Also referred to as wallboard, or plasterboard, gypsum board or drywall as it is commonly known today, was invented in the early 1900’s. Gypsum board developed from an earlier product known as Sackett Board, for which Augustine Sackett received the patent in 1894.
Later, due to improvements unfolding in the manufacturing process, the board was made stronger. A search for efficiency grew over the following years, to replace the lath and plaster techniques of the day. This led gypsum board to take on the moniker of drywall as it gradually worked its way into the market as a ‘dry’ alternative to the ‘lath’. Without a doubt, manually nailing the countless lath strips on for backing and then following with three successive wet plaster coats was a serious driver behind the success of drywall, combined with the mounting need to bring in fire-resistance. The level of plastering skills would no longer be required. The standardized sheets were modular, and, drywall could be installed and finished in a fraction of the time of lath and plaster.
To produce drywall, gypsum rock is mined and crushed. It is next heated to remove much of the naturally occuring water, and then mixed with additives and hydrated. The slurry of gypsum is then placed in a drying chamber within paper bound layers.
An important quality of gyspum wallboard is that it can be recovered and recycled. Efforts to reclaim drywall from done away with structures and from construction waste debris, have proven effective. The material is delivered in bulk loads at major construction material procession centers or, ideally, arrives from deposit containers namely for drywall, such as the system developed by Gruk – Gypsum Recyling UK.
The reclaimed material is sorted by hand and by automation methods to remove the unwanted contamination, metal and scrap paper. The gypsum is extracted and either combined with new gypsum for making recycled drywall at a participating manufacturer. Else shipped off for argricultural purposes.
Around the years 2006 and 2007, during a bottleneck in U.S. building demand, concurrent with the damage incurred by Hurricane Katrina, thousands of homes were built with drywall imported from Chinese sources. Serious consequent health effects have been reported, along with odor, high amounts of sulfur, and metal corrosion, chiefly in the states of Florida and Louisiana. As a result, lawsuits have been filed. Remedial efforts involve not only the toxic drywall but electrical, plumbing and other materials of the home or structure as well.
Notably, little or no oversight was given to the imported drywall material, while there is the claim that United States suppliers simply could not meet the increased demand and/or with the element of cost determining the procurement of the imported drywall. Altogether, what has been brought to light is whether the building industry should consider imposing codes and regulations on drywall, which up to this point, has been in all practical terms, non-existent.