hear about drywall and plaster.
Typically sold in sheets measuring 4 feet by 8 feet, drywall consists of gypsum paste sandwiched between two sheets of paper.
It is typical of modern dwellings.
The home building industry began to recognise drywall's benefits during the war and the postwar housing boom, including its lower price, ease of installation, and longevity.
However, finding skilled plasterers in the modern era is challenging because the trade has become increasingly specialised.
If you need to fix any plaster, you can do it yourself, but if you want to put up a whole wall, you should really have some professional training and experience under your belt first.
Although plaster walls require more skill to construct, they provide several advantages over drywall. Because of this, it is experiencing a renaissance.
Prior to undertaking any interior renovation job, every homeowner should choose between plaster and drywall. Both materials can be found at a range of pricing points and come with their own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Before deciding, you should learn about the characteristics of each material and consider their benefits and drawbacks.
In Construction, Plaster vs. Drywall
Plaster walls are traditionally made by covering the framing studs with wood lath, which consists of thin strips of wood glued to the studs horizontally and precisely spaced apart.
A foundation coat of plaster is used to fill up holes, and then two or three additional coats are applied for a smooth finish.
Metal mesh, rather than a wooden lathe, has replaced wood as the standard backing material.
Yet the method of application is identical to that of stucco on exterior walls.
When purchasing drywall, however, you will receive crushed gypsum sheets that are individually wrapped in paper.
You can either nail it or attach it to the studs, but screws are preferable.
Joint compound, often known as mud, must be used to fill in the cracks and make the surface appear continuous.
More quickly and with less compound is the goal when compared to a plaster wall.
Drywall sheets have specified widths and lengths, thus wall studs must be appropriately placed during framing to guarantee that the ends of the boards overlap a stud (4 x 8 ft. is standard).
Plaster is supported not by the studs but by the lath, so the usual stud spacing of 16 inches on centre is not necessary.
If you have an older property with irregular stud spacing, plaster walls may be the way to go.
What Is Plaster?
Plaster refers to the wall paste used for both decoration and protection. Plaster is applied in layers to laths (thin strips of wood), with drying time in between each layer. Minerals and water are commonly used to make the paste.
The earliest known types of plaster made using a lime-based compound date back to around 7500 B.C.E., and they were discovered in Jordan.
The ancient Chinese and Indians used clay and gypsum, a mineral made of hydrated calcium sulphate, to create a smooth plaster covering for stone or mud-brick walls.
Plaster was widely used in mediaeval Europe, and gypsum plus water was a typical combination. However, the product fell out of favour in the 1930s and 1940s due to the rise in popularity of plasterboard, sometimes known as drywall.
A stronger air barrier is created by the several coatings and lathing used in plaster walls, as opposed to drywall. Additionally, this thickness serves to effectively isolate rooms from ambient noise.
If the lathing and framing are done correctly, plaster may produce a far more sturdy wall, reducing the likelihood of buckling or cracking.
Plaster, being non-rigid when applied to the wall, may also be an excellent choice for rounded or otherwise non-rectangular surfaces. Finally, the fireproof qualities of the walls come from the high water content in the gypsum used to make the plaster.
Plaster has a lot of benefits, but it isn't used as much in homes as it used to be. Let's look at a few of the possible explanations for why this happened. Plastering, first, is labour intensive and therefore expensive.
It takes a long time for plaster to dry after it has been applied. It's also possible for the plaster to crack because of structural movement or improper installation, notwithstanding how tough it is. Plaster or another type of cement can be used to fix some of these cracks, while others will require structural restoration.
Perhaps these factors have led to drywall becoming the material of choice for many home renovation projects.
Let's have a closer look at this wall treatment for an indoor space.
Despite being an acceptable alternative to the traditional three-coat genuine plaster process, veneer plaster is rarely used in modern construction.
It has the same aesthetic as plaster and has many of that material's positive properties, but it can be applied in a fraction of the time.
Veneer plaster is applied over a base of blue board or gypsum board that has superior moisture and adhesive properties. Once the blue board has been installed, one or two layers of plaster are applied, much like in traditional plastering.
Drywall: What Is It?
Drywall, which was developed as an alternative to plaster, found widespread use in the construction industry during the 20th century. Drywall is composed of gypsum plaster sandwiched between 2 layers of sturdy paper, and it may be trimmed to fit around fixtures like doors, windows, and electrical outlets. This design is also common in colder regions due to the large amount of capacity for insulation behind each panel.
Expert technicians fasten the panels to the structure using drywall screws or nails. After the panels have been mounted, the show fastener heads and seams are covered with tape and a malleable drywall compound. You can use paint or another finishing agent to give the final product a more polished appearance.
In comparison to plaster, drywall's benefits are crystal clear. First, the cost of installation is reduced because the process requires fewer resources (time, manpower, etc.). Because the boards are wet, drywall is fireproof as well.
Drywall is not invincible, but it is an excellent option for interior walls. Drywall can be damaged by a number of other factors, including building settlement and homeowner negligence. Nail and screw pops occur when the head of the fastener protrudes or is visible through the drywall.
Second, gypsum drywall can be easily damaged by water if it's subjected to large amounts of moisture over a lengthy period of time. There are drywall boards available that have been treated with certain chemicals to make them more water resistant.
Drywall boards made of gypsum can be damaged easily by moisture and may also harbour mould. In order to lessen the likelihood of mould growth, gypsum drywall boards are going paperless in modern building practices.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Drywall and Plaster
- The installation of plaster requires more labour than that of drywall. Drywall's popularity grew during World War II in part because of the labour shortage that ensued from the conflict. Before committing to a high-maintenance material, it's important to determine if skilled workers are readily available in the area. These days, a plasterer is more akin to a skilled tradesperson than a drywall installer. Fixes could be as simple as sprucing things up to a whole new level of complexity.
- Plaster improves the insulation of a room. Plaster, due to its density, is often a better sound barrier than drywall. Sound Transmission Class (STC) is a metric used to express this; the higher the number, the better the soundproofing properties of the material in question. According to testing performed by National Gypsum, the R-value of 1/2-inch drywall installed between 24-inch wood studs is 34. US Gypsum, on the other hand, claims that a lath and plaster wall that is nearly 1 inch thick has an STC rating of 52.
- One can see that plaster was used since it looks more sophisticated. It can be finished with a smooth gloss or a rough stucco texture. Even though drywall has replaced plaster as the norm in most homes today, plaster is still used for a variety of cosmetic upgrades. Because it is challenging or impossible to bend drywall in the correct way, plaster may be a better option than the more typical material, drywall, for curved walls.
- There is an extended lifespan for plaster. Plaster has more endurance thanks to its thickness, but drywall is more fragile. It makes sense that people who are thinking about the long run would choose the more conventional building material.
- Plaster has greater sophistication and adaptability. Plaster, in contrast to drywall, can be finished in a variety of ways, including smooth, glossy, and textured. It's also the go-to for drywalling rooms that are particularly difficult to work with, such those with curving walls.
- Plaster is more prone to cracking as a home settles than drywall is because plaster is not as resilient.
- When making changes or repairs to the plumbing or electrical system, cutting into plaster walls is a more difficult task.
- Occasionally, WiFi signals might be disrupted by plaster walls since they are thicker than typical wall materials.
- Compared to other options, drywall requires less time and money to install. Drywall repairs are easy to perform, as was previously indicated. In contrast, wet plastering is a multi-day process that requires a professional to perform so that each layer can dry completely before the next is applied. The total cost of plastering is higher, even though the materials needed for painting are often comparable in price.
- The insulating properties of drywall are superior. Although it's denser than drywall, plaster doesn't have the same insulating qualities as its modern replacement. Comparatively, retrofitting insulation into old plaster walls is difficult and may not give the same levels of protection, while drywall installation allows for significantly greater flexibility in tolerating additional layers.
- Things are much simpler to hang on drywall. Posters are nearly impossible to hang with thumbtacks on plastered walls because plaster is more resilient than drywall. In addition, doing so can cause the plaster to chip or crack. For this reason, drywall is a more flexible material for interiors.
- The technique for setting up is more difficult. To install them on the studs of a wall, you must first determine its dimensions, then cut the necessary lengths of material.
- makes a mess during set up
- Drywall is heavy, so you'll need a friend to help you lift and place it.
- Drywall is less malleable than plaster, thus it may be difficult to bend it in the desired direction.
- Not as sturdy as plaster
- If the sheets are not placed correctly, the connections between them will be visible.
- Drywall, which is not water- and moisture-resistant, cannot be used in bathrooms.
Differences Between Drywall and Plaster Walls
Plaster and drywall both make walls, and both are used for similar purposes, yet they are fundamentally different.
Plasterboard is too flimsy to serve as efficient insulation, so the area beneath it should be filled with insulation instead. Spray foam and fibreglass batts are the most popular kinds of insulation because they can be installed at the same time as drywall with no difficulty.
One can also insulate a house using loose-fit cellulose without having to take down the drywall.
Although plaster is the most effective insulator, it might be difficult to apply new insulation to walls that have already been plastered. Homes built before centralised HVAC systems became commonplace may be at risk.
It will be necessary to have a professional replace the plaster on the walls so that insulation can be installed. If you try to fix it yourself, water and mould could get into the walls, which would be considerably more expensive to remedy in the long run.
e insulation challenging.
Relative Safety From Flames
Though an additional layer of plaster in a wooden wall would slow the spread of fire, no such wall currently exists. Plaster contains the mineral gypsum, which has a high level of water but is not combustible. Since the use of hardwood laths considerably increases the risk of a rapid spread of fire, their replacement with plasterboard backing or metal laths has been frequent in recent years.
Drywall, a fireproof coating for a wooden structure, also makes use of gypsum. Some manufacturers throw in noncombustible glass fibres to their drywall compositions to make them more fireproof because drywall may lose its structural strength more quickly than plaster when subjected to severe heat.
Review and Conclude
Plaster has a much more distinct aesthetic appeal than drywall. Plaster is more long-lasting than drywall and can give a room a more polished appearance. Professionals can quickly and easily apply plaster to achieve any desired finish, including glossy, stucco, or smooth. Plaster is preferable to drywall for curving walls and ceilings due to its greater flexibility.
Although plaster is more refined looking, drywall still provides many design alternatives. Drywall with an "orange peel" texture looks rough or wrinkled, and experts can use brushes or towels to create different patterns. Smooth drywall finishes are conceivable, but the extra work required to achieve them means they aren't used very often.
Time Required for Setup
Wallboard for a complete house can be installed using the precut sheets in just a few days by a skilled workforce. Due to its ease of installation and suitability for large-scale projects, drywall is a popular choice.
Plastering a room requires a few more steps, and neglecting them could lead to irreparable mistakes. If you want to put plaster finishes in your building, you should set aside a few weeks for installation and another few days for drying.
Plaster walls absorb sound significantly better than regular drywall. Plaster is very solid and has no empty spaces, so it is difficult for sound waves to travel through it. Since it blocks out ambient noise, it's a great choice for apartment complexes and can increase privacy in single-family homes.
In contrast, sound travels easily through drywall due to its thin construction and the absence of a solid backing. Installing specialised acoustic plasterboard or fibreglass insulation behind your walls as opposed to conventional plaster can help absorb sound.
Saves Money and Reduces Carbon Emissions
Even though there is a lot of debate about which finishing style is more environmentally friendly, drywall comes out on top when it comes to a building's total energy use. When combined with good insulation, drywall can reduce the amount of money spent on heating and cooling a structure.
An experienced drywall installer can use sealants and a specific hanging technique to produce an airtight barrier, thereby minimising air loss.
Although plaster isn't as energy efficient as drywall, it does offer some benefits that should be considered. Plaster often lasts much longer than drywall and reduces the frequency with which it must be replaced.
This reduces the amount of materials that would otherwise be wasted during construction and in subsequent maintenance. A building's cooling costs and humidity levels can both be lowered in hotter climates by using recycled-material plaster, which has both properties.
DIY Installation for Plaster vs. Drywall
If you're debating between plaster and drywall for a wall that's been taken down to the studs, take a look at the following:
- Plastering may be done in any home, even older ones with irregular stud spacing. Drywall, however, is not like this at all.
- It is simple to make mistakes when plastering, therefore it is important to have plenty of practice. Available from USG and other companies, corner beads and trim streamline the procedure but make it more challenging to fix mistakes. Plaster hardens as a result of a chemical reaction, making it more difficult to sand than typical drywall mud. Plaster is used for this very reason.
- You'll need to apply at least three coats of plaster after you've finished installing the lath. Drywall finishing tools are similar to plastering equipment, but a full set of carpentry tools is needed to set up a wood lathe. You simply need a screw gun, a T-square, a measuring tape, and either a knife or a drywall saw to put up drywall.
- Plastering is a time-consuming process that can take many times as long as drywall installation and finishing combined. Plaster hardens and becomes unusable once it has dried, so it's important to keep your expectations in check. Tape and drywall mud can be applied to the walls of an entire room in a matter of hours. When using a time-saving device, such as a banjo, this is much more the case. A novice worker can need a whole workday to apply one coat of plaster to the same room.
Do You Recommend Plaster or Drywall?
For the interior walls of a structure, the most popular materials are plaster and drywall. What makes a house a good fit for a person and their needs is what determines the best design.
Because of its durability, rigidity, and sound-absorbing properties, plaster remains a popular building material. Nevertheless, setting it up is a laborious and time-consuming task.
Drywall is a less expensive option that can be put up by a do-it-yourselfer with some amount of competence (with some support from family or friends).
Privacy, soundproofing, and insulation are just a few of the many benefits of installing internal walls. In the 1950s, drywall became the standard material for interior walls. Before WWII, most houses were built with plaster and lath. The studs in a wall are usually covered with wood lath before being plastered. The modern conventional backing material is a metal mesh rather than a hardwood lathe. Plaster walls could be the best option for an older home with atypical stud spacing.
Plaster was a smooth coating applied to stone or mud-brick buildings in ancient China and India using clay and gypsum. Plasterboard, also known as drywall, became increasingly popular during the 1930s and 1940s, causing the product to fall out of favour. Drywall consists of two layers of strong paper encased in gypsum plaster. It can be cut to size to be used in conjunction with existing door frames, window frames, and electrical outlets. As a result of the wartime shortage of workers, drywall became increasingly popular.
A more effective sound barrier than drywall is plaster because of its density. It's possible to give it a smooth, glossy, or textured surface. It's also the method of choice when drywalling a room with unusual features, such as a curved wall. When the drywall is installed, there is much more leeway for accommodating extra layers. Since the plasterboard is excessively permeable, insulation should be installed in the space behind it.
Popular alternatives to drywall include spray foam and fibreglass batts. It takes more time and effort to plaster a room, necessitating a more specialised skill set from the installer. The mineral gypsum used in plaster has a high water content yet is not flammable. When exposed to extreme heat, drywall could lose its structural integrity more quickly than plaster. Using the precut sheets, drywall for an entire house may be built in a few days.
Additional procedures are involved in plastering a room, and skipping them could result in disastrous mistakes. Plaster isn't as energy-efficient as drywall, but it does have its advantages. While corner beads and trim speed up the process, they also make it more difficult to repair faults. Since plaster hardens due to a chemical reaction, it is more challenging to sand than regular drywall mud. One coat of plaster can take a beginner a full workday to complete in the same room.
- Drywall was widely used for interior walls beginning in the 1950s.
- Most of today's homes have the product installed on their inside walls.
- If you ask for options for wall construction in your home, you will likely hear about drywall and plaster.
- If you need to fix any plaster, you can do it yourself, but if you want to put up a whole wall, you should first have some professional training and experience under your belt.
- Before undertaking any interior renovation job, every homeowner should choose between plaster and drywall.
- Before deciding, you should learn about each material's characteristics and benefits and drawbacks.
- More quickly and with less compound is the goal compared to a plaster wall.
- However, the product fell out of favour in the 1930s and 1940s due to the rise in popularity of plasterboard, sometimes known as drywall.
- Finally, the fireproof qualities of the walls come from the high water content in the gypsum used to make the plaster.
- Plaster has a lot of benefits, but it is used less in homes than it used to be.
- Despite being an acceptable alternative to the traditional three-coat genuine plaster process, veneer plaster is rarely used in modern construction.
- Expert technicians fasten the panels to the structure using drywall screws or nails.
- In comparison to plaster, drywall's benefits are crystal clear.
- Because the boards are wet, drywall is fireproof as well.
- Drywall is not invincible, but it is an excellent option for interior walls.
- Drywall boards made of gypsum can be damaged easily by moisture and may also harbour mould.
- The installation of plaster requires more labour than that of drywall.
- Plaster improves the insulation of a room.
- Due to its density, plaster is often a better sound barrier than drywall.
- Even though drywall has replaced plaster as the norm in most homes today, plaster is still used for various cosmetic upgrades.
- Plaster has greater sophistication and adaptability.
- Plaster, in contrast to drywall, can be finished in various ways, including smooth, glossy, and textured.
- When making changes or repairs to the plumbing or electrical system, cutting into plaster walls is a more difficult task.
- Compared to other options, drywall requires less time and money to install.
- The insulating properties of drywall are superior.
- It will be necessary to have a professional replace the plaster on the walls so that insulation can be installed.
- The drywall may be your best option if you are on a tight budget.
- Plaster is preferable to drywall for curving walls and ceilings due to its greater flexibility.
- A skilled workforce can install the wallboard for a complete house using precut sheets in just a few days.
- If you want to put plaster finishes in your building, you should set aside a few weeks for installation and another few days for drying.
- Plaster walls absorb sound significantly better than regular drywall.
- Installing specialised acoustic plasterboard or fibreglass insulation behind your walls as opposed to conventional plaster can help absorb sound.
- Although plaster isn't as energy efficient as drywall, it does offer some benefits that should be considered.
- If you're debating between plaster and drywall for a wall that's been taken down to the studs, look at the following: Plastering may be done in any home, even older ones with irregular stud spacing.
- It is simple to make mistakes when plastering. Therefore it is important to have plenty of practice.
- Available from USG and other companies, corner beads and trim streamline the procedure but make it more challenging to fix mistakes.
- After installing the lath, you'll need to apply at least three coats of plaster.
- Drywall finishing tools are similar to plastering equipment, but a full set of carpentry tools is needed to set up a wood lathe.
- Plastering is a time-consuming process that can take as long as drywall installation and finishing combined.
- For the interior walls of a structure, the most popular materials are plaster and drywall.
Frequently Asked Questions About Plaster
This might seem like a simple question, but it doesn't exactly have the simplest answer. Because drywall comes in big pre-rendered sheets and can be installed so quickly, it tends to have a reputation for being cheaper than the painstaking process of hand plastering a wall. In fact, in many markets, plaster is becoming synonymous with a luxurious and handcrafted finish.
So which one is cheaper? The answer is, as you expected that it depends. When it comes to the pure cost of the raw materials, drywall is more expensive than wet plastering.
Drywall usually has some finishing material over the top, and typically you'll find that most people use a compound for this purpose. Whichever finishing material you choose to use will affect the overall appearance of the drywall.
There's absolutely no reason you can't apply a plaster skim over the top of the drywall. This will give the drywall the visual appearance of a wet plastered wall.
If you want wet plaster finished walls, you don't need to put down drywall first. Instead, the plaster is applied directly to the wall.
You may live in a home that already has drywall installed but like the aesthetic appearance of a plaster wall.
Drywall is very smooth, unlike plaster which has a textured surface when finished.
It's not uncommon for a homeowner to apply a thin plaster veneer over the top of their drywall walls to replicate the finish of an authentically wet plastered wall.
Many people who purchase an older home for the first time are surprised to find the walls are finished with a traditional plaster method. Many of them ask if they should replace the plaster walls with drywall?
In most cases, if the original plaster walls are still in good condition, there is no need to replace them with drywall.
Removing plaster walls is labour-intensive, which means that it's expensive. It's also an incredibly messy process, which generates a lot of dust and debris. If you're replacing plaster walls with drywall, you have to be committed to it.
Veneer plaster offers the look and durability of the plaster and the strength of drywall. Plaster veneer is a technique for surfacing interior walls. The base is a gypsum board with moisture and adhering qualities (similar to drywall). After installing the board, one or two layers of plaster are applied.