Ideas for wall coverings instead of sheetrock

Updated February 21, 2017

Sheetrock is a popular, inexpensive and easy-to-install wall covering for home interiors. Also known as drywall and plasterboard, sheetrock consists of an inner core of gypsum and softer, outer layers of thick paper. The downsides to using sheetrock are that its surfaces are prone to dents and other external damage, while its paper layers and gypsum core are susceptible to moisture damage. Fortunately, there are several other wall covering varieties that you can use in place of sheetrock.

Paperless Sheetrock

Like standard sheetrock, paperless sheetrock has sturdy gypsum cores. However, instead of having outer layers of delicate paper, the outer layers of the wall covering consist of sturdier fibreglass. Fibreglass is highly resistant to moisture, which can prevent the spread of mould into gypsum cores. In addition, manufacturers commonly waterproof the cores of paperless sheetrock, making the material even more resilient. And while paperless sheetrock is not 100 per cent resistant to mould, it is a useful wall covering option in moist interior spaces, like basements.


Unlike with sheetrock and paperless sheetrock, you cannot install plaster wall coverings by simply fastening panels to the underlying wall framework. Instead, you first have to install a lath board, which is a network of thin wooden framing strips. You then spread the plaster on top of the lath board and allow it to harden or cure. Like concrete, plaster cures to a hard, durable, rocklike consistency. You create a simple plaster by mixing dried lime or dried gypsum with sand and water. Most commercial plaster mixes, however, also include specialised bonding compounds for increasing strength.

Veneer Plaster

As of 2011, one of the most modern wall covering alternatives to sheetrock is veneer plaster. Veneer plaster combines the simplicity of sheetrock with the durability of plaster. Instead of using laths, installing veneer plaster requires that you first fasten gypsum core boards to the underlying wall framework. Unlike standard sheetrock, these boards have specialised blue layers that can tolerate moisture. To finish veneer plaster installation, you spread a thin layer of plaster directly on to the boards and allow it to cure.

Tongue and Groove Boards

Tongue and groove boards are narrow planks of material that have thin ridges -- or tongues -- along one edge and corresponding slots -- or grooves -- along the other edge. When installing the boards, you fit adjacent boards together by sliding one board's tongue into the other's groove. This creates a tight fit and provides a nearly seamless appearance. Manufacturers produce tongue and groove boards for wall coverings in a variety of materials, including natural woods like oak and pine as well as synthetic materials like polyurethane.

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About the Author

Erik Devaney is a writing professional specializing in health and science topics. His work has been featured on various websites. Devaney attended McGill University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanistic studies.