One of the structures in the home that we all take for granted is the interior, mostly notably the wall surface. We just look at the walls and think painting, wallpaper or wainscotting. There are few homeowners that even remember a time when drywall never graced the walls of homes.

The plastered wall was the mainstay of interior structures for many thousands of years. Before the 1800's the wall surfaces were covered with a lime plaster, a sort of interior stucco as the composition was similar. This was the main material in a process known as lath and plaster. Laths were wooden strips attached horizontally to the studs to hold the plaster in place. The first or “brown” coat was a sandy mixture that was squeezed between the laths to form “handles” or “keys” that, when hardened, held the following two coats to the wall. Although the final coat was a smooth, hard surface plastering was a time-consuming process and the wall took weeks to fully cure. This meant that the home had to sit empty before painting.

During the Second World War homes had to be constructed quickly for the huge numbers of people moving into industrial areas to work in the factories and for military housing. A formerly-shunned product called “sheetrock,” or gypsum board, was brought in as a filler product because the demand was too much for plasterers to keep up with. After the war the ease of sheetrock installation carried over and builders began to look at drywall as a product that could help with the pots-war housing boom.

Plastering a home took two weeks of work by a dedicated and highly-trained plastering crew. Then came the wait for painting. Sheetrock, on the other hand, cost less and could be installed by a crew that did not need as much training. While plastering was an art there isn't as much time needed to train people how to drywall. However, it still takes a good eye to be a good drywall contractor.

Modern drywall has evolved from the early days of sheetrock. The process of manufacturing is similar but the fillers have changed. Today drywall is still made with a thick paper filled with a gypsum plaster material. The raw gypsum is flash-heated and then mixed with fibers and other chemicals that keep it stable until the sheet is dried. The panels are made in the standard four-foot by sight-foot sheet but the lengths can go up to twelve feet.

Drywall contractors have many tools at their disposal to make the job go quickly. A drywall lift allows the sheets to be raised into position so that installers just have to screw them down. This is a necessity when doing high walls and roofs.

Drywall taping is another trade entirely. Many drywall companies have tapers on staff but many of the personnel are either tapers or sheet installers. Tapers, or “mudders,” use drywall compound, or joint filling compound, to finish off the wall. The seams and indentations from the screwheads are filled with the compound. For seams and corners a paper tape is applied that is soaked with the compound and allowed to dry. Professional tapers will use a taping banjo, a metal applicator that accepts a large spool of tape. A light drywall compound is placed in the applicator and the tape is rolled through this mixture and onto the wall for an evenly-mudded section of tape. After this dries more compound is applied and, when this is dry, it is sanded smoothly. For doing high places and ceilings drywall tapers will use special dry wall stilts so that they are constantly climbing stepladders.

The time it takes to drywall an entire home and have it ready for the painters is less than four days. Compare this with two weeks for a plaster team plus the curing time and you can see why drywalling replaced the expensive plaster-and lath walls.

However, plastering is not a dead art and many homeowners want a plastered wall. In this case a veneer plastering method is used whereby a gypsum board called “blueboard” is used, a drywall panel that absorbs some of the moisture allowing the plaster to dry quicker. The result is a smooth wall just like the old pastered walls. In addition plaster is still used for ornamental work and moldings and for work on drywall that requires texture like knock-down.

When a home is being built a building contractor will put out the walls for tender to various subtrades and drywall contractors bid on the project based on the blueprints. In some cases the installation company and the taping company may be different. For home owners wanting a room addition or a renovation the drywaller will give his or her estimate base don the square footage. For information on drywall contractors in your area go through out Contractor Directory or simply post your project on our easy-to-use site and contractors will contact you.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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