Thursday, January 30, 2014

Plaster or Drywall, which should you choose?


(e.g. For historic accuracy choose plaster instead of drywall when replacing walls in 1930′s vintage home).
Drywall guys will tell you they can match any texture, but drywall is still very different from plaster. Before you dive into hanging drywall in a vintage or high-end home, consider the alternative of plaster.

Plaster vs Drywall

These days you have two general options when it comes to finishing walls: the first is standard drywall, which we’re all pretty familiar with. It’s everywhere, and so is the dust from installing, sanding and finishing it. Drywall consists of gypsum sheets (sheetrock) screwed or nailed to the studs. Drywall compound and tape are applied to the seams between boards, and the compound is also coated over the fasteners to cover up the heads. A high-end level 5 drywall finish includes a final skim coat similar to a plaster job, but most drywall jobs aren’t done at that level. Even when they are, the finish durability is still underwhelming when compared to cement-like plaster.

Modern plaster, on the other hand, is typically applied over a special type of wall board referred to as blue board. 
The old style was usually applied over lath, but that method is exceedingly rare these days. 
Blue board looks like Sheetrock (other than the color), but it’s designed to handle the high degree of moisture in wet plaster, and it’s engineered to create a tight bond with the plaster compound. 
The plaster is applied over the blue board either in multiple coats with a scratch and then finish coat (a more traditional style), or in a single or double veneer coat. 
Either way, the plaster covers the entire wall surface. 
Don’t confuse blue board with green board, (green board is typically for bathroom and not made for plaster).

Many people consider plaster finishes to be more high-end than drywall, and they have seen a surge in popularity.
I think mainly because of the unique expertise required
(There is on average 1000 Drywall installers to every plasterer).
Plaster projects tend to cost a bit more but are worth the investment.