What Is The Difference Between Drywall And Plaster

What Is The Difference Between Drywall And Plaster?

When building a home or remodeling, people usually think about the granite countertops, the extensive square footage or the number of windows in the new space. Much of the time, little thought is given to one of the most integral parts of the home — the interior walls.

Most people don’t think about the walls in their homes unless there’s a problem or they move into a studio apartment. Yet, interior walls provide privacy and separation. They can also act as sound barriers, insulators and even offer additional fire resistance.

Two of the most common forms of interior wall materials are plaster and drywall. Plaster has been used since ancient times. The earliest plaster was usually made of lime, sand, animal hair and water [source: MacDonald]. Egyptian tombs, such as that of Queen Nefertari, feature paintings on the plaster walls that line their interiors [source: Getty Conservation Institute]. Ancient Roman homes are known to have been decorated with fresco artwork. Frescos are works of art that are created with different pigments on wet plaster. Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of plaster painting services. 

An alternative to lime-based plasters, gypsum-based plasters had a faster drying time [source: MacDonald]. This new form of plaster grew in popularity because it could speed up the building process.

As technology advanced, drywall became more durable and readily available. By the 1950s, drywall had surged in popularity as an interior wall material [source: Barber]. The product now covers a majority of the interior walls in modern day homes.

In this article, we’ll explore the composition, advantages and disadvantages of plaster and drywall for interior wall applications.

Types of Plaster

Plaster is all around us. This innovative mixture of gypsum, cement, sand, and water is used for various applications which many of us are familiar with. But did you know about the various types of plaster?

There are several types of plaster out there, all of which have different applications and mixing techniques. So, if you are into building and construction, art, or even medicine, you will find this article to be very helpful, as we will take a look at the variety of plasters on offer, along with everything you need to know about them. Consequently, it is believed that by the end of this, you’ll be able to decipher all the different types of plasters to efficiently carry out the tasks at end. Hitch Property Constructions has a wide range of Melbourne plaster painting

Browning plaster

This is an undercoat plaster used as a base for paint and other decorative endeavours. It is very similar to bonding plaster but is most useful with more absorbent surfaces. Furthermore, they can be used to ‘build up’ walls and are very useful in construction. That said, most builders apply browning plaster at about 8mm thickness for ceilings and 11mm thickness for walls.

Subsequently, a finish coat is added to proceedings before anything else is done to the walls. Meanwhile, the drying time for browning plaster is dependent on the weather and the season, but to be safe, most experts and enthusiasts will advise you to leave it for a day or so before coming back to work on it.

Bonding plaster

Similar to browning plaster, bonding plaster is also considered as an undercoat on which other things are added. However, due to its versatility, it is more popular for building as it has an awe-inspiring sticking ability. Therefore, it is generally used on all sorts of surfaces, even engineering blocks, and concrete. Also, it doesn’t depend on the absorption levels of a surface to be effective, which makes it the ideal wall plaster. And just like browning plaster, bonding is usually applied at 8mm for ceilings and 11mm for walls.

As mentioned earlier, it is an undercoat plaster, which means it is the first coat to be applied to a newly patched wall. Consequently, when it is levelled off, it is marked with a nail to provide a ‘key’ for the topcoat to follow.

Thistle plaster

Next up is thistle plaster; which, as opposed to bonding and browning, is a finish coat, which means it comes up at the end of the plastering process. It is one of the most popular types of finish plasters, as it is very versatile and convenient to use. Hence, it is favoured for small repair jobs and other common tasks that require plaster.

Speaking of versatility, thistle plaster can be used on plasterboard, or as part of a two-coat system. Also, it can be applied by hand or with a mechanical tool, which adds to its appeal. Another reason for its widespread popularity is its quality, as it does a great job and provides you with a smooth surface on which you can apply various decorative finishes.

Carlite plaster

Just like with thistle plaster, carlite is also a finish coat that is usually used on top of a background. Also, carlite plaster is versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, after which you can then add decorative finishes.

However, the main difference between carlite and thistle is the setting time with the former taking about three hours to set while the latter is much faster and takes just about half the time to set. Thus, thistle is generally more popular, but carlite is also pretty decent when it comes to durability. So, carlite is scratch resistant and typically has a strong impact.

Hardwall plaster

Hardwall plaster is an undercoat plaster that is most commonly used with masonry backgrounds like bricks and medium-density blocks. Just like the other undercoat plasters we’ve spoken about, hardwall is an ideal base to work with; more so, its easy application is one of the reasons it is so popular. That said, it is advised that you use hardwall on structures in good condition as a poor or crumbling wall could cause the plaster to crack.

Dri-coat plaster

Dri-coat plaster is a little different from the others as it is used for re-plastering after installation of a new damp-proof course (DPC.) Also, dri-coat plaster prevents the movement of hygroscopic salts from the background to the surface. This is an essential function as hygroscopic salts tend to absorb atmospheric moisture, which can lead to damp walls. Therefore, dri-coat plaster helps to protect walls and keep them in pristine condition.

That said, dri-coat isn’t recommended on frozen backgrounds as this affects its efficiency. Similarly, it does precious little to reduce the spread the effect of fire, and for this reason, it is advised that you ensure that the plaster isn’t exposed to extreme temperatures.

One Coat plaster

Unlike the other plasters discussed in this article that fall broadly within the category or undercoat, or finish plasters, one coat plasters are something of a swiss army knife. This means that it can act as both an undercoat and a finish. Therefore, it is a very popular plaster variant as it contains fewer steps and is incredibly easy to use. More so, consisting of the traditional gypsum material, one coat plaster possesses a thicker consistency, which enables it to work with thicker layers than other variants.

Additionally, it is easy to apply and can be done by hand or with the help of mechanical tools. Moreover, one coat plaster saves a lot of time as it doesn’t require a scratch coat or any other step before use. Lastly, one coat is usually used for repair jobs as it is a lot easier to get a smooth finish over smaller areas.

Tough coat plaster

It is an undercoat plaster which, as the name implies, is very tough and can take on conditions that other types of plaster just can’t handle. For example, it provides some protection from fire, and while it isn’t advised to use it on frozen walls, it can still do a decent job. On top of that, it possesses strong impact resistance and is a great base for masonry backgrounds.

Six Ways Of Modern Plaster Walls

Have you found yourself staring at walls of late? We know we have. That’s because plaster in its many transfixing guises is making a big comeback. Interiors finished with plaster have a depth and luminosity that shifts with the light, quietly transforming the look and feel of a house. And there’s no paint required: Left in its raw state, plaster is an environmentally sound natural material—breathable, and free of chemicals and VOCs.

True, plaster walls are more expensive than painted drywall; that’s because they’re more labor intensive to install (most require at least three coats). But they’re also typically longer lasting and more beautiful. For interior applications, here are six main categories to consider illustrated by some of our favorite projects of late. Check out our plaster painting Melbourne here. 

N.B.: Before taking the plaster plunge in your own home, look into substrate requirements; all plasters need to bond to a surface and that varies by type and brand—as does the durability and waterproofness of the particular plaster. Troweling skills are required and patience: You have to wait for each layer to dry.

Clay Plaster

Composed of clay, sand, and pigments, clay plaster is considered so healthy, it’s often used by people with chemical sensitivities. It comes in powdered form in a range of earthy shades and has very matte, often rough, finishes. Though not to be used in wet zones, such as bathrooms and kitchens, clay plaster has moisture-absorbing (and desorbing) abilities that make it a humidity regulator elsewhere in the house. To apply, mix with water on-site (achieving the right consistency takes some trial and error) and apply to a sanded, primed surface in four or five layers.

Slaked Lime Plaster

This is what the plaster walls in your great grandparents’ house were made of. Starting with wood lath, a coarse “scratch coat” (plaster mixed with shrinkage-preventing aggregates, such as horse hair) was applied followed by a “brown coat” (plaster mixed with sand), and finally a fine skim coat. Composed of limestone that has been baked at extreme temperatures to remove all impurities, hydrated—or slaked—lime plaster comes in an aged putty form, so, unlike other options, you don’t have to hand-mix it and you’re not under a time constraint to apply it.

Pure white in its basic form, it now comes in a huge range of colors. Left unpainted, like clay plaster, it takes in moisture and releases it—and unlike clay plaster can be used in kitchens and baths (but shouldn’t be exposed directly to water). If desired, a protective layer of bee’s wax or Marseilles soap can be added.

Gypsum Plaster

More humble and finicky than slaked lime, gypsum plaster comes in powdered form: Mix with water and then work fast; once activated, gypsum plaster typically needs to be applied in 35 to 40 minutes. (Stop midway and you get weaknesses known as “cold joints” and have to start over.) It’s also a bit less expensive than lime plaster and requires fewer coats. And it can be tinted to great effect.

Gypsum plaster is the go-to for hands-on designer/remodelers Percy Bright and Tara Mangini of Jersey Ice Cream Co., members of the Remodelista Architect-Designer Directory who always create memorable plaster surfaces in their projects. And it&#8

Above: Gypsum plaster is the go-to for hands-on designer/remodelers Percy Bright and Tara Mangini of Jersey Ice Cream Co., members of the Remodelista Architect-Designer Directory who always create memorable plaster surfaces in their projects. And it’s viable in the kitchen—as long as it’s not exposed to high humidity. Shown here, JICC’s Kitchen Makeover for Food Blogger Skye McAlpine.

Venetian Plaster

When pigment is added to aged slaked lime plaster, it’s known as Venetian plaster (not to be confused with any paints that use that name). Sprinkle in marble dust and you get a high level of polish and sheen.

An age-old and highly durable Moroccan finish, tadelakt is composed of lime plaster and black soap made from olives. When the ingredients are combined, a chemical reaction between the two creates a waterproof membrane, making tadelakt walls the most suitable of all plasters for use in showers and baths and even as sinks and tubs—it’s synonymous with Moroccan hammans. Read all about it in our Remodeling 101 post.

Tadelakt

An age-old and highly durable Moroccan finish, tadelakt is composed of lime plaster and black soap made from olives. When the ingredients are combined, a chemical reaction between the two creates a waterproof membrane, making tadelakt walls the most suitable of all plasters for use in showers and baths and even as sinks and tubs—it’s synonymous with Moroccan hammans. Read all about it in our Remodeling 101 post.

Neo Plaster

A lot of companies are coming up with their own easy-to-apply plaster wall finishes. These often contain acrylics and other ingredients that speed the process and don’t require as many coats.

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