Drywall - Types of drywall and finishing techniques

Drywall, sometimes called gypsum board, a name taken from its main component, often simply referred to as Sheetrock, the company brand name of one of drywalls largest manufactures was invented and first used in 1916 as a means of replacing labor intensive lath and plaster finishing techniques for interior walls. The strong but yet light weight material provided an attractive solution to builders attempting to cut costs during the housing boom that followed World War II. Although drywall prices have risen significantly over the last few years it is still cost effective.


A typical piece of drywall consists of gypsum sandwiched between sheets of paper impregnated with a water resistant chemical and is 4 ft wide by 8 ft long but is also available in other lengths. Although not nearly as strong as the lath and plaster finishing method that it replaced, drywall provides an ideal alternative. Drywall cost is very attractive, as it is cheaper than a plaster wall, less susceptible to cracking from house settling, and much, much quicker to install and is plenty strong for its intended purpose.


Drywall can be cut to size using an ordinary contractor’s razor knife and then attached using either ring-shank nails or specialty drywall screws. Corner metal, a thin piece of material with the shape of angle iron is then attached to protect drywalls fragile edges from accidental impacts on outside corners. Some builders have opted for modern technologies replacement to corner metal – plastic. Plastic corner bead comes in a few variations that include a nail on type and a type that is attached using spray adhesive and is also available in “bull nose” or rounded design that provides a more decorative finish.


Painting drywall and texturing drywall are no more labor intensive or expensive than painting or texturing a plaster wall.