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Types of plasterboard

Houses built in the UK before about the 1950's rarely used plasterboard on the walls, instead stud partitioning was covered with lath and plaster, or walls built of solid brick or block and covered with plaster. Since the 1950's, plasterboard on stud partitioning has become more popular (except, obviously, for load bearing walls). The use of such partitions has made it easier for diy'ers to change the layout by removing or repositioning the partitions.

Plasterboard is sometimes referred to as wallboard or drywall.

There are various types of plasterboard.

  • Plasterboard is the 'common' type used to line stud partitioning, ceilings and used in dry lining. Simply a layer of hardened plaster sandwiched between two layers of paper.
  • Insulated board is a bit more than just plasterboard, it comes with a layer of insulating foam attached to the rear side to improve the thermal insulation of the room.
  • Damp proof board has a damp proof membrane attached to the rear side, usually coloured silver and looking like kitchen foil.
  • Moisture resistant board is slightly different in that the actual plaster is resistant to moisture ingress and should be used in bathrooms, showers, kitchens and other damp areas where it is likely to come into contact with (although not immersed in) water.
  • Sound insulation board is constructed to reduce the transmission of noise.
  • Fire resistant board offers increased resistant to fire - by the nature of plasterboard, the standard type offers some degree of fire barrier but fire resistant board has an enhanced barrier effect.

Most types of plasterboard are also available as:

  • Tapered board - this is the most common and the easiest to use. As the name suggests, each board is tapered at each edge so when two pieces are butted together the joint can be more easily concealed using scrim and joint compound.
  • Untapered board has square edges and this makes it hard to achieve a hidden seam.

Most types of board are available in 9.5 or 12.5mm (3/8 or 1/2 inch) thicknesses, the thicker size is most often used and has increased rigidity. The usual sheet size is 0.9 or 1.2 m (3 or 4 ft) wide and length vary from 1.8 to 3.6 m (6 to 12 ft) long but other sizes may be available - often just cut down sheets.

Most plasterboards come with a white paper face and the other side a grey, thicker paper face. The white paper side is the front and will accept plastering and other finishes - the grey side is not suitable for any finish.

With modern techniques of dry lining, the front face is often not skimmed with plaster. While wallpaper can be applied directly to the front surface, it can be a problem if you want to remove the wallpaper later for redecoration. Before wallpapering directly onto the plasterboard, it is best to apply a couple of coats of dry wall primer (it is painted on), this makes it easier to stripper the wallpaper later.