Plasterboard Alternative: 14 Options
A lot of houses today use plasterboard (also known as drywall) for their interior walls. It’s cheap and relatively easy to work with (compared to other mediums), but it does come with its own series of challenges. Add in the clouds of dust from sanding it down, and it’s not exactly the most fun thing to work with. Add in that it doesn’t really stand up well to moisture and that’s it’s rather fragile, and you can see why some people are looking for a good alternative to plasterboard.
If you’re considering home renovations, some good plasterboard alternatives include wood, plastic, plywood, and brick or masonry, among others.
There are a lot of alternatives to drywall, each with its own pros and cons, so stay tuned!
14 Great Plasterboard Alternatives
Let’s start with some more… out of the box alternatives, and we can move our way into the more boring, everyday stuff like wood or plastic. First up, we have concrete blocking.
1. Concrete Blocking
This is great in more modern-looking homes, though it’s really up to the individual on whether or not you like it. While I’m personally a fan of the look, it does come with its downsides. Perhaps the biggest one is that concrete gets cold – so if you live in a cold area, you’ll need quite a few rugs to stay cosy. On the plus side, concrete is great for noise reduction, so while cold, at least you’ll be in peaceful quiet!
2. Cement Board
On a similar note, cement boards are panels of cement and cellulose fibres. They’re not light, but they’re moisture-resistant, so they’re great for really damp environments. It also is slightly less of a pain to install than straight-up cement blocks – though you’ll need help to carry it. If you like the look of cement, but want a slightly more modern alternative to plasterboard, this is a great choice.
3. Brick and Masonry
Okay, brick and masonry are about as classic as it can get, and there’s no way in hell that you’ll find me ever talking bad about them. I absolutely love the look, especially as my hometown is completely covered in beautiful rosy masonry and brickwork. And the best part about both stone and brick is that you can paint it if you want, but it looks great bare! While it’s an expensive alternative in comparison to some of the others on the list, it’ll last a lifetime and is sustainable.
4. Lath with Woodchip Clay
If you’re looking for a good alternative for noise reduction, lath and woodchip clay is a great choice. It’s a combination of a lath frame with wood chips and clay. It’s also nice because it’s a bit sturdier than traditional plaster and lathe, making it a decent alternative to plasterboard.
5. Fibreglass Reinforced Panels
While I’m not a huge fan of the look of fibreglass reinforced panelling, it’s very flexible, durable, and even scratch-resistant! It’s made from polyester resin reinforced with fibreglass, and is resistant to mould, bacteria, and a few other nasties that nobody wants in their home.
6. Fibreglass Mat Gypsum Panels
This is (at least in my mind) “plasterboard plus.” It’s noncombustible, mould resistant, and drastically more durable than your normal plasterboard. The nice bonus to these is that they still look like plasterboard once finished, so you can have the same look as painted plasterboard, but with more structural integrity.
7. Wahoo Walls
Wahoo walls are great for basements, though they’re not really designed to be used elsewhere. They’re heavy and offer decent insulation (its R-value is rated at R-13 by the US Department of Energy). Additionally, they don’t support the growth of mould, as they’re waterproof. The one major downside to them (in my eyes) is that they’re synthetic, made with an expanded polystyrene core. I personally prefer more renewable alternatives, but it’s a good alternative to plasterboard.
8. Veneer Plaster
Veneer plaster is smoother and harder than drywall, making it objectively “better” than standard plasterboard. However, it’s harder to install properly, as it takes a good bit of trowel work to get it put in. It’s also really nice for older homes, as you don’t technically need to rip out the walls to install veneer. Depending on what you used for your walls, you could potentially apply veneer plaster to the top with the use of a bonding agent.
Its one major downside is the cost, as it’s quite a bit more expensive than your everyday plasterboard.
9. Textured Wall Panels
This is great for a relatively cheap modern look for your home. They’re 3D textured panels (usually with some cool geometric design) that you’ve likely seen in places like bars and hotels that are trying to seem more “with it.” Textured wall panels are also rather easy to install, so that’s an added bonus.
10. Lath and Plaster
Lath and plaster is a decent old-school alternative to plasterboard. It was, at one point, a very common medium for walls, though that dropped off with the rise of drywall. It’s nice, because you can relatively easily install insulation (assuming you plan to beforehand), and it’s a decent look once finished.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a long process to install. Add in that it’s relatively uncommon, making it less likely to find a pro willing to do it (though your milage may vary), and it’s not the best choice for your money… at least in my eyes. At the end of the day, though, it’s a great alternative, you just have to be prepared to take some time to properly do it.
First things first – I do not recommend completely replacing your walls with pegboard. Sure, you could do it, but it’s not exactly the best idea. It is, however, great for places that need a bit of extra storage, like a garage or office. It’s also surprisingly easy to install, so that’s a nice bonus – all you need to do is screw it into the studs in your wall.
On the other hand, it doesn’t really look great. And it’s not really easy to decorate in a way that would make it truly appealing. It’s good for places like a garage that most guests won’t see, but I wouldn’t make it your entertainment room’s go-to. (Although now that I think of it, pegboard would be nice for both cable management and displaying cool trinkets…)
This is the next best thing to drywall if you’re looking for bang for your buck. It’s extremely affordable and very easy to work with. Basically all you need to know to install plywood walls is how to use an electric drill. And if it doesn’t look good enough, you can always sand it down and give it a few coats of paint.
On the downside, plasterboard is fire-resistant, while plywood is not. Plasterboard is also easier to make look like it belongs in a home, while plywood tends to be hard to make look truly good. It all comes down to how much you want to spend, at the end of the day, but this is a good, cheap plasterboard alternative.
13. Plastic Panelling
This is great for places where appearance is important, alongside ease of installation. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, though it’s also not wildly expensive. Add in that plastic panelling is mould resistant and easy to install, and you’ve got yourself a great alternative to plasterboard. Generally all that’s needed to install plastic panelling is a few screws and a wall to attach them to, so that’s nice!
14. Wood Panelling
Behind masonry or exposed brick, wood panelling is my favourite look for new walls. They’re great if you enjoy a more rustic look for your home, and exposed wood is just so pretty! It’s also relatively easy to install wood panelling with some screws, and they offer a much wider variety of options in comparison to the other options here.
The main downsides, however, are the wood’s susceptibility to moisture and heat. They won’t do well in extremely hot or wet climates and don’t really go well with an otherwise modern home. At the end of the day, though, it’s all up to what you feel fits best in your home.
There are a lot of great alternatives to plasterboard for your walls. While plasterboard is a very common, cheap, and generally easy to decorate medium, there are a lot of better options out there. If you’re looking for a modern home, you can go with plastic panelling for a cheap alternative, or even do exposed concrete if you’re into that.
Alternatively, you can go my favourite route, and opt for masonry and exposed brick, or even wood panelling. You ultimately have more options than are necessary, so it all comes down to personal taste and budget. Now get building!