For hundreds of years dating back to ancient times, interior walls were constructed from lathes – narrow strips of wood covered with lime-based plaster. These walls took many days or even weeks to construct, as well as many craftsmen with a high level of expertise. The resulting walls were thick, heavy and difficult to repair.
Drywall came onto the construction scene in 1916. Drywall is made from a gypsum-based plaster and paper. It is much lighter and easier to repair than plaster. It is also much easier and faster to install, and is fire-resistant. Drywall is manufactured in sheets, and can be nailed to wooden supports rather than requiring the support of multiple lathes as lime-based plaster does. Walls can be constructed with drywall in days instead of weeks.
In spite of all these advantages, it took almost a quarter-century for drywall to become a popular construction material. By the end of World War II, it had gained in popularity because of its lower cost and greater efficiency. Drywall is now the dominant material used in construction of interior walls.