How to Know If It’s Drywall or Plaster

Unless something goes wrong or you’re not in the process of renovating, it’s pretty easy to ignore your walls. Of course, they are an integral part of the structure and layout of your home, but they play more of a supporting role.

But when it comes to various home improvement projects, like hanging a picture or removing wallpaper, it’s important to know what material your wall is made of. If you can’t tell if it’s brick or wood just by looking at it, then it’s probably either drywall or stucco. But what? Here’s how to find out.

Differences between drywall and plaster

Let’s start with the fact that drywall and plaster are made from different materials . Drywall consists of gypsum plaster pressed between two thick sheets of paper. It comes in lightweight, ready-to-install sheets. Gypsum walls are made by nailing wooden planks to wall studs and then coating them with a mixture of water and gypsum, cement, or powdered lime.

Gypsum walls are much harder and denser than plasterboard walls. Gypsum walls are more soundproof, while drywall provides better thermal insulation. Stucco is also more expensive and time-consuming to install than drywall.

How to determine if your walls are drywall or plaster

Don’t know what your walls are? Here are some ways to say:

When your house was built

Gypsum walls appeared earlier than drywall. Although drywall was first introduced in 1916, it didn’t become popular until around 1940. If your home was built before 1940 and hasn’t undergone major structural changes since then, there’s a good chance your walls are made of plaster.

If your home was built between the 1970s and now, your walls are probably drywall. Houses built in the 1950s and 1960s are a toss-up.

Check it out with a pin

Press the thumbtack into an inconspicuous spot on the wall with your thumb. If it goes in easily and doesn’t crack, it’s drywall. Otherwise, it’s probably plaster.

Knock on the wall

Lightly tap on the wall. If it sounds and feels empty, you’re banging on drywall. If it doesn’t make much of a sound, but seems firmer and harder, it’s probably plaster.


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