Drywall and plaster are two common building materials that we use. When it comes to taking our own building project, we tend to confuse ourself.
To give you an overview about the two material, we have written this head to head between drywall and plaster. Have a look-
Material & Labor Cost
Material costs are about the same between drywall and plaster. However, the labor costs are much lower for drywall vs plaster. Drywall is lightweight, formulaic, standard, and easily installed. Plaster takes more finesse, time, and a skilled workforce and is considered a higher end effect. Plaster is many times more expensive than drywall based on labor differences.
Better Insulation vs Soundproof
Drywall is by far more common in homes today because it can be combined with modern insulation which has proven very effective at making a home energy efficient.
The insular properties of drywall when combined with the best insulation materials being used between the studs is a compelling reason someone would choose drywall over plaster.
There are exceptions where some homes made of lath and plaster walls were made extremely thick and are able to provide excellent insulation but in general drywall wins out in this category.
If a more soundproof home is the most important consideration, plaster is the better bet. Also, plaster is more fireproof and has been associated with higher quality homes when a skilled plaster craftsman is utilized.
Plaster lasts a very long time unless it is damaged, develops stress cracks, or becomes physically separated from the wall due to movement from the underlying material.
Although it can become water damaged, the damage involved is based on the amount of water. Plaster does not usually absorb water like drywall so it won't house mold or cause as much of a problem in easily flooded areas. Places like New Orleans with the historic Katrina flood experienced first-hand how houses with plaster walls were able to hose off and move forward instead of being demolished like their drywall counterparts.
Because plaster can break when hammering a nail into it, care should be exercised when hanging anything on plaster walls. Just like drywall, plaster can be repaired if damaged. However, for it to look professional a tradesman skilled in plaster is recommended.
Plaster is Labor intensive
Plaster is very labor intensive which is one of the reasons drywall replaced it as the most common way to wall a house. It is not cost effective to retrofit a house with modern insulation if plaster has been used in most cases.
Since plaster is a mortar and not a board, remodeling or re-designing the walls can be tricky and require someone skilled in plaster for consultation. Any scraping, stripping, or other modifications can cause damage to the plaster. Depending on the geographic location of the plaster work, there may or may not be an experienced tradesman locally available.
Drywall Does not bend but Plaster does
Curved walls are better with plaster because drywall does not bend. It offers an old-world charm that dominated the finest home construction from the 1700s to 1950 in America.
Specialty applications and ornate textures can be achieved using plaster instead of drywall. Plaster can achieve a different look and can be used on arches and curved walls only seen in exquisitely designed homes of old.
People have sounded the cry that gypsum used in drywall can be toxic to those harvesting it and there is a limited amount available in the Earth. According to the latest count, the supply of gypsum should be available for over 300 more years.
There have been environmentalists expressing concern about the amounts of these materials ending up in landfills. In addition, a distinct disadvantage is the propensity of this material to mold and absorb water. Recent improvements have included drywall being made without paper and treated with chemicals to reduce the likelihood of mold growth.
Remediation for a mold problem can be extremely expensive and can also encompass the declining health of the homeowner. Mold is a situation to avoid if at all possible. Drywall is thinner and has joists whereas plaster doesn't. Drywall is also easily damaged and dented.
One More Thing
Drywall, because it is standard, has many efficiencies inherent in using it, thus driving down the costs, frustration factors, and even timelines. It is optimized for making professional looking walls which are structurally sound.