What’s the difference between drywall and plaster?

08-09-2022

 

There’s a lot to think about when you’re renovating a commercial space or building a new home. One of the most essential parts of the construction can often slip by without much thought – the walls!

Given the many different functions you may need your wall to serve – as a basic room separator, privacy, sound dampening and as insulation for your home or office – it’s vital that you think through which available material will best suit your needs.

Two of the most common materials that interior walls are built from today are plaster and drywall. They each have benefits and disadvantages over one another that will help to inform your decision.

Drywall

 

Drywall is one of the more popular materials used in construction today, due to its ease of use and how quickly it can be installed on site. While more specialist varieties of drywall are available, such as more insulating, fire-retardant or sound-dampening options, drywall is more commonly prepared by pressing a special core of gypsum between two layers of paper.

As it arrives pre-fabricated, it is very simple and quick to install, and can be cut to the shape of any wall. Drywall takes paint easily and is also very stable; shelving can be hung from it without concern. 

It does have several key disadvantages, however, such as its susceptibility to water damage in high-moisture environments (including mould growth). It is also quite easy to damage accidentally, although relatively easy to fix.

Plaster

 

Plaster is a much more established building material than drywall, and has been refined over hundreds of years. Unlike drywall, which is pre-made before it is installed, plaster arrives at the construction site in a powder form and must be combined with water to become a workable mixture. It also requires a thin strip of wood (called a lath) to bond to as the wall is gradually built up. Three layers of plaster are required for it to reach the appropriate thickness and rigidity. 

These layers, and the comparatively high water content in the mixture, generally means that a plaster wall will be thicker than drywall. This gives it more strength, and provides more of an insulating barrier between rooms, for both sound and heat.

However, there are certainly downsides to plaster as well. Primarily, plastering costs more than drywall to install because of the more expensive labour involved, and may not fall within your budget. It is also difficult to paint due to its porous nature.

Ease of repairability is also important to mention, as plaster can crack with the settling of your building over time and fixing cracks in walls could require a potentially expensive plaster repair. 

Which one is right for you?

 

Whether plaster or drywall is right for your project depends on a number of factors.

If you are planning for your wall to be decorative, supporting frames and shelves, and don’t need it to serve a purpose in your building’s infrastructure, then drywall may be the right choice for your particular circumstance. However, drywall isn’t as durable as plaster, and will most likely require more maintenance.

Plaster  is more effective at blocking sound and trapping heat than drywall, which should be an important consideration for any project. If you are in a moisture-prone area, then plaster may be a more viable long-term option for your building, as it doesn’t have as much of an issue with retaining water as drywall does. 

If you have any further questions about the pros and cons of drywall and plaster, then our friendly team at Melbourne Metro Plasterers are here to help. We have over 20 years of experience as a top Melbourne plasterer in the residential and commercial plastering industry, and our expertise is at your disposal as you’re looking for the right solution for your project.

Give us a call on (03) 9993 7134, or fill out our online contact form at any time.