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Drywall Through the Ages: How Has the Profession Changed?

Drywall Through the Ages: How Has the Profession Changed?

Thank goodness for drywall. It has saved many homes and played a major role in the construction of houses and commercial buildings. As the years have gone by, there have been significant improvements to the drywalling industry, many of which you may not be aware of. Read on to learn about drywall through the ages and how the profession has changed.

Before Drywall

Before there was drywall, there was plaster. In its heyday, plaster worked just fine, but it had its fair share of problems too. Plaster dates back to the years of the Ancient Egyptians when they were building pyramids. They burnt gypsum to produce and create plaster.

Gypsum is a soft white or gray mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulfate. People mainly use the mined mineral as fertilizer, plaster, blackboard, sidewalk chalk, and of course, drywall. Since plaster dates back so far, you can find it in many examples of ancient architecture. If you live in a town with historical landmark buildings, chances are contractors utilized plaster in the process.

Eventually, by the 19th century, workers relied on plaster for residential properties and gravitated toward commercial properties in the 20th century. Because of its popularity and durability, most homes during this period consist of plaster.

The Beginning of Drywall

In 1910, United States Gypsum Corporation bought the Sackett Plaster Board Company, and by 1917, introduced Sheetrock. Drywall consists of plaster mixed with fiber, either paper or glass wood. Instead of using plaster and lath to build housing, drywall came on the scene as a time and labor-saving instrument for home construction.

Drywall installation is more efficient than plaster and offers fire resistance. The safety of homes and commercial properties increased immensely with this new development. Installing drywall became even easier once air entrainment technology came around, making boards lighter and less brittle.

Most drywall panels in the U.S. are 48, 54, and 94 inches wide, but the length can vary to ensure it’s suitable for the application. However, for most homes, there is a common length and width, 16 or 8 feet long and 48 inches wide. You’ll want the thickness of the sheets to be 1/2 and 5/8 inches (13 and 16 mm).

With these measurements, the installation process becomes easier because the sheets come primed and prepped for you. Your next focus will be on cutting and placing the sheets to perfection.

Benefits of Drywall

As previously stated, drywall comes prepped and primed for you, but there are several other benefits to drywall that make it preferable to plaster.


Drywall is cheap, and when it comes to home projects, prices can rack up. Not having to worry about the cost of the drywall makes things a lot easier on your wallet.

Because it arrives ready for installation, you don’t have to worry about the price of prepping. You can focus instead on the tools and materials necessary for the application, and most of those are cheap as well, making the entire process welcoming.

Extra Protection

Drywall comes with an added layer of protection between the interior of your home and the exterior. Because of this extra protection, drywall helps to keep the heat and air inside your home longer.

Drywall inside of rooms also decreases sound exposure. An apartment building with good drywall installation ensures that residents never need to listen to their neighbors.

Easily Repairable

The tools you need to repair and install the drywall are cost-effective, and the process is straightforward. And while drywall is not indestructible, as it will go through some wear and tear, it’s not difficult to repair.

All you need is some spackle, a putty knife, and sandpaper to repair any damages. Bigger issues might require the replacement of the entire board, but even replacement won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Evolution of Drywall Tools

As the process of building residential and commercial properties evolved, so too did the tools and materials. The implementation of drywall introduced a lot of tools necessary for the installation process, but there was always room for improvement. Things like drywall mixers and even taping knives have changed over time.

For example, the automatic tool taper did not come around until 1939, but since then, the tool has seen some significant improvements. Manufacturers designed the taping tool to get the drywaller’s job done in half the time. Most professionals have this item in their toolbox to make for a more efficient and faster workday.

At Timothy’s Toolbox, we know all about what supplies you need in your toolbox for drywall installation, so we make sure we have a good variety of quality options for you to choose from.

Different Drywall Techniques

When it came to plaster, it took a while to get a house up and running. Meanwhile, with drywall, you can have the majority of the house done in a day or two. Of course, this is only the case with experienced drywallers, but it’s a testament to drywall’s impact on the construction process.

Commercial properties are different, mainly because there is more square footage to work with. On jobs this size, it’s best to cut the tasks down the middle. You can have your hangers and your tapers work in unison to create a more effective workflow. The hangers focus on the installation process, and the tapers focus on joints and drywall compounds.

Each job requires precision, especially the hangers. You need exact measurements before you prepare yourself to place the sheets against the wall. During the process, you can utilize drywall tools like the T-square, drywall knife, utility knife, jab saw, and measuring tool to ensure that perfect fit. The second half of the job mainly requires the joint compound (mud) and an automatic taping tool.

New inventions like the tape banjo help to make this portion of the job run smoothly and efficiently. This is one kind of taping tool among many. You can have multiple with you on a job site for safekeeping. If troubles arise, you don’t want to put a halt to the momentum, so remaining prepared is crucial.

We pride ourselves on knowing all things drywall when it comes to contract work. Understanding drywall through the ages and the changes in the profession will only make you a better contractor. At Timothy’s Toolbox, we have a wide range of knowledge on the topic and a variety of tools for you to choose from. For more information, visit our website.

Drywall Through the Ages: How Has the Profession Changed?

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Olivia Smart - October 18, 2022

Thank you for explaining how drywall techniques have changed. My son has been thinking about turning to drywall as a profession. It’s interesting to learn about its history and what kinds of things he might be learning.

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