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Types of plasterboard

Before the 1950's houses built in the UK rarely used plasterboard, instead lath and plaster or just plaster was the tradition. Plasterboard has become the standard covering for stud partitioning and ceilings, this has made it easier for diy'ers to cover these. Plasterboard is also used to line internal masonry walls, the sheets are simply attached to the masonry by using dab of adhesive - such wall linings are referred to as dry-lining.

There are a number of types of plasterboard, each with it's own characteristics which makes it most suited to particular uses.

  • Plasterboard is the 'common' type and is used to line ceilings, stud partitioning and is also used in dry lining. It is made up of a layer of hardened gypsum plaster between two layers of paper.
  • Insulated board is similar to common plasterboard but incorporates a layer of insulating foam to the rear side to improve its thermal insulation.
  • Damp proof board is similar to common plasterboard but incorporates a damp proof membrane on the rear face, usually a coloured silver foil.
  • Moisture resistant board is different as the actual gypsum plaster is resistant to moisture and is recommended for use in areas where it could come into contact with water (although not immersed in it) - i.e. bathrooms, showers, kitchens etc.
  • Sound insulation board is composed to reduce the transmission of noise.
  • Fire resistant board offers increased resistant to fire - the other types of plasterboard do offer some degree of fire barrier but fire resistant board much better resistance.

Most types of plasterboard are available as either:

  • Untapered board which has square edges. This makes it hard to achieve a hidden seam unless the surface is skimmed with plaster.
    OR
  • Tapered board which tapers in thickness toward the edges. This is the more common styles and, in most cases, is easier to use providing that the taper on two pieces butt together, the joint can then be concealed by using scrim and joint compound to fill the depression resulting from the tapers.

Most types of plasterboard are comes in 9.5 or 12.5mm (3/8 or 1/2 inch) thickness, the thicker size has increased rigidity and is most often used. The usual sizes of sheet are 0.9 or 1.2 m (3 or 4 ft) wide with the length varying between 1.8 and 3.6 m (6 to 12 ft) however other sizes may be available - often just cut down sheets, but this can result in edges not having the taper.

Most plasterboards has a white paper finish on one side with the other side being a grey, thicker paper. The white paper side is the front (i.e. the finished side for decorating) and will accept a plaster skim or other finishes - the grey side is not suitable for any type of finish.

When used in modern dry lining techniques, the front face is often not given a plaster skim. Wallpaper can be applied directly to the front surface, but this will cause a problem when the wallpaper needs to be removed for redecoration. So before wallpapering directly onto new plasterboard, apply a couple of coats of dry wall primer (it is painted on), this will make it easier to strip the wallpaper when that becomes necessary.