What is drywall? Drywall, also known as gypsum board, or most popularly, plasterboard, is a construction material used to line interior walls and ceilings in both residential and commercial structures.
It plays a critical role in construction techniques that span from simple home renovations to extensive commercial projects.
In this blog, we will unravel everything you need to know about gypsum panel – from its manufacture to its application.
The Basics of Drywall
At its core, drywall consists of a mineral gypsum plaster core encased between heavy paper or fibreglass mats.
Gypsum, a natural mineral also known as calcium sulfate, is available in a crystalline form.
Manufacturers mix finely ground gypsum crystal with water and various additives to create a paste, which they then spread between paper or mat facings to produce drywall panels.
Advantages of Drywall over Traditional Plaster
In contrast to traditional plaster and lath techniques, which involve applying wet plaster over a metal lath, drywall construction offers several advantages.
It is quicker and easier to install, requiring fewer specialised tools.
For many amateur home carpenters, installing drywall is a project that is more accessible than a traditional plaster wall. Additionally, drywall is generally more cost-effective and offers a smoother, more uniform appearance.
Types of Gypsum Drywall
Various types of drywall materials are designed to meet specific needs.
- Fire-resistant panels, for example, contain additional fibres and other fire-resistant materials.
- Moisture-resistant or mold-resistant drywall is ideal for bathrooms or other humid areas.
- Soundproof drywall uses damping polymers to reduce sound transmission, while people commonly use regular drywall throughout the entire house.
We stock the following gypsum board products:
- Soundproof Plasterboard
- Moisture Resistant Plasterboard
- Fire Rated Plasterboard
- Tapered Edge Plasterboard
- Knauf Plasterboard
- Gyproc Plasterboard
- Siniat Plasterboard
The Manufacturing Process
Manufacturers start drywall production by heating raw gypsum to remove water, producing a powder. They then add water to this powder, forming a gypsum plaster core that can be slightly rehydrated.
Manufacturers often incorporate recycled materials, such as crushed drywall and paper-based facings, making modern gypsum boards lighter and more sustainable.
Installation of Drywall Material
Drywall sheets come in thick panels, typically measuring 0.5 inches in thickness and 4 by 8 feet in size. Professional and amateur home carpenters alike appreciate the ease with which they can install drywall.
The installation process involves cutting the panels to size, attaching them to wall studs or ceiling joists using drywall screws or other drywall fasteners, and sealing the joints between panels with a joint compound, commonly referred to as drywall mud.
Finishing Touches: From Mudding to Painting
After installing drywall, workers conceal the seams between drywall sheets using a joint compound.
This ‘mudding’ process may involve several coats and sanding to achieve a smooth surface.
After mudding, a final skim coat of veneer plaster can be applied for a polished look.
Finally, the drywall is ready for priming and painting, allowing for the installation of light switches, outlets, and other fixtures.
Problematic Drywall: The Issue of Chinese Drywall
In recent years, concerns have arisen regarding Chinese drywall. This type of drywall has been associated with metal corrosion and other issues due to an oil-based additive used in its production.
Today’s drywall manufacturing processes often involve the use of recycled materials, including crushed drywall remnants and heavy paper facings from recycled sources.
This not only reduces waste but also decreases the demand for raw gypsum.
The Gypsum Association, a major gypsum company, continues to promote these sustainable practices.
Health and Safety Measures
Generally, drywall is safe, but you should take precautions when cutting or sanding it to avoid inhaling the produced dust.
Manufacturers design some drywall panels for health and safety, offering fire-resistant and mould-resistant options that resist moisture and lower fire risk.
Other Names for Drywall Gypsum Panels
- Buster boards
- Sheet rock
- Gypsum boards
Drywall has established itself as a key construction material, favoured for its ease of use, cost-effectiveness, and versatility.
From the gypsum mines to your living room wall, drywall is a product that meets the demands of modern construction without losing sight of environmental sustainability and safety.
Whether you are a professional contractor or one of the many amateur home carpenters, understanding the complexities of drywall offers an appreciation for this ubiquitous material that literally shapes our indoor worlds.