Dry lining (sometimes referred to as drywalling) is a system for cladding the internal faces of buildings, such as walls and ceilings. Plasterboard is attached to the internal faces, creating a smooth surface that finishes such as paint can be applied to directly, a ‘wet’ plaster finish is not required. Dry lining requires less technical expertise than traditional plastering and required little water, hence the term ‘dry’ lining.
Plasterboard is available in a wide range of lengths, widths and thicknesses. The larger the plasterboard, the fewer joints, but the harder it is to handle and fit. Plasterboards has a core of plaster which provides good acoustic and fire insulation. Fibres can be added for extra strength and durability. Moisture resistant plasterboards are treated with wax and can be useful when dry lining bathrooms for example.
Plasterboard can be fixed direct to the internal face of a wall or ceiling, or can be fixed to a secondary framework of metal or timber attached to the internal face. Each material requires a different fixing technique:
Dabs of adhesive can be used to attach plasterboard directly to the internal face, which sets swiftly.
Plasterboard can be attached to metal or timber walls using nails, this is known as tacking.
If screws are used for the fixing, this is called screwing. Typically screws support plasterboard better than nails.
Once the plasterboard is in place, a jointing tape can be applied over the joints between the boards and then the tape and recessed screw or nail heads can be filled over with a jointing compound. The joining compound for dry lining is usually supplied as a dry powder which requires water to achieve the correct consistency. The compound should then be allowed to dry and then may need to be sanded with a fine abrasive paper. The surface should then be sealed or primed, and once dry, can be decorated.
Dry lining is generally faster and easier to install than wet plaster, and generally results in an overall construction that weighs less. Dry-lined walls are easier to change, making buildings more flexible. Dry lining can also be used to increase thermal insulation and to prevent condensation. Additional insulation may be installed behind the plasterboard, and a vapour barrier might also be installed.
However, care must be taken to ensure that barriers and insulation are correctly positioned, continuous, and that they do not simply conceal a problem without remedying it. The technique known as ‘dot and dab’ has been particularly criticised for leaving air pockets behind the plasterboard which can impair the performance of the wall. See Dot and dab for more information.
Dry lining can have less load-carrying capability that traditionally finished walls, which may be a problem for fixing wall-hung cupboards or shelves. It can also be easier to damage.