Drywall is one of the most popular materials for wall coverings in a home.
However, there are downsides to using drywall.
When there are issues or holes in the walls, the drywall will have to be replaced and cleaned up, and this creates quite a bit of drywall dust.
The drywall dust is a pain to clean up, and if you aren’t good at replacing the drywall or repairing it, you will need to hire a professional.
Professionals can be expensive, and you will see where this is headed.
Over time, the alternatives to the drywall on your walls start to make quite a bit more sense.
Let’s take a look at what these alternatives are and whether or not they are a good idea for you to use in your home.
20 Alternatives To Drywall
1. Wood Planks
One of the easiest alternatives to drywall is wood planks.
In fact, with the wood planks becoming more and more popular and in style, you will see quite a few of them going up in houses all around the country.
Of course, there are issues with wood planks that you don’t get with drywall, but it is a very good solution overall.
Wood planks are going to be quite durable and should not cause you any issues with damage or destruction through the years.
In addition, you can paint wood planks quite easily to get a new look in your room.
The finished look of wood planks makes them a more complete option for the home.
Wood planks can also be left natural to ensure that your home has more of an outdoor or cabin-type look to it.
When installing wood planks as a wall covering, it’s a good idea to have a professional do it so that there are no long-term issues with the wood shrinking and expanding through the warm and cold weather.
Plywood is not typically a finished wall covering.
However, for those who are looking for a unique alternative to drywall, plywood can be used.
The plywood sheets are currently quite pricy, and you may want to wait if you are planning to use this is as a large wall covering.
Plywood is also quite heavy to hang, and it can take quite a few people to get this job completed properly.
Overall, this will be one of the least popular options that are available as an alternative to drywall.
Many homeowners will find that the plywood does work well in areas like garages or basements where other traditional wall coverings are not an option.
3. Veneer Plaster
Veneer plaster is an option that can go on directly on top of the drywall that is already on the walls.
If you find that your drywall requires a significant repair, a veneer plaster specialist may be able to fix the issue by putting on a coat of the veneer plaster.
The veneer plaster tends to be stronger than the drywall and will do more when it comes to protecting the walls over the long term.
The only problem with veneer plaster is that you will have to find a reliable local source that is capable of installing this product for you.
It is not as common as some other options, and therefore, you may struggle to find the right contractor with the talent to install veneer plaster.
Pegboard is a solution that you will probably not consider for installing in your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom.
However, a pegboard wall would be quite suitable in certain places in a basement or a garage area.
The pegboard is nice because it will keep you organized when you are hanging your gear and equipment on the wall.
However, there are issues with the pegboard when it comes to things like insulation and ensuring that the house stays warm or cool.
The pegboard can be installed directly into the studs, but this will create an odd look in a room like a dining room.
5. Lath And Plaster
The lath and plaster wall was something that was commonly found only until the invention of drywall.
Once drywall came to the market, the old method of lath and plaster went by the wayside.
This is because it takes a long time, and it is relatively inefficient when trying to install.
The lath and plaster design is something that will end up looking beautiful, but the time and money invested are very rarely worth the effort.
Think carefully about this option before you decide to use it in your home.
In addition, when you ask a local contractor to do this for you, they may look at you a little funny.
6. Wahoo Walls
A Wahoo Wall is a manufactured product that you can purchase ready to hang directly on the wall.
The Wahoo Walls were invented to make it easier for people to finish a basement.
These wall pieces come directly to you, and they are designed to keep out all moisture and damp air in the basement.
Wahoo walls are rather affordable when you consider the fact that they try to make basement refinishing a project you can do yourself.
Think about the money you could save by having a product come to you that you simply hang up, as opposed to having to deal with floating drywall.
Overall, this is an excellent option to keep on your list.
7. Plastic Panels
Plastic panels are often made for outdoor use, but some people find them to be quite useful indoors as well.
The plastic panels are virtually indestructible, and they have a tongue and groove type pattern so that each piece will fit easily into the next.
The concept of plastic panels is to have something that can hold up to any issues, keep moisture out, and create a long-term solution.
If this looks a bit harsh for your living room, that is understandable, but don’t count it out for the porch, sunroom, or even the lanai.
8. Textured Wall Panels
Textured wall panels will typically go on some type of accent wall in the home.
If you have ever seen these types of wall panels, you probably thought that it was some kind of special treatment that a restaurant or hotel paid to have done.
However, the textured walls that you see are probably just textured wall panels that were applied to cover up an existing pattern on a wall.
Many people will switch to textured wall panels as soon as they have a problem with their drywall such as the drywall starting to fall apart.
Since this can go directly over the drywall and be unaffected, this is a great way to do an accent wall in an area that needs a bit of extra attention.
Textured wall panels tend to be a bit too busy to put on every wall of the home.
Since they have such a distinct pattern to them, you will want to use these as more of an accent feature.
9. Basement Wall Finishing Systems
Although we talked about the Wahoo Walls being a great solution for a drywall alternative, there are lots of basement wall finishing systems that you could use.
The great thing about basement wall finishing systems is that they are often made to be water- and mold-resistant.
For some people who are having trouble with drywall because of the water issues they experience in their home, thinking about a basement wall finishing system could be a good option.
Luckily, plenty of companies will allow this basement wall finishing system to work correctly in your home and provide you with the drywall alternative that you are looking for.
In addition, if you are someone who wants a DIY project, you may find the basement wall finishing systems to be a good solution.
The more time you spend working on long-term solutions to drywall alternatives, the less likely it is for you to have to research this project again in just a few years.
A brick wall is a very classic alternative to drywall.
Not only is exposed brick in style at the moment, so is painted brick.
If you have a drywall wall in your home that is covering an old brick wall, you may want to think about ripping the drywall down and letting the brick be exposed.
With the way that the brick wall can really show character and texture, it is an option that many should be considering.
Brick, of course, can be a bit expensive to build if you don’t already have a brick wall.
Some types of bricks cost more than others, and a masonry expert can be an expensive contractor to hire.
However, if you are looking for something that will likely increase the long-term value of your home, the brick wall could be a great choice.
11. Cement Board
The modern cement board look is an option that many homeowners use when trying to keep the clean lines and high-end finishes throughout a home.
Cement board walls are often combined with a polished concrete floor.
These walls are going to have a very distinct look to them, and they will stand out from others on the market.
The cement board walls can bring a very heavy look to the home.
If you pair this with large and stately furniture and bold colors, the look may not be quite right.
Instead, you are going to want to be sure that you are using a very simplistic and minimalist design around a cement board wall.
This is something that is a bit similar to the textured panel as far as the look that it can bring across.
Try using a cement board finish on one wall and see how the overall design looks for your individual needs.
If you end up liking the look, go ahead and add several more cement board walls around the home.
12. Lath With Woodchip-Clay
The lath option, as we have mentioned, is one of the more time-consuming options on the market.
You will find that the lath with woodchip-clay combination will hold up better than the lath and plaster, but this is still a complicated and involved process.
The only thing that you should keep in mind is that if noise reduction is your primary concern, the lath woodchip clay solution could be one of the best.
Sometimes drywall is not very good at keeping noise from traveling from one room to the next.
However, if you can use an alternative that reduces noise, you may be happier about your overall ability to enjoy a peaceful home.
Speak to some local contractors about the different drywall alternatives they have, and if they are known for noise reduction, chances are this option will come up.
The lath with woodchip-clay will be a difficult option to work on by yourself if you do not have any previous experience.
13. Fiberglass Reinforced Panels
Fiberglass tends to be a much more durable material for keeping things protected and stable for years to come.
The fiberglass reinforced panels are often used as an alternative to drywall in a room like a mudroom or a laundry room.
If your kids get home from school and kick their boots off and they hit the wall, you could see some drywall damage.
However, with a fiberglass reinforced panel, you will not have this same problem.
The panels are thick enough to withstand quite a bit of wear and tear.
In addition, the fiberglass reinforced panels are relatively easy to install.
Many people like the durability of these in homes where there is quite a bit of wear and tear and use from a variety of people.
The look won’t be exactly like drywall as you will be able to see that these are thicker and a bit more reinforced, but overall, they are not going to stand out.
14. Fiberglass Mat Gypsum Panels
If you are one of those homeowners who do not want drywall, yet you still want your walls to look like they have drywall on them, then the fiberglass mat gypsum panels are the best choice.
Fiberglass mat gypsum panels will allow you to paint and work on the walls in almost the same way you can with drywall.
When you look at the fiberglass mat gypsum panel, you will have a hard time realizing that this is not drywall.
Overall, the fiberglass mat gypsum panels are also going to be more durable and longer-lasting than a traditional drywall panel.
If you have a little bit of extra money to spend and you want an option that is going to last you for many years to come, try to consider the fiberglass mat gypsum panels in your home.
The extra money you spend will likely be well worth it.
15. Exposed Concrete Block
One of the latest trends that homeowners and designers are using as an alternative to drywall is exposed concrete blocks.
The exposed concrete block can be polished and refinished, and even painted to make it look a little less harsh inside the home.
This is an interesting concept because it could technically end up saving you money.
If your home is a concrete block construction, you will not need a wall covering for many of the exterior walls.
The overall look of the exposed concrete block can be great, but you have to be careful that it will work in all rooms of the home.
Some homes will have a softer feel, and the exposed concrete block tends to be a bit harsh.
Essentially, if you decide you are going to use exposed concrete blocks on the walls of your home, you may want to talk to a designer about the process.
There will likely be certain modifications that you need to make on the interior design work and overall decor to make this work.
In addition, pay attention to the different finish options that you will have when working with exposed concrete blocks.
Corkboard is another great alternative to drywall.
The corkboard can come in various colors and designs and will be a great convenience when it comes to hanging things on your wall.
The corkboard is not all that strong, so you will have to be very careful about what you choose to hang on it because, over time, it will start to wear down and need to be replaced.
Some people like to do a corkboard wall in their office because they can keep everything they need to see directly in front of them.
Corkboard walls help people to have an organized space that has a unique and cool design to it.
For many years, you could really only get one type of corkboard that came in a single color and design pattern.
Things have since changed, and the options are pretty impressive for those who are looking to install a great corkboard wall in their home.
17. Corrugated Metal
Corrugated metal is like something that you would see used to protect a home before a hurricane.
The corrugated metal is very strong and durable, and it has a unique, almost accordion-type look to it.
These corrugated metal walls are not a typical alternative to drywall.
Instead, this is going to be more of a unique design concept that certain people will want in an entranceway or as an accent.
The thing about corrugated metal walls is that you will not need to worry too much about wall decor.
This wall design will not sit flat, and therefore, it becomes really difficult to hang anything.
The accent and design in the room are going to be the wall itself, not the things that you hang on it.
If you can accept this from a design standpoint, this is a great option to consider.
18. Vinyl Siding
Vinyl siding is used for the outside surfaces on a home, but some homeowners will use it as an alternative to drywall.
Typically, in areas where there is moisture or maybe even a space that is exposed to both the inside and the outside, the vinyl siding can be a viable option.
Keep in mind that vinyl siding can be offered in a wide variety of color options.
People can order vinyl siding in almost any color option they would like.
However, once you purchase the siding, you’re going to be stuck with it for quite some time.
This is one of the longest-lasting products on the market, and you could keep this on the walls of your home for your entire lifetime.
Be sure that you really like the concept of vinyl siding before you decide to install it in your home.
19. Stone Walls
A stone wall will be similar to a brick wall.
The stone that you can get for a wall is going to likely have more color and shape choices than a brick wall.
Stone walls are not normally used in the construction of interior parts of the home.
The reason behind this is mostly that the stone is heavy and a bit more difficult to deal with than drywall.
However, with new stone options on the market that are lighter in weight or have just a stone finish to them, the options are becoming broader for homeowners.
Stone walls will allow you to create a warm and inviting home.
You must be sure that the colors of the stones are going to work with the decor you choose, as this will come into play during the decorating process.
20. Ceiling Panels
Last but not least, you have the option to put ceiling panels on your walls as well.
Ceiling panels are typically panels that are put on the ceiling of a home or even in a commercial or industrial building.
However, with these panels being good enough to use on the ceiling of a building, they are also something that you can use on the walls of your home.
This is not a popular style, and it is something that you will really have to commit to if you are interested, but it does still qualify as an alternative to a drywall finish on your walls.
Be careful of using these ceiling panels on both the walls and the ceiling as the room may get a bit confusing to look at.
At this point, you should feel very confident in your ability to find an alternative to drywall.
There are so many great options out there to choose from, so you should in no way feel stuck with the drywall being your only choice.
Over time, you will have to be sure that you understand the positives and negatives of each of these options.
Of course, it takes time to research and understand what is best for you.
Take into consideration the local weather, the style of the homes around you, and the natural color palette that your home already has to work with.
Speak to a professional if you are thinking about using an alternative to drywall.
Chances are the professional has used one of these options at some point in their career, and they will know the positives and negatives associated with it.
Maria JK Hars says
These are great tips. Thank you for the article. Years ago I was in a contemporary that used concrete block walls and it was striking, especially since it was built in the late 1960’s. It’s fire resistant, holds up very well and adds an interesting look. On the tiny home on wheels which I designed and built, we used painted plywood on both the interior (rated for interior) and exterior (rated for exterior) and at the seams we used 1×3 MDF on the interior and 1×3 slats on the exterior. On the top of the exterior gable ends we used aluminum metal and on the interior gable walls, we installed natural cedar T&G. Even after 6 years it has held up very well. Different textures create scale and it gives a visual interest.
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Fire code may require drywall. Behind many of these surface treatments.