Angie's LIST Guide to
Drywall and Plaster

Many homes today have walls made of drywall. Learn drywall basics, drywall alternatives and get tips for maintaining and repairing drywall.


drywall installation and repair
Most interior walls in today's homes are made from drywall. A drywall contractor can help with installation and repairs.

What is drywall?

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 laths as lime-based plaster does. Walls are 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.

RELATED: Does Your Home Have Chinese Drywall?

Drywall alternatives

A variety of terms can be used to refer to drywall. Some of these are simply alternative terms for the same construction material. Others, however, refer to different materials or types of drywall. These terms include sheetrock, blueboard and wonderboard.

Sheetrock: Sheetrock is simply a trade name for a specific brand of drywall. It is the most common brand of drywall in the United States.

Blueboard: Blueboard is constructed with a special surface that allows plaster to be placed over it in a process called veneer plastering. Blueboard, unlike standard drywall, should not be painted until after the veneer of plaster has been applied.

Greenboard: Greenboard drywall has a water resistant covering that helps it resist moisture. It is used in bathrooms or basements, where moisture is common, but is not appropriate for interior shower walls as it is only water resistant, not waterproof.

Cement board: Cement board combines cement with reinforcing fibers to form a sheet about the same thickness as drywall but highly water resistant. It is used in showers and other areas where water exposure is common, and is usually covered with tile. Its strong resistance to water keeps it from breaking down in spite of the wet conditions.

Wonderboard: Wonderboard is a specific brand of cement board that is constructed with cement and glass mesh.

Drywall maintenance

Taking good care of your interior walls will help them last and keep your home sound for many years to come. One common mistake homeowners make with their interior walls involves hanging pictures or other decorations. Proper hanging technique prevents causing unnecessary damage to your drywall.

When hanging a picture, it is important to find the stud that supports the drywall. Otherwise, you will simply put the nail or picture hanger directly into the drywall. Drywall is not strong enough to support a heavy picture, so this is likely to cause damage to the wall.

Instead, find the studs in the wall and place the nails there. Studs are typically two-by-fours that are placed in the walls to support the drywall. They are sturdy and strong enough to support pictures or other decorations you might want to hang on your walls. A stud finder is a quick and easy way to find the studs in your walls. Alternately, you can locate the studs by tapping on the wall and listening to the different tone returned by unsupported and supported sections.

Repairing drywall

Cracks, holes or other damage in drywall are relatively easy to repair. The average homeowner can manage these repairs on his or her own if desired. Repairs usually involve a joint compound, drywall plaster and/or drywall tape, depending upon the size, location and nature of the damage. These repairs should be primed before painting over them, since patching materials are porous.

RELATED: What Tools Are Needed for Drywall Repair

Leave a Comment - 10


Madeline Morano

Subject: Drywall repair

I had a leak in my room which has since been repaired. The drywall inside has been damaged from leak and is need of repair/replacement. Assistance is required.


Subject: Food on ceiling

Hello. Two days ago, I was mixing food together in a blender to make a smoothie. I did not add enough water in the blender, so it ended up exploding all over the kitchen and on the ceiling. Wiping up the kitchen was simple. But by the time I was done with the floors and countertops, the stuff that was on the ceiling had dried up. I took a damp cloth (soaked in water) to wipe off the food spots, but it was difficult to take off, so I ended up rubbing the ceiling harder. Now I have spots where I've rubbed off a lot of the plaster and the water mark from the damp cloth hasn't dried up after a day. I still have several, more severe, spots to clean up but decided to stop before I cause more damage. Any advice?

Bill Weissman

Subject: Pool plastering

Does your company have reviews for pool replastering in the
San Fernando Valley in Los angeles?

Katie Jacewicz
Katie Jacewicz

Subject: Angie's List has pool plastering companies

Hi Bill, Katie J. from Angie's List here. Our list does include companies who specialize in pool plastering, but ratings and reviews of such companies are available exclusively to our members. Let me offer you a 20% discount, valid towards an annual membership. Sign-up online or give us a call at 1-888-888-LIST, and use promo code "ANSWERS." Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

Pauline Petersen

Subject: need repair of popcorn ceiling and small area on wall

weather damaged roof let snow under shingles, damaged interior popcorn textured ceiling and small area down on wall--needs repaired.

Myra Dean

Subject: Ceiling

Ceiling Has Cracks .Popcorn Ceiling needs to be redone.

robert gordon

Subject: ceiling repair and doors

need repair

Bill Ramirez

Subject: Exterior plaster repair

The plaster was replaced on the exterior of entire house approximately 4-5 years ago.I have several areas now on the exterior surface of my home that need to have the plaster repaired or replaced. The plaster is done in a spanish style texture.

Bill Henry

Subject: sealing plaster, blistering from a previous and fixed water leak

I had a roof leak that caused my paint to blister in the center of my living room. It looks like a simple repair but I can no longer walk or climb a ladder. I use a wheel chair.

Gary Thuillier

Subject: drywall definition

Your definition, though complete is not totally accurate. DRYWALL is actually the term for a process and not the material itself. Unless I overlooked it, l did not see the mention of WALLBOARD which covers the broad spectrum of gypsum panels. I would also like say that plaster, regardless of the type ( multi coat, horsehair, veneer etc.) is just as easily repaired as drywall.

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