Plasterboard: Types and Their Applications

Whether you’re renovating or building from the ground up, there’s a wide range of building materials on offer. One of the most prevalent materials in use today, both in residential dwellings or commercial buildings, is plasterboard. It is extensively applied in interior walls, for creating partitions and ceilings and as an inexpensive insulation solution. Different types of plasterboard are sold and are appropriate for different purposes and rooms. 

What is Plasterboard? 

Plasterboard is a relatively new building material when compared to traditional lath and plaster. It is a wall panel consisting of pressed calcium sulphate dihydrate, or more commonly known as gypsum, and paper backer and facer linings. Plasterboard is cheap to produce, easy to install, and with favourable properties that meet stringent UK Building Regulations.  

plasterboard

Plasterboard Uses 

The versatility of plasterboard makes it suitable for a range of building situations. It is extensively used in interiors, for constructing walls and ceilings, and also as an insulation layer, either as a standalone wall panel or in combination with thicker thermal boards. Individual panels can additionally be placed over cavity walls with timber frames or solid masonry walls for increased thermal insulation. With gypsum as the core material, plasterboard is inherently fire-proof, making it ideal in scenarios where added heat protection is needed. Plasterboard variants are also used in shielding walls from moisture and thicker panels are ideal for soundproofing. 

Materials are also handpicked for the finish they provide. Plasterboard allows for smooth finishes and ample coats of paint or wallpaper, meaning it’s easy to decorate. Boards come as either square edged – good for seamless joints, or tapered edged – used in corners and edges, and also for creative wall designs. Items are easily affixed on plasterboard walls and any damage is easily and quickly repaired. Compared to traditional brick or concrete interiors, it is flexible in that it adapts to changes in layout with the least cost and effort.

painting plasterboard
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Types of Plasterboard 

Varieties of plasterboard differ in where they’re used and the types of compounds added to the gypsum. The thickness of the gypsum and the strength of the paper lining is also a factor to consider. Each type features lining in different colours, making it easier for builders during installation.  

Fire-Resistant Plasterboard 

Safety is essential in all aspects of construction. Fire-resistant plasterboard, or simply fire board is one of the best building solutions to repel fires. It is installed in domestic dwellings along stairwells, wall partitions, in ceilings between floors, above garages and areas with high heat generation. In commercial buildings, this type of plasterboard is used to protect voids and shafts. Fire board needs to meet specified UK fire-safety regulations, with boards requiring to protect from fire for 30,60,90 or 120 minutes depending on the type and size of the property. Fire-resistant boards are usually 12.5 or 15mm thick and are pink in colour. 

Thermal Boards 

To keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter, builders use thermal insulated plasterboard. Installing these in your existing home or in new structures will significantly reduce your energy bills. Current building regulations require new properties to meet lower levels of heat loss, or what are known as U-values. Thermal boards provide some of the lowest U-values among different insulative materials currently sold. 

Consisting of two parts, a foam base and insulated plasterboard, thermal boards are widely used in sealing floors, walls and ceilings in residential and commercial properties. The type and thickness of the foam vary, while the bonded board is 12.5mm or 15mm thick. Total thickness ranges from 20mm to 150mm, so suitable boards are available for a variety of applications. The best thermal protection comes from PIR plasterboard. This type of insulating board consists of PIR or polyisocyanurate foam, with a compact rigid-cell structure making it far superior to other foam types. Thermal properties are increased with different liner materials, particularly metal-based foils.  

Builders can use thinner PIR plasterboard to achieve the same U-values found in other foam-based plasterboards. This is particularly useful where the available space is limited. In addition, thinner boards cost less, so you end up saving money. Another benefit is that PIR plasterboard provides high levels of moisture and acoustic insulation, also making it practical for other applications. Lastly, PIR is eco-friendly, meaning PIR plasterboard meets strict regulations regarding the use of sustainable materials. In terms of colours, ivory and ivory shades are the most common in thermal boards to distinguish them from standard and vapour-resistant plasterboard.  

Water-resistant Plasterboard 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

To achieve the best results in areas with high exposure to water, green water-resistant plasterboard is the way to go. Additives to the gypsum consist of water and liquid repelling compounds that sustain the rigidity of the boards in areas like bathrooms, kitchens and walls with piping. Other plasterboards are unsuitable in such places, and will crumble over time. 

Vapour-resistant Plasterboard 

Similar in design to water-resistant plasterboard, but with the benefit of additional metallised polyester facers, vapour-resistant plasterboards prevent the damaging effects of warm air and humidity in walls and ceilings. Vapour-resistant plasterboard is often seen with a white facer. 

Impact-resistant Plasterboard 

With thickness comparable to PIR plasterboard, impact-resistant plasterboard consists of a dense gypsum core often sprayed with wood particles, and with thicker outer linings. It is used in areas with high pedestrian movement, like offices, schools and hospitals. In homes, it is installed in halls, corridors and playrooms. Impact board is twice as resistant to dents and scratches resulting from high wear and tear. You’ll find this board coloured yellow.  

Acoustic Plasterboard 

To insulate areas from external noises and obtrusive sound, builders use sound or acoustic plasterboard. This has a mineral wool core in a dense layout with multiple layers of sound-absorbent outer lining. Boards can be used on their own or combined to deaden the loudest sounds. Studios, home theatre rooms and music schools are some of the places it is used. Acoustic board is recognisable by its blue colour.

Contoured Plasterboard 

Round finishes are possible with contoured plasterboard. This is applied in round walls, curved ceiling features, and insulating areas with complex shapes and irregularities. Contoured plasterboard is combined with other boards in creating visually effective designs.  

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