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How to tell the difference between dry wall and plaster?

How to tell the difference between dry wall and plaster?

Old 09-17-03, 02:22 AM
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How to tell the difference between dry wall and plaster?


I'd like to make some modifications to my ceiling but would first need to know whether it's drywall or plaster. If anybody can give me some tips on how to figure this out it would be appreciated.

I'll describe the ceiling just in case. It has tiny blobs of paint everywhere in chaotic and random fashion. I believe this is common in many households. It also has several cracks that appear to be chaulked up.

Old 09-17-03, 04:39 AM
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Would need more info in order to advise you on whether this is a drywall or plaster ceiling . If you have an attic acces above this area, that would be a place where you could find out. You will have to move some of the insulation out of the way to see what you've got, if it's plaster there will be thin narrow boards (called laths) nail to the ceiling joists which the plaster is applied to. The other thing would be the age of the home, plaster & lath hasn't been commonly used in new construction in like 40 years, so if this is a fairly new home the odds are you've got a drywall ceiling.

Hope that helps.
Old 09-17-03, 06:24 AM
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Yes the age of your house is the first big tip. Another way is to remove a switch plate and look around the box.
Old 09-17-03, 07:06 AM
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The two replies above are good advice. It is possible that you have gypusm plaster over gypsum lath. From above it would look the same as drywall except that the sheets of lath are only 16" wide not 48" wide. The plaster in either case will be about a half inch thick. You might also have veneer plaster or thincoat. Treat is as drywall for cutting purposes. It is like drywall except that it has a real plaster finish that is between 1/16" and 1/8" thick. This is more common in some parts of the country than others.
What kids of modifications are you making?
Old 09-17-03, 03:06 PM
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Thanks tightcoat, coop28, and awesomedell. I think it's drywall since this place was built in the 80's.

My modification is to soundproof the ceiling. I'm going to staple in a layer of "Mass Loaded Vinyl" and then screw in another layer of drywall over it. The end result will be 1" loss of ceiling space.

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