How to Tell If Wall is Concrete or Drywall?

In the quest to build a dream home, the selection of wall material is crucial—however, there are different wall materials to choose from. Concrete and drywall are two prevalent construction wall materials widely used. 

Therefore, they’re occasionally interchanged, confusing what constitutes both materials. Below are guides, eye-openers, and factors to tell if your home is concrete or drywall.

How to Tell If Wall is Concrete or Drywall? 

You can observe imperfections like cracks, roughness, paint peeling, and curves.  Traditionally, drywall sounded hollow when knocked. If one can hear a wall clearly from the outside, it is likely made of concrete. All the same, there are many others ways to know. 

After this, you’ll be able to tell one of the building materials from the other aside from knocking on the wall to know if it is made of drywall or concrete. 

And here are ways to determine whether wall is concrete or drywall:

  • Wall Drilling 

The screen that passes through solid material is concrete; one that stops in a hollow area is drywall. In addition, specific differences between working with drywall and concrete must be considered when hanging artwork, home decor designing, or making repairs. Because of this, it’s crucial to be aware of the type of walls. Knowing if the walls are concrete is necessary to be cautious about the drilling length.

  • Figure out how old your house is

Before World War II, concrete was the material of choice for walls. Although drywall was developed in 1916, it wasn’t widely used in homes until the 50s. After the 60s, it began to overtake concrete walls as the dominant wall covering. The concrete or drywall in your home may date back to this period. Knowing when you constructed your home, you can use this chart to determine what kind of walls you have.

  • Close Examination

If you look closely, concrete walls have that classic look of a bygone era. They allow for more creative freedom when forming arcs and curves, lending an air of sophistication to any space they adorn.  Drywall, meanwhile, is more understated in appearance. When you want straight walls, this material is ideal. Understanding your home’s age is the most hands-off approach to pinpointing a wall’s type. 

  • Take Off a Cover Plate

Take off the cover of a wall outlet or light switch with a screwdriver. Pulling off the protective plastic cover reveals a cross-section of the wall material where the controller or socket was installed.  A drywall wall will have a paper on both sides of the white, flaky gypsum. Like taking off a cover plate from a light switch at home, check the switch hole’s sides to ensure they’re clean. If more illumination is required, pull out a flashlight. 

  • Paper Layer Approach

Two layers of paper sandwich a powdery gypsum core, making drywall unique. Layers of solid plaster, rather than paper, will be used if it’s drywall. Also, there may be thin strips of wood hiding below the wallpaper.

Concrete walls do not have a secondary paper layer on either side of the wall. Concrete over wood laths will provide for an excellent structure. If you look closely with a flashlight, you might make out plaster keys where the first coat of concrete flowed between the laths.

  • Peel or Crack In paint

Check out on your walls is another pointer between the two materials. Paint that has chipped or cracked can be seen from a distance. Looking at these issues, you can tell if your walls are concrete or drywall. Cracks in drywall are uncommon; they are associated with concrete and tend to symbolize damage when they occur. Look for them anywhere that joint compound is used to fill gaps or seal seams.

  • A fissure in the wall

Cracks in concrete walls can radiate outward like a spider web. In addition, you may notice paint peeling. Oil paints are commonly characterized when concrete is the medium of choice.  Furthermore, the application of latex paint without first priming can cause peeling. The color may flake off your wall, and probably due to this, proving that your wall is made of concrete.

  • Push pin Test

Some people use a pushpin test to identify the type of wall. Smack a pushpin into the wall using the pad of your thumb. Drywall can be placed by how readily you can insert a pin into it. But when the approach is impossible. You’re dealing with concrete. Drywalls are softer than plaster so that a pushpin can pierce them. However, if you try to hammer a thumbtack into a lath and concrete wall, it won’t budge.

Nails have trouble penetrating concrete walls because the laths bend when a blow of wind hits them. When hammering a nail into plaster, the hole may be slightly more significant than the nail.

  • Pushpin Vs. Knocking

Lacking a pushpin, you may resort to knocking—constant knocking give an idea about the wall. When knocking on drywall, the sound will be hollow until you approach a stud, at which point the sound will become more substantial. The sound of your knocks against concrete will be uniformly thick.

  • Check out what’s going on in the corner of the room

Remove a cover plate or unplug an outlet to inspect the wall’s thickness. You can see a section through a plaster wall on the left. Plastering over paper will result in multiple layers of plaster. Keys are the names given to the bits of application that seeped out from between the laths. On the right, you can see white gypsum sandwiched between two sheets of paper. In contrast to plaster, which leaves its wiring exposed, drywall has an electric box to protect its wiring from the elements.

  • Get down into the cellar or the attic

Unfinished basements and attics are common approaches. You can now tell whether your walls are made of concrete or drywall, as the rear of the wall will be visible. Concrete walls are easily identified by their presence of concrete keys, exposed wiring, and an abundance of uniformly sized wood strips. Concrete is applied over laths, which have been nailed into studs.

What Are Concrete and Drywall?

Knowing the main difference between materials and how they stack up against one another in terms of appearance, price, maintenance, and other factors will give the foundable between the two materials.

  • Drywalls

Drywalls are made from manufactured boards such as plasterboard, gypsum board, buster board, custard board, gypsum pane, and so on. This type of wall is commonly used indoors, although it has also been seen in some outdoor applications. 

  • Concrete

In contrast to drywall, concrete walls are built entirely out of concrete blocks. The mortar used to bind the blocks together makes the structure damp, not dry like the drywall.  Also, drywalls can be installed when thoroughly dried—joining them with nails or a tucker instead of wet mortar.

Properties made of Concrete And Drywall

Drywall is an artificial board made of gypsum with paper layers on both sides. Drywall is distinguished by its paper faces and backs, with white gypsum. Drywall has a consistent thickness because of how it’s made. Drywall thickness typically ranges from 1/4-3/4. However, 3/8-1/2 are more common in residential construction. Thin pieces of wood (laths) are nailed over the wall studs to create plaster walls. 

Concrete, on the other hand, is applied in thin layers over the slats until the desired smoothness is achieved. Concrete is more robust and has a more variable thickness than drywall. Before drywall became widely accepted, concrete walls were the norm. Laths, thin planks, are nailed over the studs with a slight gap between them. After the slats have been laid, a concrete coating is applied, sometimes as thick as an inch. 

Similarities between Drywall and Concrete

When you critically examine drywall and concrete, there is little similarity between them. We can now go on to a discussion of the distinctions between the two terms.

Differences Between Drywall and Concrete

Below is a detailed explanation of how concrete and drywall differ in various heading.

  • Making

Drywall is made from several materials, including gypsum, paper, fiberglass, and other fibers. Concrete is a mixture of portland cement, water, and other particles. 

  • Usage and installation

The convenience of their use and the type of care given to each in their on-site preparation is a significant disparity. Drywall is easy to install since you can buy the panels you need, cut them to size, and then screw or nail them to the surface underneath.

Concrete requires you to make your mixture and pour it into a form or framework you construct. Another option is ready-mixed concrete delivered in a truck after being mixed at a factory. However, drywall is far less challenging to work with.

  • Capacity, longevity, and the ability to support the weight

Concrete’s strength allows it to withstand pressures of up to 4,000 pounds (PSI). It’s dense, sturdy, and can support significant weight because it’s built to last.  None of these descriptions apply to drywall. Drywall is so weak that it may snap in two with a single punch.

  • Intense Resistance to Rain and Other Elements

Due to its high resistance to moisture and weather, concrete is frequently used outdoor.  Drywall, on the other hand, is not suitable for usage outside since it is not water resistant.

  • Immunity to Mold and Pests

Drywall is prone to insect infestation and mold resistance, making it less challenging than concrete.

  • Immunity to Flames

The fire resistance of some varieties of drywall is not comparable to that of concrete. Concrete hardly seldom catches fire.

  • Appearance and painting ease

Drywall is mainly considered wall and ceiling coverings due to its superior appearance and ease with paint, while concrete may not be cozy as drywall in terms of curb appeal.

Which Is Better: Concrete or Drywall for Walls?

There’s no point in removing the concrete and lath and replacing it with drywall or vice versa. If the walls serve their purpose and you like how they look. You can keep them going.  However, you can easily maintain plaster walls with regular maintenance and painting.

But if you’re doing some remodeling that involves moving walls about or knocking them down, drywall makes the new building far simpler to finish than concrete.

Should I replace My Wall?

Are your concrete walls still in good shape? You don’t need to be replaced them. But when building a new home, you can use drywall instead of plaster to save time and money, especially when remodeling an older home. Because:

  • Concrete walls are a multi-step operation, 
  • Drywall may be cut and installed by a beginner. 
  • Drywall is used over plaster because it can withstand fire and is easier to install. 
  • Concrete walls take a long time to build, while drywall can be put up in a day.

Therefore, the concrete wall calls for numerous coats of plaster application once the laths and furring strips have been nailed into place. For this reason, drywall is preferable for brand-new buildings and remodels.

Can Drywall Be Placed Under Concrete?

Although it is theoretically feasible to pour concrete over drywall, this is rarely put into practice with the fear it might not perform as expected.

However, if a moisture barrier exists, you can install drywall sheets directly onto concrete.

Which Should You Use, Concrete or Drywall?

Drywall is the material of choice when building walls because it satisfies many criteria. It is inexpensive, looks well, and can be painted relatively quickly. However, concrete must be used to ensure the wall can support the weight. Tall structures, home bases, patios, driveways, fence posts, and just about anything else may be constructed with concrete.

Meanwhile, it’s a matter of choice. Understanding your need for aesthetic appearance, budget, home features, and other benefits will make you decide which one among the two walls will give you confidence and is suitable for your home and appeal.

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