Plasterboard is one of the most versatile construction materials. It can be used for interior walls, to create partitions in an open space, and even for creating custom wall units and fitted walls. However, before using plasterboard in your home, you might wonder if there are better alternatives out there.
A few materials that could replace plasterboard include wood wool boards, solid timber, and plywood. Concrete blocking, clay boards, bricks, and even fibreglass reinforced panels are other options.
If you don’t know what to pick, check out these plasterboard alternatives and find out when to use them.
1. Wood Wool Boards
In recent years, there has been a growing shift towards eco-friendly and sustainable building materials in the home improvement industry. One such material gaining popularity is wood wool board, a versatile and green alternative to traditional plasterboard.
These boards are made from long, slender wood shavings, bound together with a cementitious binder. The unique structure of the wood shavings creates a highly porous, yet strong and resilient board that is perfect for various interior and exterior applications.
Wood wool boards offer exceptional insulation, sound absorption, and moisture resistance. They are ideal for humid or damp environments, such as basements or bathrooms, where traditional plasterboard may be prone to mould or mildew.
Wood wool boards are also resistant to pests and are eco-friendly, with shavings sourced from sustainably managed forests. The porous structure of the panels also provides excellent thermal insulation, helping to reduce energy consumption and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without going over the top with your bills.
2. Fibre Cement Boards
Combining the strength of cement with the flexibility of cellulose fibres, fibre cement boards are an excellent plasterboard alternative. They offer an array of advantages that make them an excellent choice for both interior and exterior projects.
They are strong, lightweight, durable, and particularly suitable for wall and ceiling linings, cladding, and flooring, depending on their size and thickness.
Fibre cement boards are highly resistant to impact, wear, and tear, making them a long-lasting option for your outdoor projects. Their robust composition ensures they can withstand harsh environmental conditions and heavy use.
This material can be easily cut and installed using standard construction techniques, making it a convenient choice for DIY enthusiasts. Fibre cement boards can be finished with paint, tiles, or wallpaper to match your desired aesthetic.
3. Solid Timber
The charm and warmth of solid timber have made it a preferred building material for centuries. As a plasterboard alternative, solid timber offers not only aesthetic appeal but also a host of practical advantages.
Unlike engineered wood products, solid timber is not a composite material but a single, solid piece of wood. Available in various types, each with its unique characteristics, solid timber is a versatile building material that can be used in multiple applications, including wall linings, flooring, and structural elements.
Like other plasterboard alternatives, solid timber is easy to install and suitable for DIY projects. When sourced from responsibly managed forests, it is an eco-friendly option. This material is also known for its insulation properties, sound absorption, and durability.
With proper care and maintenance, solid timber can provide a lasting and environmentally friendly solution for homeowners seeking to add warmth, character, and a touch of nature to their living spaces.
Plywood is an engineered wood product made by glueing together multiple thin layers of wood veneer, known as plies. These layers are oriented at right angles to one another, which enhances the overall strength and stability of the material.
As a plasterboard alternative, plywood offers a unique combination of strength, flexibility, and affordability, making it an attractive option for those seeking a reliable and adaptable material for their projects – while compromising on aesthetic appeal.
Plywood is available in different thicknesses and grades, each suited to specific applications and requirements. Its versatile nature allows for a wide range of applications, from wall linings to flooring and cabinetry.
The cross-laminated structure of plywood provides exceptional strength and stability, making it ideal for various load-bearing applications. Its resistance to warping and twisting ensures consistent performance throughout its lifespan.
Another advantage of plywood is its cost. The material is generally more affordable than solid timber and other alternatives, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious homeowners.
5. Concrete Blocks
Concrete blocks, also known as concrete masonry units (CMUs) or cinder blocks, offer a range of practical advantages compared to plasterboard. Their composition, made of a mixture of cement, sand, water, and aggregates, resists weather elements as well as heavy-duty applications.
These blocks are available in various shapes, sizes, and densities, each tailored to specific requirements. They can be used for load-bearing walls, partition walls, and exterior cladding, to name just a few.
The thermal mass of concrete blocks also helps regulate indoor temperatures by absorbing and slowly releasing heat. This characteristic can reduce energy consumption for heating and cooling, contributing to a more energy-efficient home.
As a non-combustible material, concrete blocks also offer superior fire resistance than traditional plasterboard. They also provide design flexibility. While they are visually utilitarian in nature, concrete blocks can be finished in various ways to enhance their aesthetic appeal.
Options include painting, stucco, veneers, and even architectural concrete block designs that incorporate texture and colour.
6. Clay Boards
Clay boards, also known as clay plasterboards, are composite materials made from natural clay, wood fibres, and other organic binders. They offer the advantages of both traditional plaster and modern plasterboard systems, providing a lightweight, easy-to-install, and highly functional alternative.
The main advantage of this material is its breathability. It allows for efficient air exchange and moisture regulation within your living spaces. This feature helps create a healthier indoor environment by reducing the risk of mould and mildew growth.
The hygroscopic nature of clay boards also allows them to absorb excess humidity and release it when the air is dry. This characteristic helps maintain a balanced indoor humidity level, contributing to a comfortable and healthy home.
While clay boards may not be as impact-resistant as some other alternatives, they offer a reliable and long-lasting solution when properly installed and maintained. Their sound-absorbing properties make them ideal for use in bedrooms, home theatres, and other areas where noise reduction is essential.
7. Compressed Straw Panels
Compressed straw panels, also known as straw bale panels or straw board, are a building material made from compacted straw fibres, bound together with natural or synthetic adhesives. They are available in various thicknesses and sizes, providing a versatile solution for insulation and structural applications.
Their main advantage is the ease of use. These panels can be easily cut and installed using standard construction techniques, making them accessible to both DIY enthusiasts and professional contractors. They also can be finished with various materials, such as plaster, lime, or clay, to match your desired aesthetic.
Due to their structural properties, they are often used for wall linings, ceiling installations, and even as a load-bearing element in certain construction projects.
Another advantage is their sustainability. These panels are made from a renewable and abundant agricultural by-product, making them an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plasterboard.
Hempcrete is a bio-composite material made by combining hemp hurds (the woody core of the hemp plant) with a lime-based binder.
The resulting mixture forms a lightweight, insulating, and breathable material that can be used in various applications, such as wall linings, insulation, and even structural components. Hempcrete is typically cast or sprayed onto a support structure, such as wooden or metal framing, to create a solid wall or insulating layer.
Hempcrete has numerous advantages, but the main one is undoubtedly its low maintenance. The material is resistant to common issues affecting other building materials, such as rot, mould, and decay.
The material is also naturally fire-resistant and, thanks to its density and structure, it effectively reduces sounds. It is an ideal choice for creating eco-friendly, quiet, and healthy living spaces.
9. Rammed Earth
Rammed earth, an ancient building technique, offers a range of benefits, such as thermal mass, durability, and low environmental impact. Its natural composition and timeless appeal make rammed earth an attractive alternative to plasterboard.
This technique involves compressing a mixture of natural materials, such as earth, clay, sand, and sometimes a small amount of cement or lime, into a dense and solid wall. The mixture is layered into a temporary formwork and then compacted using manual or mechanical tampers.
Once the desired thickness is achieved, the formwork is removed, revealing a solid, load-bearing wall with a distinctive layered appearance.
This rustic technique works best in cottages and country homes. The natural colour variations create a visually striking and organic aesthetic that can complement a range of architectural styles.
10. Oriented Strand Board
Oriented strand boards (OSB) have emerged as an attractive option and versatile alternative to plasterboard. This engineered wood product offers a range of practical advantages, including strength, durability, and affordability.
These boards are manufactured by compressing and bonding layers of wood strands with adhesives under high heat and pressure.
The result is a strong and rigid panel that can be used as a structural sheathing material, subfloor, or wall lining. OSB panels can be easily cut and installed using standard construction techniques, and they can be finished with a variety of materials, such as paint, wallpaper, or cladding.
While not completely waterproof, OSB panels are more moisture-resistant than traditional plasterboard, making them more suitable for use in areas with higher humidity or potential exposure to moisture.
Bricks are a masonry building material made from clay or shale, which is moulded, dried, and heat-treated at high temperatures to create a strong and durable block. They have been used in construction for thousands of years due to their strength, availability, and relatively low production cost.
Since they are available in various colours, sizes, and finishes, bricks can accommodate a wide range of applications and design preferences.
Thanks to their exceptional strength and durability, bricks are suitable to use for load-bearing walls and other structural applications. Their longevity ensures that your projects will stand the test of time.
The classic appearance of bricks adds a timeless and distinctive appeal to any home. The wide variety of shades, textures, and finishes available also allows homeowners to create a unique and personalised look for their living spaces.
Another advantage is that bricks can be made from locally-sourced materials, sustaining the local economy and reducing the environmental impact.
12. Fibreglass Reinforced Panels
For homeowners in search of a durable and moisture-resistant alternative to traditional plasterboard, fibreglass reinforced panels offer a practical and versatile solution. They are composite materials made by embedding fibreglass strands within a thermosetting resin, creating a strong and rigid panel.
Available in various thicknesses, sizes, and finishes, fibreglass reinforced panels are often used for wall linings, ceiling installations, and partition systems. Their resistance to water, impact, and staining make these panels an attractive option for areas that require added durability and low maintenance.
Their exceptional durability also makes them suitable for high-traffic areas and environments where impacts or abrasions are common.
They are also highly resistant to water and moisture, making them an ideal choice for use in areas with high humidity or potential exposure to water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. The non-porous nature of these panels inhibits mould and mildew growth, creating a healthier indoor environment and reducing the need for maintenance.
13. Lath and Wood Chip Clay
Lath and wood chip clay is a construction method that involves applying a mixture of clay, water, and wood chips onto a lath (a framework of thin, narrow strips of wood) attached to the wall or ceiling framing.
The clay mixture binds to the lath and dries, forming a solid and breathable surface that can be finished with natural plasters or left exposed for a rustic appearance. Since this traditional building method combines natural materials, it creates a highly adaptable, insulating, and moisture-regulating surface for walls and ceilings.
The main advantage of the lath and wood chip clay method is the improved indoor air quality. These systems are highly breathable, preventing the build-up of condensation and reducing the risk of mould and mildew.
Another advantage is the compatibility with natural finishes. Lath and wood chip clay surfaces can be finished with natural plasters, such as lime or clay-based products, for added durability and aesthetic appeal.
14. Veneer Plaster
Veneer plaster is a thin layer of specially-formulated plaster applied over a gypsum baseboard or a gypsum panel, also known as blue board, specifically designed for veneer plaster systems. This baseboard is moisture-resistant and has a high suction rate, which helps the plaster adhere and dry quickly.
Once the plaster is applied, it dries to form a hard, smooth, and durable surface that can be painted, textured, or left as is for a polished and professional appearance.
The aesthetic appeal is this material’s main advantage, at least when compared to traditional plasterboards. The surface can be finished to anything from a simple, smooth polish to an elaborate texture.
The gypsum baseboard used in veneer plaster systems is moisture-resistant, making it less susceptible to damage from humidity and moisture exposure than traditional plasterboard. Moreover, veneer plaster can be easily repaired in case of damage by applying a patch and blending it seamlessly with the existing surface.
15. Wahoo Walls
Wahoo Walls is a patented basement finishing system that utilises prefabricated panels made from closed-cell expanded polystyrene insulation with a durable and paintable surface. The panels are lightweight and easy to handle, allowing for quick installation without the need for specialised tools or equipment.
The Wahoo Walls system is specifically designed for basement applications, providing a moisture-resistant and thermally-efficient alternative to traditional plasterboard, but similar systems also exist for home and garage use.
Compared to traditional plasterboard, Wahoo Walls provide high-performance insulation. This thermal efficiency can lead to lower energy consumption and reduced utility costs. In basements, it often eliminates the need of installing a space heater, especially if the space is primarily used for storage.
Beyond basements, these panels are an ideal choice for all applications where dampness and humidity can be a concern, thanks to their resistance to moisture.
16. Fibreglass Mat Gypsum Panels
Fibreglass mat gypsum panels are a type of gypsum board that features a fibreglass mat facing instead of the traditional paper facing.
The core of the panel is made from gypsum – the same material found in plasterboard. The fibreglass mat enhances the panel’s moisture and mould resistance, making it suitable for use in areas where these issues are a concern.
These panels are ideal to use in moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Depending on the room, possible finishes include paint, wallpaper, or tile.
Thanks to their easy installation, fibreglass mat gypsum panels are also suitable to use for wall linings, ceilings, and partition systems.
17. Wood Panelling
For homeowners seeking a warm and timeless but affordable alternative to traditional plasterboard, wood panelling offers an aesthetically pleasing and versatile solution.
It consists of thin sheets or panels made from solid wood or wood veneer, which are attached to the wall or ceiling framing. The panels can be installed vertically, horizontally, or even diagonally, allowing for a wide range of design possibilities.
Compatible finishes include paint, stain, or varnish, so you can easily achieve your desired look. Moreover, wood panelling can be found in various styles, such as beadboard, shiplap, board and batten, and tongue and groove.
Wood panelling provides a moderate level of thermal and sound insulation, so it is best suited for interior walls, partitions, or to install as a decorative element. Wood panelling can be combined with other materials, such as plasterboard or brick, to create unique and visually appealing spaces.
18. Plastic Panelling
Plastic panelling offers a practical and versatile solution to homeowners seeking a low-maintenance and water-resistant alternative to plasterboard. It consists of thin sheets or panels made from durable plastic materials, such as PVC, which are attached to the wall or ceiling framing.
The panels are lightweight and easy to handle, allowing for quick installation without the need for specialised tools or equipment.
Similar to fibreglass reinforced panels, plastic panelling is specifically designed for use in areas where moisture resistance and easy maintenance are important considerations, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and outdoor applications.
Plastic panelling also requires minimal maintenance, as it does not absorb moisture and can be easily cleaned with soap and water. This makes it a practical choice for busy homeowners who want an attractive finish with minimal upkeep.
19. Textured Wall Panels
An eye-catchy and versatile solution, textured wall panels come in various materials, textures, and finishes, allowing for a wide range of design possibilities. They can be used to create stunning feature walls, accentuate specific areas, or add visual interest to any space.
Depending on your project, you can choose from various materials, such as MDF, gypsum, PVC, or metal, all of which feature raised or embossed patterns.
The panels can be installed directly onto the wall or ceiling framing, providing a three-dimensional and visually striking appearance. Textured wall panels come in various styles, from geometric patterns to organic shapes, and can be finished with paint, stain, or varnish.
Depending on the material used, textured wall panels can be durable and long-lasting or provide an attractive and low-maintenance option for your interiors. Some panel types can also be used to soundproof a room.
While pegboard cannot replace plasterboard completely, it is a versatile choice for workshops, garages, and areas where organising items is essential.
The main advantage of these panels is their functionality. They are also easily customisable. You can use a wide range of hooks, brackets, and accessories to adapt pegboards to your specific needs and preferences. Moreover, you can install them directly onto wall studs or metal panels, skipping plasterboard installation altogether.
By providing vertical storage solutions, pegboards can help maximise space in smaller or cluttered areas. They also can be finished with paint, stain, or varnish to achieve your desired look, and can be used to create functional feature walls in various spaces.
With proper installation and care, pegboards can provide a lasting and visually appealing alternative to plasterboard.
There is a wide array of innovative and functional plasterboard alternatives. Each option offers unique benefits and features, such as moisture resistance, aesthetics, durability, or customisation.
Whether it’s wood panelling for a warm and natural look, plastic panelling for water resistance and low maintenance, or pegboard for customisable organisation, the right plasterboard alternative can provide a lasting and visually appealing solution tailored to your individual needs and preferences.