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Plaster Vs Drywall: Which Wall Is Superior?

Plaster vs. Drywall: which is superior? It’s a question that sparks debate among homeowners and builders. Since drywall’s invention, people still can’t decide if it’s better than plastic.  

What is the answer? We’ll look at both so you can decide.

What Is Plaster?

Plaster Vs DrywallView in gallery

Plaster is a building material for walls. It has ancient origins dating back to early Greek and Egyptian architecture.

Plaster is a mixture of lime, water, and sand. As a paste, it’s poured over a mesh or lath. Plaster adds thickness to a wall and also makes it sound proof 

What Is Drywall?

What Is Drywall?View in gallery
Mark Pinkerton – vi360 photography

Drywall, is known as sheetrock. The first plasterboard plant opened in the late 1800s. The word “sheetrock” emerged in the early 1900s. 

Related: Best Drywall Patch Kit for Your Home Repair Projects

Drywall is a mixture of plaster, gypsum, and fiber, and comes in 4×8 sheets. 

Pros And Cons Of Plaster

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dSPACE Studio Ltd, AIA

There’s a reason it’s a high-end wall covering that’s sought after. Here are the pros and cons of plaster walls: 

Pros

Higher End – plaster is expensive. Like granite countertops, plaster walls make a home look  more valuable. 

More Authentic – plaster has organic materials. If you want your home to look old but well taken care of, plaster walls are your best choice. 

More Soundproof – plaster walls offer better soundproofing than drywall 

Good Insulator –  since plaster walls are thicker and more solid than drywall, it is more often believed that plaster walls offer better insulation than drywall. 

Green Materials – according to the National Lime Association, “Lime absorbs and neutralizes sulfur oxides from these gases, helping to prevent acid rain and reducing emissions of hazardous air pollutants, including mercury.”

All In The Details – you won’t see any fancy Greek light coverings or crown molding with drywall. But with plaster, experts can craft just about any shape or design that you can imagine. 

Fire-Resistant – according to UL experiments, plaster walls burn three times slower than drywall. While drywall doesn’t burn quickly, it also doesn’t offer much protection. 

Rare In New Homes – this may be a con in some books, but being part of the reason a good wall covering doesn’t die is a great thing. Being rare means that you may be the only one in the neighborhood with plaster walls. 

Cons

Harder To Install – plaster requires an expert to install and even then, it can take weeks.

Costly – this is the number one reason people choose drywall. Plaster is expensive. Due to labor expenses, although the materials cost more than sheets of drywall. this is why plaster is high-end. 

Pros And Cons Of Drywall

Pros And Cons Of DrywallView in gallery
450 Architects, Inc.

Drywall is the most popular wall covering. That doesn’t mean it’s not without its weak points. Here are the most notable pros and cons of using drywall as opposed to plaster.  

Pros

Easier To Install – anyone with a drywall knife and drill can hang drywall. Finishing it is another story, as taping and mudding have to be done right. 

Can Hang Stuff – this may seem small, but if you have plaster, you understand why it’s important. While you can hang items on plaster walls, it’s easier to do so on the drywall as you can use drywall anchors. 

Cheap – drywall is cheap compared to other wall covers. This is the main reason people choose drywall.  You can paint it, put wallpaper over it. 

Making Changes Is Easy – changing drywall is easy. You can take walls down and put them back up. This isn’t possible with plaster. Once it is up, it cannot be salvaged if you’d decide to move walls around. 

Cons

Not As High End – drywall is cheaper, which means it isn’t as high-end.

Can Look Cheap –  if the mudding isn’t done right, it can look messy and cheap. 

Should You Remove Plaster Walls?

Yellow and red room with wood floors plaster wallsView in gallery
cg interiors group

The short answer is no, you should not remove plaster walls or change them to drywall. You also shouldn’t cover them with some other type of wall covering. In fact, unless the plaster is a hazard. 

Furniture and decor will modernize your house. 

How To Repair Plaster Walls

Repairing plaster walls isn’t easy. Hire a professional. 

Types Of Cracks In Plaster Walls

Hairline Cracks – hairline cracks are tiny cracks in plaster that are long and thin. They may loosen pieces that look like paint chips. In order to repair this type of crack, remove the pieces and plaster over it.

Wide Cracks – if the wide crack is stationary, you will need to apply tape before adding plaster. If the crack is deep, you can feel it with plaster before adding tape on the top. This prevents the tape from breaking. 

Moving Cracks – moving cracks are difficult. If you don’t remove plaster that is moving, it will cause problems later. When you do, you will need to apply all three coats of plaster back on.

For a guide on plaster wall repair, check out this article. We go over how to repair and renovate plaster walls. We let you know the layers of plaster so you can fix those moving cracks in no time.

How To Repair Drywall

Yellow and red room with wood floors plaster walls 1View in gallery
Kara Mosher
Drywall hallView in gallery

If you have a home with drywall that needs repairing, it’s easy. It’s always a good idea to have a drywall repair kit on hand. Take these steps and you shouldn’t run into any problems. 

Cut Out The Damaged Piece

For small cracks, you can cover them with tape and mud. But best results, you need to cut out the damaged piece of drywall. You can feel the small hole with newspaper and tape it. However, the correct way is to cut the piece out.

To do so, you need to find the stud. Find it and cut the drywall halfway through the stud. The stud should be half, though not fully, exposed. Do the same sixteen inched, or wherever the next stud is. 

You should end up with a square or rectangle piece cut away from the wall. Each stud should be exposed halfway through. This is so you have something for both pieces of drywall to attach.

If you can’t find a stud, you can secure a new 2×4 to a backboard or baseboard. Make sure two opposing sides of the drywall has something to screw onto. 

Make Sure Area Is Flat

After you cut the drywall out, make sure that there isn’t any mud, sheetrock, or screw heads sticking out. The area should be completely flat. You can scrape off most things with the knife or painter’s tool. 

Measure New Area 

After you clean an area, you can measure it, and in multiple ways. Each drywall piece should be measured, but not the studs. 

Measure New Are And Cut New Piece

Yes, measure again. Measuring twice will reduce mistakes. After you measure, mark and cut the new drywall. If there are any outlets or switches, make sure you cut holes for them. 

Install The New Drywall

Screw the drywall in. Make sure the screws are flush with the drywall so you don’t have to re-tape and mud them. Now, all you need to do is tape and mud the drywall. 

Mudding Drywall

Mudding drywall is the hardest part of installation. You need drywall tape, adhered to cracks with drywall mud. Then, use a painter’s or drywall tool to add a thin layer of mud on top.

If your other wall is stomped or has popcorn, you should match it. If you have trouble, call a professional to help out. Repairs aren’t nearly as expensive as entire walls. For a complete guide on repairing and even installing drywall, check out this informative article

Plaster Vs. Drywall Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need To Plaster Over Drywall?

Plaster veneer can be applied to drywall or walls. This process is called “gluing.” You take an existing wall surface and paint on a an adhesive compound.

Next, you apply a small layer of “base coat” plaster. After the walls are cured, you can paint them or put wallpaper over them. 

How Can You Tell Between Drywall or Plaster?

There are a few methods you can use to help determine the difference between drywall or plaster. The easiest way is with a thumbtack or pin. Whichever you choose, push it into the wall to see how hard it is.

Drywall is soft. Plaster is hard. With plaster, you can’t stick a pin or thumbtack in it.

When Was Drywall First Used?

In the early 1900’s, people began using drywall. Its purpose was to safeguard homes against fires. It was advertised as a “poor man’s plaster.”

Plaster Vs. Drywall Conclusion

There isn’t a clear winner. Plaster and drywall have its advantages and disadvantages. It depends on your home and what you want.

If you have children, plaster might be better because it is soundproof. In cold climates, drywall is better because of its insulation. Plaster is harder and more expensive to install than drywall.

We could continue discussing which one is better, and we would end right where we started.