The world of construction has gone through many changes through the millenniums. The history of drywall has it’s beginnings from over 100 years ago. We have used plaster walls for thousands of years and when drywall came around, it was not a popular choice. But why do we use drywall today? During and after WWII, the use of this newer product started to take hold in the United States.
The history of drywall has it’s beginnings in Plaster. Plaster has been the go to product used in home for thousands of years. The Egyptians used plaster. They made it by burning Gypsum in open air fires to produce the plaster. Plaster has been found at archeological sites of the Greeks, Romans, and throughout the middle east. It was used not only for their homes, but for major buildings, sculptures, and pyramids.
In the 1700s, a French chemist, Antoine Lavoiser, analyzed Gypsum and this knowledge led to the wholesale use of plaster through the company Plaster of Paris. In the early 20th century it was still industry standard for both residential and commercial construction. This all started to change with the arrival of WWII and the years to come.
The change from plaster to drywall was a slow one. Despite lack of popularity with civilians, drywall had been used for temporary military buildings during WWI. It later became the popular choice for the U.S. military after a barracks fire took the lives of several servicemen. This is due to Gypsum’s natural fire resistance. Still, civilians did not want drywall in their homes because they saw it as a substandard building material.
Created in the early 1900s, Drywall came from it’s grandfather, Sackett Board (Plaster of Paris put between layers of paper). In 1916 USG (United States Gypsum Corporation) bought the Sackett Plaster Board Company and continued to be further developed over the years before the war.
As men were shipped off to Europe during WWII, manufacturing focused on wartime products. With the shortage of workers and the need for cheaper building materials to offset wartime costs a change needed to happen. This is when we turned towards the use of drywall, then known as sheetrock. To focus money and manufacturing for the wartime effort, civilians started using drywall in new construction.
Following the war came The Housing Act of 1949 and a return by the people to the pursuit of the American Dream. After WWIII, people were moving to the suburbs; drywall was used to build these homes. By the mid 1950s, about 50% of homes had been built with drywall. This number continued to rise with the baby boom through the 60s.
At the same time, drywall continued to improve. The change from plaster to drywall was well on its way. It was tested and developed to be more fire resistant; installing and finishing became even easier. This further development meant drywall was used by itself, rather than along with plaster as it was when it first was being used. It eventually became the industry standard for commercial and residential buildings.
In the history of drywall, many things have changed. Today, drywall has evolved into a great building option for construction. It is an easy process with many options to fit a building’s needs. There are many types of drywall, from mold resistant to high abuse and in all sorts of thicknesses. Homeowners can install and finish themselves, but drywall contractors can get the job done faster because of their expertise. With the combination of good insulation, it also has great energy efficiency, unlike plaster walls.
Today, drywall is screwed directly to studs and finished using a combination of joint tape and layers of drywall mud, which smooths out the surface and to hide the joints. There are also many size options to buy, on top of that, drywall can be cut-to-size. Compared to Plaster labor today, drywall costs three times less and takes about one tenth of the time to finish. Plaster takes so long because of the thicker layers of plaster needed for the whole wall, and each layer must be completely dry before adding more on top.
Today, plaster is still used for certain remodeling and construction projects today. For older homes, or even officially historic buildings repairing plaster is an option that people usually go with. Also, plaster is used commercially for places that have high moisture exposure, such as stairwells. Or if a residential or commercial building is being built with higher end materials, plaster is usually the go to product. But for normal building and remodeling drywall is still the most cost effective option.
The history of drywall has it’s beginning with plaster. The change from plaster to drywall happened for many reasons. Homes have become more fire resistant, energy efficient, and cost effective. This makes home remodeling, be it through a improvement company or DIY an opportunity that most homeowners can do to make their houses homes.
Shakespeare Home Improvement has a great team of drywall contractors that we work with that get any projects that require drywall work done in no time. They properly finish and prepare the walls so that once painted, you will have smooth, beautiful walls for your home. Contact us today for any of your home remodeling needs.