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Which Is Better, Plaster Walls or Drywall?

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    For a long time, drywall and plaster have been at odds over which is better for interior wall finishes. Many homeowners need clarification about which alternative is better because each has advantages and disadvantages. 

    By the end of this detailed guide, you will know which option is ideal for your house based on your tastes and requirements.

    What Is Plaster?

    Walls and ceilings covered with plaster have been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. To safeguard the outer walls of their temples and monuments, ancient builders utilised lime plaster and clay plaster. Houses built in the late 1800s often covered their walls with Portland cement plaster.

    The two most common varieties of modern plaster are wet plaster and plasterboard. Powdered clay, lime, cement, sand, or gypsum is the basic ingredient of wet plaster, another name for plaster of Paris. This plaster powder can be mixed with water to make a thick paste or slurry that can be trowelled onto walls. 

    Although they share certain elements, plaster produces a smooth surface when applied to walls to hide defects in a finish layer, while stucco is more of an ornamental plaster that gives a room a rustic look; the two materials are sometimes confused because of this.

    Plaster is Best for:

    • Historic mansions
    • Isolation from noise
    • Strength at its peak
    • Exposed to high levels of humidity 

    Plaster Pros:

    • Superior air and sound insulation; thicker than drywall
    • Crafted with a lifetime of use in mind
    • ecologically friendly
    • Protected from mould
    • Safe for children
    • Applicable on indoor and outdoor surfaces

    Plaster Cons:

    • Work and effort required to set up
    • Has the potential to break if not set up properly
    • Impairment of WiFi Signals by Thick Walls
    • It is not easy to drive decorative nails using a hammer.

    What Is Drywall?

    Drywall comes in two different forms: panels and joint compounds. It is also called sheetrock, wallboard, cement board, and gypsum board. Drywall panels made of gypsum (calcium sulphate dihydrate) are covered on both sides with paper by manufacturers. This keeps the board in shape while the installers fix it to the wall using drywall screws or another type of fastener.

    In most new home construction projects, the studs in the walls are covered with ordinary drywall panels, and the insulation is fibreglass. Several manufacturers create various varieties of drywall with additives to increase functioning or conform to certain building requirements. For example, green boards can withstand moisture and mould more than gypsum plaster blue boards. The second one has a plaster-like feel because it is made of paper layers of varying thicknesses. Basements and workplaces even have alternatives for soundproof drywall.

    Drywall is Best for

    • Hanging things on walls is a breeze.
    • Totally level surfaces
    • Walls are less likely to crack.
    • An efficient and reasonably priced installation
    • A contemporary style for the house

    Drywall Pros

    • Quick and easy to install; even novices can do it in a day.
    • Reasonably priced
    • Various sizes and styles available; simple to paint over

    Drywall Cons

    • Is vulnerable to shifting when a house settles
    • Mould and water damage are possibilities.
    • Gypsum dust that is released into the air while drywall is being cut, drilled, or sanded
    • Protect your lungs from gypsum dust by wearing protective gear, including goggles, a mask, and gloves.
    • Challenging to set up on curved surfaces

    what is plastering in concrete

    Plaster vs Drywall: Key Differences

    Regarding wall finishing options, drywall and plaster are the norm. Consequently, many homeowners may ask their contractors, "What's better: plaster or drywall?" It is imperative that you, as a contractor, give this matter considerable thought before offering a suggestion. Each choice has benefits and drawbacks, and it takes work to change after you've settled on one. Clients are easy to lose if you recommend plaster, but they decide drywall would work better. Consequently, when we compare plasterboard with drywall, these are the main distinctions you should consider.

    Material Makeup

    Comparing the parts of plaster and drywall is the first order of business. Every handyperson knows that studs in a ceiling or wall are the usual anchor points for gypsum sheets, which are then fastened into place using screws or nails. Drywall compound and tape are applied over the gaps between the various boards once the sheets are placed. After that, the fasteners are coated with the compound. The final skin coat you obtain with a higher-level drywall finish will resemble plaster, but it won't hold a candle to a real plaster job.

    Different techniques are used to apply plaster. The most common substrate for this is a blueboard or a wallboard. It looks a lot like sheetrock at first look, but it's designed to withstand the high moisture content of wet plaster, so it forms a strong bond with it. Consequently, you end up with a finish that covers the wall, often requiring more than one coat.


    If you want to hang that lovely wallpaper over plaster, you must paint it beforehand to smooth its rough texture. Drywall provides a flat surface to execute your artistic vision, although plastered walls are typically considered more beautiful due to their textured appearance. If you're looking for something more creative than the standard wallpaper or paint job, you can also engage professionals to do artistic wall designs.


    Plaster is the material most often suggested for this area due to its many desirable qualities. One reason is that plaster has a longer lifespan than drywall, even with high-quality drywall finishes. Compared to drywall, plaster offers superior insulation, soundproofing, and fireproofing, among other benefits. The fact that mould cannot grow on plaster is another argument in its favour. In contrast, mildew and mould could grow from a leak hidden under your drywall. From an aesthetic standpoint, plaster is also preferable.


    To keep their original properties, drywall and plaster require regular upkeep. In most cases, drywall requires significantly less maintenance. You won't have to spend as much time or money finding an artisan to work on it because it's easier to put together. Plus, you could always do some of the work if you're very ambitious. 


    We can't discount the price. Plaster is often considered the more expensive, high-end alternative; it offers many of the advantages we've just mentioned but is also more expensive. The cost of materials and labour both have a role in this. Compared to simply lifting and screwing in drywall sheets, plaster application typically takes more time and costs more money. So, if your home or business is on a huge property, you should determine which parts require the best finish first.

    Veneer plaster is one area where we can agree. This is a great compromise if you want a plaster finish but can't justify the high labour cost. Nevertheless, drywall can still produce an aesthetically pleasing surface, particularly when applied at higher-finish degrees.


    Plaster can be either gypsum-based, lime-based, or cement-based.


    A delicate, airy substance that resembles chalk. Its smooth texture, ease of installation on brick or concrete, and lack of curing time make it a popular choice for indoor use.

    A delicate, airy substance that resembles chalk. Its smooth texture, ease of installation on brick or concrete, and lack of curing time make it a popular choice for indoor use.

    A delicate, airy substance that resembles chalk. Its smooth texture, ease of installation on brick or concrete, and lack of curing time make it a popular choice for indoor use.


    The standard for houses constructed before 1919. You may use it indoors or out, and it lasts a long time (indeed, it becomes stronger with use).


    Portland cement, water, and sand are incorporated into a slurry. It is utilised for the exterior of homes and is more often referred to as stucco.

    Board, soundproof, fireproof, mould-resistant, volatile organic compound (VOC) absorbing, and plasterboard are the most popular varieties of drywall. They come in thicknesses from 1/4 inch to 5/8 inch, with 1/2 inch being the most typical for household applications.

    Plaster provides many more possibilities for application and modification, even though there are more varieties of drywall. Also, plaster is incredibly versatile; it may be used to make columns, elaborate ceiling borders, textured wall designs, and a host of other architectural embellishments.

    FAQs About Plastering

    Drywall is less resistant to moisture compared to plaster walls. Plaster can withstand moisture better without significant damage.

    Plaster walls offer more design flexibility as they can be moulded and shaped into various architectural details more easily than drywall.

    Drywall is more commonly used in modern construction due to its ease of installation and cost-effectiveness.

    Drywall is generally considered more environmentally friendly compared to plaster walls due to its lower energy consumption during production.

    Plaster walls typically require less maintenance over time compared to drywall, as they are less prone to damage and wear. However, both may require occasional repairs and touch-ups.


    Plaster is superior for a long-lasting finish due to its hardness and density. Plaster walls persist for decades without replacement because the layers harden into a solid mass after they dry. However, the solidity of plaster walls might make it more challenging to hang artwork or photos on them. Instead of nails, use screws or adhesive to hang artwork on the wall to avoid breaking plaster.

    Unlike plaster, drywall is substantially less dense and has an open cavity behind each sheet. This makes them more prone to harm, mould growth, and the possibility of more frequent repairs. But drywall might be your best bet if you're thinking about nailing or pinning decorations to your walls. You should create a tiny hole when you hammer or drive nails into drywall; it's straightforward.

    Installation Time

    Thanks to the precut sheets, a skilled crew can build drywall for a whole house in a matter of days. Drywall is a popular choice for bigger structures and projects with limited time due to its quick and straightforward installation.

    There are a few more procedures for installing plaster, and if you try to cut corners, you can end up with damaged walls. When planning the installation of plaster finishes in your building, remember that the process can take several weeks and an additional three to five days for the plaster to cure.


    Compared to regular drywall, plaster walls are far more effective at reducing noise. It is difficult for sound waves to travel through plaster because it is dense and includes no empty areas. It can provide seclusion to rooms in single-family houses and is an excellent choice for multi-unit structures due to its soundproofing properties.

    In contrast, drywall panels are relatively thin and feature a space behind them, facilitating sound transmission. Soundproofing a room without plaster is possible using specialised acoustic plasterboard or fibreglass insulation placed underneath drywall.


    Placing insulation underneath drywall is preferable to using it alone because drywall is too thin to insulate a building. Insulation is easily added when drywall is installed or replaced, and the most typical types of insulation are spray foam and fibreglass batts. Loose-fit cellulose is another viable choice for those who would prefer to insulate without tearing away the drywall.

    Insulating already-plastered walls can be challenging despite plaster's inherent superiority as an insulator. This can provide a challenge for homeowners whose homes were constructed in the pre-central heating and cooling era. To insulate already existing plaster walls, it is necessary to have a specialist modify the building to accept insulation. If you try to handle it independently, you risk damaging the walls and making them more susceptible to mould and water damage.

    artistic plaster gray white wall

    Length of Life

    When done right, plaster may endure for generations, making it a fantastic long-term investment. Without major problems like water stains, mould, or termite damage, drywall has a 30-70-year lifespan.


    Because it is non-toxic and improves insulation, plastered rooms use less energy than non-plastered ones. Another eco-friendly feature of lime-based plaster is that similar to plants, it collects carbon dioxide from the air. However, lead-based paint may be present in older homes with plaster walls.


    Plaster walls and drywall have been debated for years due to their advantages and disadvantages. Plaster is best for historical mansions, isolation from noise, strength, and high humidity exposure. It offers superior air and sound insulation, is thicker than drywall, and is ecologically friendly. Drywall comes in two forms: panels and joint compounds, also known as sheetrock, wallboard, cement board, and gypsum board. Drywall panels are covered with paper to keep them in shape while being fixed to the wall using drywall screws or another fastener.

    Drywall is best for hanging things on walls and level surfaces, with less cracking, efficient and reasonably priced installation, and a contemporary style. It is quick and easy to install, affordable and comes in various sizes and styles. However, it is vulnerable to shifting when a house settles, mould and water damage, and gypsum dust that can be released into the air during drywall work.

    Contrary to popular belief, plaster is the most preferred material for interior wall finishes due to its longer lifespan, superior insulation, soundproofing, fireproofing, and aesthetic appeal. Drywall provides a flat surface for artistic designs, while plastered walls are considered more beautiful due to their textured appearance.

    In conclusion, plaster walls and drywall are both popular choices for interior wall finishes due to their advantages and disadvantages. It is essential for contractors to carefully consider each option before making a decision.

    Difficulty in upkeep and cost are key factors when choosing between drywall and plaster. Difficulty in maintenance is often due to the cost of materials and labour, while the plaster is considered the more expensive option. Veneer plaster is a compromise for those who want a plaster finish but cannot justify the high labour cost.

    Plaster can be gypsum-based, lime-based, or cement-based, with gypsum being a smooth texture and lime being the standard for houses built before 1919. The most popular varieties of drywall include board, soundproof, fireproof, mold-resistant, volatile organic compound (VOC) absorbing, and plasterboard. Plaster walls are superior for long-lasting finishes due to their hardness and density, but they may be more prone to damage, mould growth, and frequent repairs.

    Drywall is a popular choice for larger structures and projects with limited time due to its quick and straightforward installation. However, cutting corners can lead to damaged walls. Plaster walls are more effective at reducing noise than regular drywall, making it an excellent choice for multi-unit structures. Insulation underneath drywall is preferable, as it is too thin to insulate a building.

    Difficulty in insulating already-plastered walls can be avoided by having a specialist modify the building to accept insulation. Difficulty in insulating existing plaster walls can be addressed by having a specialist modify the building to accept insulation.

    Difficulty in insulating plaster walls can be mitigated by having a specialist modify the building to accept insulation. Plaster has a 30-70-year lifespan when done right.

    Content Summary

    • The age-old debate between plaster and drywall for interior wall finishes persists.
    • Homeowners seek clarification on the advantages and disadvantages of plaster and drywall.
    • A detailed guide promises to help homeowners choose the ideal option based on their preferences.
    • Plaster-covered walls and ceilings date back to ancient Egyptians, utilising lime plaster for temples.
    • Late 1800s houses often used Portland cement plaster for wall coverings.
    • Modern plaster varieties include wet plaster and plasterboard with ingredients like clay, lime, and gypsum.
    • Plaster produces a smooth finish, while stucco offers a rustic look, sometimes causing confusion.
    • Plaster is recommended for historic mansions, noise isolation, strength, and high humidity resistance.
    • Plaster provides superior air and sound insulation, is eco-friendly, and safeguards against mould.
    • Drywall comes in panels and joint compounds, known as sheetrock, wallboard, and gypsum board.
    • Gypsum drywall panels are covered with paper on both sides and installed with screws or fasteners.
    • New home construction typically uses drywall panels on studs with fibreglass insulation.
    • Green boards resist moisture and mould, while soundproof drywall is suitable for basements.
    • Drywall excels at hanging items, offers level surfaces, and provides efficient and affordable installation.
    • Quick and easy drywall installation appeals to novices, and it comes in various sizes and styles.
    • Drywall is vulnerable to shifting in settling houses, potential mould and water damage, and gypsum dust release.
    • Contractors often face the dilemma of recommending plaster or drywall, with each having its pros and cons.
    • Plaster and drywall differ in material makeup, with drywall having gypsum sheets and compounds.
    • Plaster applications involve a blue board or wallboard, requiring more coats for a strong finish.
    • Plaster may need painting before applying wallpaper due to its textured surface.
    • Plaster is recommended for its longer lifespan, superior insulation, and fireproofing qualities.
    • Plaster requires more maintenance than drywall, which is easier to put together and maintain.
    • Plaster is considered a high-end option, costing more due to materials and labour.
    • Veneer plaster offers a compromise for a plaster finish with lower labour costs.
    • Plaster can be gypsum-based, lime-based, or cement-based, providing various options.
    • Gypsum is a smooth substance suitable for indoor use, while lime is traditional and durable.
    • Cement plaster, also known as stucco, is used for exterior applications.
    • Drywall comes in types like board, soundproof, fireproof, mould-resistant, and plasterboard.
    • Plaster offers more possibilities for application, including architectural embellishments.
    • Plaster is denser and harder, providing durability, but it can be challenging to hang decorations.
    • Drywall is less dense with an open cavity, making it prone to damage and frequent repairs.
    • Drywall installation is quicker with precut sheets, which are suitable for larger structures and time constraints.
    • Plaster installation requires more procedures, taking several weeks with additional curing time.
    • Plaster walls are more effective at reducing noise and are suitable for single-family houses and multi-unit structures.
    • Drywall panels are thin, facilitating sound transmission; specialised options are available for soundproofing.
    • The drywall is too thin for effective insulation; insulation is added during installation or replacement.
    • Insulating plastered walls can be challenging, requiring specialists to modify buildings for insulation.
    • Plaster can endure for generations when done right, while drywall has a 30-70-year lifespan.
    • Plastered rooms use less energy due to non-toxic and insulating properties.
    • Lime-based plaster is eco-friendly, collecting carbon dioxide from the air like plants.
    • Older homes with plaster walls may have lead-based paint, posing an environmental concern.
    • Homeowners must weigh the pros and cons of plaster and drywall before making a decision.
    • The guide emphasises the importance of considering material makeup, appearance, quality, upkeep, and cost.
    • Options like veneer plaster offer compromises for those seeking the benefits of both plaster and drywall.
    • The durability of plaster is attributed to its hardness and density, lasting for decades without replacement.
    • Drywall, with its open cavity, is more prone to harm, mould growth, and frequent repairs.
    • Drywall installation is quicker and suitable for larger structures, appealing to those with time constraints.
    • Plaster walls excel in soundproofing and insulation, offering benefits for different types of structures.
    • The debate between plaster and drywall extends to their environmental impact, with plaster being considered more eco-friendly.
    • Homeowners are urged to make an informed decision based on their specific needs and preferences.
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