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The Interesting Evolution of Drywall: From Plaster to Modern Solutions

Your home’s walls hold your favorite family photos, beautiful artwork from the kids, framed celebrations and so much more. Although your walls are structurally and aesthetically integral to your home, you might not consider how they came to be. But the history and evolution of drywall is an interesting one! In our newest article, Bill’s Drywall experts explore the history of drywall, starting with ancient plasters and ending with the modern advancements that make your drywall versatile and strong.

The Exciting History of Your Drywall, from Ancient Times to Today

5000 – 1500 BCE: Ancient builders mixed mud and straw with lime or gypsum, creating an early form of plaster applied to walls and ceilings. This plaster insulated homes and kept the elements out, but it was messy and required much time and energy to install.

16th Century: Lime and horsehair plaster became widespread in Europe. This plaster used water, animal hair, lime and an aggregate to create a solid, hard-drying paste. Wooden laths – thin wooden slats – were stacked horizontally on each other, creating a thin wall for the plaster to adhere to. The plaster used during this time required three layers, taking many days and weeks to set and harden fully.

19th Century: “Horsehair and lime” plaster was still widely used, but builders began experimenting. Installing horsehair and lime plaster took a lot of energy and time, and because it was very wet and susceptible to moisture, it wasn’t ideal for wet or humid environments. Builders began using other types of plasters, including those that used gypsum.

1916: The United States Gypsum Company (USG) introduced “Sheetrock,” the first modern gypsum wallboard, marking the beginning of drywall as we know it. This solution was cheaper, easier and faster to install, suitable for damp environments and much more effective. Interestingly, many experts suspect the development and use of drywall in 1916 came about in response to World War I, which took away much of the traditional building workforce!

1930s: Drywall became increasingly widespread. Drywall in this period consisted of burlap or felt front-facing materials to cover the gypsum or drywall board interior/core. 

1950s: Paper-faced drywall replaced earlier versions, further improving the strength and durability of drywall. Paper-faced drywall was smoother, allowing for a more straightforward application and aesthetically appealing appearance.

1960s – 1970s: Moisture-resistant and fire-resistant drywall variants were developed following several disasters to ensure consumers’ safety. Moisture-resistant drywall has a solid core coated in a waxy film that keeps the interior board dry. In contrast, fire-resistant drywall contains chemically mixed water that slowly releases into fire-preventing steam when exposed to fire. These advancements ensure the safety and well-being of millions of homeowners yearly.

1980s: Advances in technology led to the creation of mold-resistant drywall. These ways work similarly to moisture-resistant drywall. Mold-resistant walls became crucial as concerns about indoor air quality and moisture-related issues increased with the advent of environmental health.

2000s – Present: Innovations in drywall technology have given us soundproofing drywall, impact-resistant drywall and eco-friendly alternatives. Advancements in drywall creation and installation improve performance, safety and sustainability.

Get Your Free Estimate Today for Your Drywall Project

Your drywall makes your space, providing a blank canvas to display your favorite achievements, family memories and more. It’s important to invest in high-quality, professional drywall installation. Fortunately, Bill’s Drywall has provided professional, friendly drywall services for Chicagoland residents since 1976. Request your free estimate from Bill’s Drywall experts today!

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