Drywall or Plaster is one of the first and most important decisions you make for your home.

Nothing adds more to the look and feel of your home than the material you choose for the interior walls. The good news is that there are really only two major options which are drywall and plaster.

What is drywall?

Drywall is made of gypsum that is mixed with water. This mixture is then pressed flat between large sheets of paper. Once dried, it is usually cut up to medium-sized individual panels.

Usually, these panels are installed by lifting them into place by hand. The installation is also assisted by drywall stilts or a panel hoist when dealing with high ceilings. The panels are then screwed directly to the wall studs by using a screw gun.

Installing drywall is a fairly quick and simple process. Three layers of joint compound are applied after the wall is smoothed with a drywall sander. Finishing touches such as paint and primer are applied after the third layer is sanded. This simple and easy process has lead drywall to be the most popular material choice for interior walls for most modern houses built after 1950.

There are several varieties of drywall available that are resistant to damaging forces like, water, mold, and fire. This has also boosted drywall’s popularity.

What is plaster?

For a long time, plaster was the only material available to cover interior walls. Modern plaster is made up of gypsum. First, thin slats made of metal or plasterboard called laths are secured to the wall studs. The laths allow the plaster to hold on to something while it dries. The plaster is then applied and left to dry in three coats. The texture is usually added by scratching designs into the first coat before it dries.

What are the advantages of Plaster?

Plaster has a lot of great qualities that make it a great material to cover walls. Many beautiful older homes have plaster treatment and it can last for centuries. It is naturally harder and creates a more durable surface than drywall. The harder texture allows for better soundproofing and is considered a more high-end finish.

What are some of the disadvantages of plaster?

The harder texture of plaster makes it difficult to hang items on the wall. Labor is much more expensive because plaster is much more difficult to install. Plaster projects also take a longer time to complete which equates to more man hours.

The difficulty of the plaster application also does not make this something that should be handled by DIY ninjas. This is definitely a job that should almost always be handled by a professional. Plaster is also more difficult and expensive to maintain.

What are the advantages of drywall?

Drywall is definitely much easier to install and repair. It can be installed quickly which can cut down on labor costs. The material is also known to provide better temperature insulation.

Drywall is also much easier to handle as a do it yourself project with some practice. It is easier to hang wall treatments and other items on drywall when compared to plaster. There are also more drywall options, including sheetrock, which is a brand of drywall. Sites like drythewall.com can give you a lot of great information through tutorials and great tool suggestions.

What are some disadvantages of drywall?

Drywall is not a very flexible material so not the greatest to cover walls that curve. There are also not as many textured finishes available when compared to plaster. It is not as hard or durable as plaster and probably not recommended when restoring older historic homes.

How do you know whether drywall or plaster is better for your home?

In order to understand which material is better suited to your particular housing needs, it is a good idea to ask a series of questions.

What is the age of your home?

If your home was built 1950 or later than drywall is a great option. If you are trying to restore an older vintage home, the plaster will be more in keeping with the style of the time.

Are you dealing with a lot of high or curved walls?

If your walls are curved or unusually high than plaster is a better alternative. If the walls are standard 90 degrees drywall will be much easier.

Are you doing most of the work yourself or plan to hire professionals?

If you want to do the job yourself than drywall is the way to go. As we stated before, plaster applications are complex and are best handled by a professional.

What is your budget?

Drywall is definitely the more affordable option for those operating with tight budgets. Plaster is more difficult to apply and is much more labor-intensive, resulting in greater manhour costs.


No matter what material you choose for your interior walls, nothing is more important than choosing the right contractor. This is a process that can be very intimidating, particularly for women. Luckily, Contractors from Hell has an educational boot camp that can help save you thousands of dollar. These boot camps can make you confident in your decisions and give you the negotiating power to find the best contractor for the job.

-This is a guest post not written by the site’s owner.