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Drywall Basics: Measuring, Prep and the Different Types (page 1 of 3)

Learn about they different types of drywall, how to determine how much you'll need and the best ways to prepare for the job.

Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Drywall has Gypsum Core and Paper Backing

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Drywall is the standard wall covering in the United States, covering three out of four interior walls in our homes. While it takes practice to properly finish drywall, it does not require many tools and is fairly straightforward. If you are planning to alter or build any walls in your home, you will need to know the basics of drywall.

Drywall Basics

Drywall is a specific type of sheeting material made of gypsum sandwiched between paper. Also referred to as wallboard, plasterboard, or gypsum board, drywall started to replace plaster as the typical interior wall finish in the United States more than 60 years ago. It is less expensive than plaster, and much easier to attach to stud walls. The panels are typically screwed to wall studs and the joints between panels are filled with joint compound, which is then finished to a flat surface.


  • If you have a home built before 1950, you may have plaster walls.

  • Plaster is heavy, and it needs a solid, well-anchored base made of strips of wood or metal wire, called a lath, to support its weight.

  • Over time plaster can dry out and lose its holding strength, or the lath beneath can pull away from the framing. If you see your plaster walls sag, you may need to repair them.

Plastering and Drywalling Options

Plastering a masonry wall
A traditional method for preparing a large area of wall, ready for decorating (Image 1).

Plastering a stud wall
A smooth finish over untapered board, achieved by plastering across the entire surface (Image 2).

Layers of compound fill the joint, which is then sanded to provide a smooth finish (Image 3).

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009