Examining the Differences of Drywall Vs Plaster

With the winter season officially started, a lot of people are going to be thinking about doing some projects in their homes. If you have also thought of constructing new walls or adding to your existing home, one of the decisions that you will have to make is how you want the finish of those walls to be. Fortunately for you, there are not a lot of options when it comes to choosing the material to finish your newly constructed walls. There are just two methods of doing that, and they are Drywall or Plaster.

Drywall vs Plaster

Drywall is a material compromised of gypsum which is sandwiched between two sheets of paper and is typically sold in 4-foot by 8-foot panels, this video shows how drywall is made. Installing drywall is fairly easy. All you have to do is screw them into the studs of the wall. And these days, drywalls come in a variety of thicknesses and other options for you to choose from.

Plaster, on the other hand, requires more labor-intensive installation where labors nail lengths of wood, which are known as laths, to the studs of the wall and then apply multiple coats of plaster on the top. This method was typically used for a lot of houses that were built before World War II.

It goes without saying that both drywall vs plaster methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, so we are going to have a look at the differences between them. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how you want your house to look like. Keep reading to find out how to plan your next project:

Plaster requires intense labor work as compared to drywall

The reason why drywall witnessed a dramatic increase during World War II was that there weren’t a lot of workers available who used to build plaster walls. Today, installing plaster requires a lot more specialized labor work than installing drywall, which is precisely why you should keep an eye out on skilled laborers to do the work for you. As far as repairing is concerned, they can be of different nature ranging from being something as simple as just a touch up to rebuilding the wall completely. This is specifically true if there is some work- such as fixing the electrical wiring or plumbing issues- that needs to be done behind the walls. Drywall repair, on the other hand, happens to be a multi-step yet simple process that some homeowners can manage to do themselves as well.

Plaster is more sound-proof, but drywall provides better insulation

Considering plaster is a dense material, it is able to block sound transmission much better than drywall, which is manufactured from gypsum. However, even though plaster happens to be denser, it is unable to beat the thermal capabilities that modern insulation commonly found in drywall provides. And the reason for the insulation capabilities has to be because of the process due to which it is built in such a way that it allows for it to insulate properly. If you want to retrofit an original plaster wall with insulation, it might prove to be more challenging as compared to drywall with insulation. Moreover, the drywall vs plaster wall is also going to be less energy-efficient.

Plaster is more expensive than drywall

While the material costs of plasterboard vs drywall are roughly the same, when it comes to the installation drywall vs plaster cost, plaster is more expensive than drywall. We have already mentioned how installing plaster requires more specialized labor than installing drywall. It also takes longer to complete, so just the drywall vs plaster cost of labor is going to be three times more than drywall installation.

Hanging items on drywall is easier, but it’s impossible with plaster

Plaster material happens to be harder and more brittle than drywall. With drywall, if you want, you can push a thumbtack into the wall so you can hang posters. However, a plaster wall would not allow you to do that. Moreover, you might even chip or crack the plaster if you force something too much against it. If you still need something to hang on your plaster wall, it is recommended that instead of using nails, you should use screws. If you choose to use a hammer on drywall vs plaster wall, it could produce disastrous results.

Should I choose drywall or plaster?

Different people have different preferences when it comes to how they want their house to look like. While it is hard for us to say which material exactly should you choose, we can list the pros and cons of both the options so it would be easier for you to decide whether you want plasterboard vs drywall.

Comparing the Pro’s and Con’s of Plaster
Pro’s of PlasterCon’s of Plaster
It is much harder and creates a more durable surfaceIt can cause echoes
It can last centuriesIts labor is more expensive
It is more difficult to installIt is not suitable for a DIY project
It takes a long time to completeHanging items on it is almost impossible
It can match plasterwork in older houses for a neat lookRepairing it can be quite difficult if there are large portions that need to be repaired
Plaster is able to provide better soundproofing
It looks more high-end
Comparing the Pro’s and Con’s of Drywall
Pro’s of DrywallCon’s of Drywall
It is a faster processIt is difficult to bend a drywall
Installing it does not need a lot of experienceThe finishes won’t be as textured as the finishes on a plaster
Repairing it is quite simple and straightforwardIt can be difficult to move a drywall
It would be less expensive if you hire a handyman to do it
With some practice, you can even do it yourself
It provides better temperature insulation
There are a lot of options to choose from
It is easier to hang items on drywall

If you are working on construction something new, it doesn’t really matter which material you choose. However, you should keep in mind that if you have curved walls, plaster would be a better choice as drywall does not bend. If you are repairing walls or are making new additions to your existing home and you want to make sure that you match the aesthetic of the old walls, then using plastic would be a better option as a skilled plasterer would be able to match the new plasterwork to the one you already have.

What about the Drywall vs Plaster Cost?

The cost to install drywall is ultimately cheaper per sq. ft than that of plaster due to the labor involved, the same can be said for the cost of drywall repair also. The following table shows a comparison of plaster vs drywall costs:

Cost to Install Drywall
Small Bedroom 14,000 square foot home
$3.00 per square foot$1.15 per square foot
Cost to Install Plaster
1 Sq. Ft.Small RoomMedium Room

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