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Drywall VS Plaster

Drywall being smoothed downThe plaster-versus-drywall debate has been doing the rounds for as long as there’s been drywall to complicate the issue. Both options have their own benefits and downfalls. At Alpine Insulation, we’ve got plenty of experience with both, so we know the pros and cons. Plaster is the time-tested, highly decorative option that dampens sound, while drywall occupies the ready-to-go market. Which should you choose? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Drywall Made Of

Drywall is a gypsum panel that’s extruded between facer sheets and can often be referred to as gypsum board, sheetrock, wallboard or cement board. It’s softer than plaster, so it’s less prone to cracks, but the absence of density doesn’t do much for its R-value.

The R Value of Drywall

Drywall has a rating of around R-0.5 per half-inch, so if you’re looking for a solid, soundproof insulator, this isn’t it. That doesn’t detract from drywall’s convenience, though. Drywall does allow for easier installation of traditional wall insulation through a drill-and-fill method that is quicker and cheaper than other installation methods. Composite walls can be erected in less than a day at a price of about $1 a square foot. They require very little maintenance and prevent sound from carrying through your home.

What is Plaster Made Of

Plaster is a time-honored material that’s been in use since the late 1700s. Made of cement, sand, water & minerals, it is famous for its ornamental properties and moldings and is one of the most influential materials in the architectural world. It’s lasted as long as it has for excellent reasons. It’s a solid, attractive solution that’s thick enough to tolerate plenty of aesthetic maintenance.

The R Value of Plaster

As an insulator, plaster has roughly twice the R-value of drywall and a sound transmission class rating that’s 52% higher than gypsum. While this doesn’t replace traditional insulation, plaster also excels at air sealing which is important to the comfort of homes. If it’s outdoor noise you want to dampen, this is your go-to material. Plaster has one more magical quality: It self-heals hairline cracks. Sags are easy to repair without requiring replacement, and if you’re one for refreshing your color palette, it’ll take as many coatings as you can throw at it.

Why Do People Use Drywall?

With all of plaster’s benefits laid out, you might be wondering why people use drywall at all. This option didn’t become as popular as it is without reason. It’s remarkably quick to erect, it’s extremely flame-resistant, and it retains warmth during those chilly winter evenings. If you’re using it to create interior rooms, its lack of insulation shouldn’t affect you. Drywall is a quick way to create new rooms without heavy financial investment, so it’s perfect for breaking an open plan area into smaller living rooms.

Drywall can be easily cut to any size to make the  installation of doors, windows or outlets a breeze. Drywall is secured using specialized fasteners, or a combination of nails and screws.

When to Use Drywall

Drywall’s benefits will come into play if:

  • You’re looking for a fast option that doesn’t need to be installed in several stages
  • You don’t mind gaps
  • You hate the empty, echoey effect of plaster and want to reduce your indoor sound carriage
  • You’re outfitting a retail store that will require frequent redesigns
  • You’re willing to perform regular, routine maintenance

When to Use Plaster

Plaster is your go-to material if:

  • You have children or pets and require additional longevity of your walls
  • You need to install trowel finishes and bull-nose effects
  • Fire safety is an issue
  • You want to incorporate decorative or handmade finishes that achieve an old-world effect
  • You’re averse to maintenance

Drywall has been a U.S. favorite since the 1950s. It’s a lasting product that can be erected in only a few hours. That makes it an excellent option for interior walls. In contrast, plaster is harder and less flimsy, so it’s just the thing for your exterior. Elaborate plasterwork can revolutionize your home’s aesthetics, but drywall can revolutionize your time. Let Alpine Insulation help you to create a strategy that suits your unique needs. As a leading insulation company, we have the insider’s knowledge required to help you to find just the right wall. Call us for a consultation at (866) 261-1090.

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Alpine Insulation is proud to be a leading installer of rigid foam insulation.

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