Does Plywood Insulate Better Than Drywall?

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Plywood and Gyprock are sought-after building materials. Several thin layers of wood are pasted together to make plywood.

Drywall is also referred to as gypsum board or plasterboard. We make drywall using gypsum, paper, and a few additives. It may also contain recycled paper and some non-toxic additives.

Does plywood insulate better than drywall? Plywood and drywall are very different from each other. One basic difference is their ability to insulate homes. Plywood keeps the heat in better than drywall when the temperatures drop and when it snows. It offers 37% more insulation than drywall.

Plywood: History

The three light plywood boards stacked, macro

Here is a brief account of the history of plywood which would put our discussion in perspective:

Who invented plywood?

Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were the first to invent the prototype of plywood. They cut pieces of wood very thin and glued them together with the grain in perpendicular directions. They did this because fine wood was in short supply. This invention was advantageous because it was a very versatile building material.

In 1797, a British naval engineer applied for patents for many machines to produce veneers. His concept was to laminate several layers of veneer with glue to form a thicker piece. During Bentham’s time sawing was tough work. You had to use your muscles!

The Invention of The Rotary Lathe

About fifty years later, Immanuel Nobel, the father of Alfred Nobel  (the inventor of nitroglycerine-based dynamite) realized that several layers of thinner wood stuck together would be stronger than one piece of thick wood. He also understood the potential of laminated wood. To put all his ideas into fruition, he invented the rotary lathe.

The Development of the Veneer Lathe

The German inventor Wilhelm Baumann invented the veneer lathe in 1907. It was a special lathe designed to accommodate the thin veneer sheets so that they could glue together properly.

Industrial production started shortly after the introduction of plywood into the United States in 1865. The United States produced the first plywood sheets (for commercial purposes) in 1928.

The Evolution of Drywall

People used plaster before Augustine Sackett and his friend from university, Fred Kane invented drywall in the 1880s. The two created wallboard made of straw, felt paper, and tar. They also developed a machine to manufacture the wallboard the same year.

People used plaster for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians burnt gypsum in open-air fires and produced plaster. The Romans and Greeks used plaster for architecture and sculpting. In Babylon, people lived in houses with plaster walls. People used plaster during the 19th century and early 20th century for construction work.

In 1916 United States Gypsum (USG) invented sheetrock that we also call drywall. After using plaster for centuries, most builders took their time to change from plaster to drywall. At first, they used it along with plaster. Then, when drywall technology improved, builders used drywall without plaster for construction work.

Drywall was a better option because they just cut the drywall sheets and nailed or screwed them into place. During the 1950s and 1960s, more and more builders used drywall because it was cheap and it took them very little time to install the drywall sheets.

Plywood: Types and Uses

Interior design of bedroom in house

Plywood is a wood-based material made from several thin layers of wood. You glue the wood veneers crosswise at a 90 ° angle to each other along the grain. This is to normalize properties like shrinkage and swelling. The quality of plywood depends on the number of veneer layers and how you glue them.

There are several types of plywood the major categories being interior, exterior, and marine. Plywood has many uses. Some of them are manufacturing furniture, construction work, and in the automobile industry, for doing the interiors of houses and offices. Construction grade plywood is for making cabinets and furniture. We use higher-grade plywood for roofs, walls, and floors.

Properties of Plywood

Plywood doesn’t sag even when you place heavy loads on it. Plywood sheets are more water-resistant than ordinary board sheets of the same thickness. It is also an inexpensive variety of wood and easier to work with than solid board as you can saw, plane, or drill it easily.

You can glue or nail plywood easily. The joints are strong because plywood has numerous cross-grained layers that resist separation. It can withstand changes in temperature and humidity because of its structure.

Artists prefer to work on plywood because its lightweight and smooth surface that makes it easy to handle. It is possible to make curved shapes more easily with plywood than with most conventional woods.

Benefits of plywood

Modern wardrobe with slide out rack for coathangers. Detail of modern furniture

  • Gives your office or home a warm and natural look.
  • The wood grain of plywood provides natural warmth.
  • Fine grade plywood when used as a wall covering, gives it a very rich look.
  • Plywood provides good thermal and sound insulation.
  • We use construction-grade plywood for roofing, walls, and subfloors.

How To Enhance the Insulation Properties of Plywood.

The best way to enhance the insulation for plywood is by fixing rigid foam onto the plywood sheets. Rigid foam is easy to cut and fix. Here’s how you do it:

Cleaning the Plywood

Vacuum the plywood to remove dust and debris. Or, clean it with a tack cloth. Be careful not to wet the plywood as it is porous and takes a while to dry.

Measuring and Marking

First, measure the height of each sheet of plywood. Then transfer the measurements onto the sheets of rigid foam insulation. With a utility knife score both sides of the insulation a little beyond the measurement lines and fold it back and forth until it breaks off.

Adding the Foam

Builder Fitting Insulation Into Roof Of New Home

Now, lay the foam insulation face down. To ensure maximum insulation ability, the foam is usually covered with a reflective foil. The foil needs to face the floor to enable you to apply the adhesive on the back of the sheet.

Applying Adhesive

Spread beads of the subfloor adhesive or polyurethane foam insulation adhesive around the sides an inch from the edge. Then spread the adhesive in a zig-zag pattern in the center of the insulation sheet. Allow the panel to sit for about five minutes to give the adhesive time to become tacky.

Adding the Insulation

Press the insulation sheet against the plywood. Lay the foam insulation sheet so that it overlaps the plywood seam. If you line up the seam of the insulation and the plywood, you create a weak area through which air escapes.


Use a clamp, to hold the insulation in place for several minutes. Heavy weights like bricks are also placed on top of the foam sheet to make it adhere properly.

Follow this pattern for all the plywood sheets. After doing this, place two insulated panels next to each other and secure the seam with weatherproof tape. This helps to hold the panels in place and also keeps air from escaping through the seams. You should also seal the top and bottom edges.

Drywall: Types and Uses

A sheetrock or drywall background

Drywall is also known as plasterboard, wallboard, sheetrock, gypsum board, buster board, and custard board. It is made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum) with or without additives.

Drywall is a type of building material used to protect the framing on walls and ceilings. It is also used to give house interiors and buildings a beautiful finish. It is environment-friendly since it is mainly made from gypsum (a mineral abundantly available in nature) and recycled paper.

The gypsum plaster is then covered on both sides using heavyweight paper or fiberglass matting. Some manufacturers add certain additives such as anti-mildew and fire-resistant materials. They mix them with gypsum plaster before applying the paper or matting.

There are different types of drywall – regular or whiteboard drywall, green board drywall, blue board drywall, purple board drywall, type X drywall, type C drywall, soundproof drywall, paperless drywall, and cement board.

Properties of drywall

  • Drywall is affordable and offers insulation as well.
  • Drywall is fire-resistant. It is an ideal material for both homes and offices since it slows the fire from spreading. This safety feature is because of the crystallized water in the gypsum. It helps to save lives and property.
  • Drywall is easy to install and repair. The installation of drywall is a quick and easy process. You install the panels in large sections, thereby saving time and money.
  • Drywall is an eco-friendly material.

Benefits of drywall

  • Drywall is easy to manufacture.
  • It is cost-effective.
  • It is fire-resistant and made of natural materials.


Homeowners typically use both plywood and drywall. Drywall is like a blank canvas – it can be painted in any color. You can also give it any kind of finish. On the other hand, plywood offers a natural wood grain pattern.

It is stronger and damage-resistant too. Its R-value is higher than that of drywall. You also have the option of enhancing its insulation, which is an added benefit. This way you can the cold out in a cost-effective manner.