Differences between Plaster and Drywall
Plaster is a much older style of wall construction than drywall. The chief differences between the two have to do with their use today, installation and expense. Drywall is a more common building choice than plaster walls are. It is easier to install drywall, as it requires nails and tape whereas plastering is more time consuming and regarded as a craft form. Drywall installation is not as labor-intensive as plastering. This means that putting up drywall is not as expensive as plaster walls. Plaster walls have a much durable finish than drywall when it sets up and is a higher quality finish.
Plaster compounds can be purchased pre-mixed or as a dry compound that is prepared with water. Applying plaster is not a simple do-it-yourself project. It involves knowledge in the application technique, which is a skill that a tradesman acquires over years of experience. A more modern version involves veneer plaster. Veneer plaster is drywall-like gypsum panels that go up like sheet rock drywall panels. They are finished with a multiple-coat veneer plaster that looks like traditional plaster.
Drywall typically comes wall size boards made of sheetrock. The thickness of the boards determines the ease of use and level of sound proofing. Sheetrock comes in thicknesses of 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch. 5/8-inch sheetrock adds strength to the wall and deadens sound. 1/2-inch sheetrock is less expensive than 5/8-inch drywall and is easier manipulated during installation. Most any level of installer can use sheetrock, from professionals to do-it-yourselfers. Sheetrock is cut to length, placed and nailed or screwed into position. A sheetrock hanger is a handy tool that acts as an easel for the drywall board. It has a lever that lifts the sheetrock into place and holds it while the fasteners (i.e. nails or screws) are placed. Professional installers prefer drywall screws to nails. Nails tend to pop out over time, displaying little bumps along the seam where taped and mudded. Drywall screws hold better and remain in place, even after the wall settles.
Drywall is generally less expensive than plaster applications. This includes a factoring for labor and set up costs associated with applying plaster as oppose to nailing drywall into place. The veneer plaster solutions offer a competitive middle ground for individuals who want a plaster finish without the messy application process that comes with traditional plaster. For most areas in a home, a simple drywall solution is both sensible and cost effective.