Interesting History Of Drywall Pertaining To World War II

Date : Oct 06, 2017 Author : Sabyasachi Ghosh Category : Chemicals and Materials

Drywall was created by the U.S. Gypsum Company (USG) in the year 1916. Initially, it was termed as ‘sackett board’ after the Sackett plaster company, a subsidiary of USG.

The material was initially sold in the form of small fireproof tiles, however within a few years, it began to be sold in multiple layers of gypsum and sheets of paper. In less than ten years, it took its present day form, and consisted of a single layer of compressed gypsum that was sandwiched between two sheets of heavy paper. Even though it took only a few years for this board to transform into the present day material as it is known today, it took twenty five years for the builders to accept drywall and using it in a major quantity.

One may wonder that with all its variety of uses and benefits, why were the builders not accepting to use a simple building solution such as a drywall. The reason lies in the fact that during that time, drywall was considered as a cheap substitute, and had none of the fine art associated with making and using plaster. Additionally, people didn’t prefer homes that were not constructed properly, and since drywall was looked down upon, they stuck with the tradition of using plaster, even though it was more expensive than a drywall. U.S. Gypsum subsequently changed the brand name of this material to ‘Sheetrock’ in order to improve the reputation of drywall, but still drywall was ignored by homeowners and builders alike. 

The World War II ended in the year 1945, and since that time, drywall had become a popular and a dominant building material in the United States. Then a building boom happened after the war ended and contractors by that time had known the fact that they would be able to construct houses and other kind of buildings in one-tenth the time if plaster was abandoned for drywall, and this meant savings of costs and time and labor, leading to higher profits. During the course of time, the use of plaster decreased and drywall become the most obvious choice. The U.S. Gypsum is still one of the top producers of the world of drywall and had a net sales of over five billion dollars in the year 2007. 

Things changed after the United States plunged in the Second World War and the builders realized the benefits of using drywall. The reason for this was the acute shortage of labor. As the labor force of United States was diverted to the war effort and many soldiers were sent to foreign shores to fight, cheap and quick building materials were in great need in order to offset the shortage of labor and to offset the shortage of cash due to the Second World War. Due to the fact that labor shortage was in such a state that plastering didn’t remain a viable option, and hence people were forced to adopt drywall instead of plastered walls. Slowly, people realized the advantages of using drywall as factories and houses could be constructed in the shortest period of time and with just a small quantity of labor required as compared to that of plastered walls. Besides, efficient and cheap products were viewed as patriotic since they allowed people to spend more time and money in supporting the war effort.