Difference between Drywall and Plaster
By Andrew Parker - April 21, 2023

Plaster and drywall are two of the most frequent interior wall materials. Plaster has been utilized since antiquity, and the very first ones were often composed of lime, sand, animal hair, and water. However, drywall became more durable and widely available as technology evolved. By the 1950s, drywall had become a popular interior wall material. The product is currently used to cover the majority of the interior walls in modern residences.

Chart Summary
  1. Installation is cheap and easy
Installation is long and costly
  1. Prone to water damage and mold
Prone to buckling and breaking
Man working on drywall

Getty images/Moment/ Jasmin Merdan


Plaster walls are typically constructed in three coats. To begin, fasten the lath to the frame. Traditionally, lath was formed of wood strips, but more recently, metal or plasterboard has been used. The lath provides a surface for the sticky plaster to adhere to. Create a plaster compound once the lath has been installed. The chemical is often delivered dry and must be blended with water.

The plaster can then be put on the wall. First, a coat of plaster is applied, scraped, and allowed to dry. The second coat, or brown coat, is used next, and the wall is completed with a final coating.
The core ingredient for bare gypsum drywall is calcined gypsum combined with water and occasionally additives. The fluid mixture is squashed or flattened between two layers of paper before drying. The face side of the paper is sturdy and smooth, but the back side has a coarser texture.

Plaster vs. Drywall

A plaster wall is thicker than a drywall wall due to the number of coatings and lathing, which can offer a better air barrier. This thickness also serves as an effective sound barrier between rooms. Plaster can make a wall far more robust, reducing the probability of buckling or breaking. Plaster is suitable for curved or uneven surfaces since it is not solid when put on the wall. Finally, the gypsum in the plaster has high water content, giving the walls fire resistance.
However, Plastering is a labor-intensive technique, which raises the price. Plastering takes time to apply as well as time to dry. Furthermore, while the plaster is generally durable, it can break due to building shifting or faulty installation.

Drywall can be destroyed by building settlement or by a homeowner’s negligence. Nail or screw pops are typical issues when the head of these fasteners develops a bulge or becomes apparent through the drywall. Second, if exposed to high quantities of moisture for an extended time, gypsum drywall is prone to water damage. In addition to water sensitivity, gypsum drywall boards can be moldy. New gypsum drywall boards are becoming paperless to reduce the possibility of mold.