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Plaster vs. Drywall

You have heard of plaster and drywall for wall material, but you aren’t quite sure what’s the difference. 

Quick History Lesson…Plaster vs drywall

Drywall and plaster are the most popular choices for finishing a wall and most likely your walls are one of the two. Homes built prior to 1950 typically had plaster walls. Plaster walls date back to ancient times, but fell out of favor during the post WWII housing boom.  Construction saw a need for cheap labor and material for returning war veterans, here entered drywall.  Plaster has since fallen to the wayside and is now typically used for specific situations or special textured wall finishes.


Plaster: Plaster walls are composed of small horizontal wood panels called lathe that are attached to the vertical wall studs.  A small about of spacing exists between each lathe to allow the multiple layers of plaster to adhere.   Plaster starts as a powder that includes limestone and in the olden days, horsehair. Who would have thought. It is mixed with water and applied in multiple coats. Think artists in the old days.

Drywall, aka. plasterboard, wallboard, gypsum board, or LAGYP, phew: Drywall are panels of pressed gypsum plaster between fiberglass matting or heavyweight paper. Drywall typically comes in sheets of 4’ x 8’ in ¼”, ½” and ¾” thickness. It is attached directly to the vertical wall studs using drywall screws.


Wanna learn some more?

Characteristics of old homes with plaster walls includes lack of wall insulation. You would be lucky to find old t-shirts paper inside your wall.

auen Bottom Line.  Drywall is the most practical material of the two if you are starting from scratch. Plaster is beautiful and durable, but the price might send you over the edge.