It is common for people to choose to renovate their homes starting with drywall, but there are many other alternatives that homeowners overlook entirely.
This can leave your home lacking some personality and make it seem like a cookie-cutter version of anyone else’s home.
Drywall is a fine enough choice, but it is not the easiest to work with. You must do a good deal of mudding, sanding, and taping before you finish it.
Other alternatives take far less effort to apply.
Below, I will outline different alternatives to using drywall for you to consider when designing the look of the walls in your home.
Cheaper Drywall Alternatives
Here are a few drywall alternatives for interiors to bring new life:
1. Plywood and Sheet Wood
Plywood is easily one of the most inexpensive drywall alternatives that give your space a one-of-a-kind personality and flair without having to pay the high price of wood planks, drywall, or even veneer.
This can be paired with some wall decals to bring out a country or farmhouse chic appearance.
Sheet wood and plywood are both straightforward to work with and are no more difficult to use than drywall.
So long as you feel comfortable operating a power drill, you will be able to install plywood.
You can also paint plywood any color you choose, so you aren’t necessarily limited to the natural color that it comes in.
2. Wood Planks
Wood planks are, as mentioned, a bit more expensive than sheet wood and plywood, but many find their visual appeal to be more than worth it.
Planks offer a rustic and elegant atmosphere without having to bother with the issues with traditional drywall.
After the planks are hung, you won’t have to do much in terms of maintenance outside of ensuring that they stay dry. This is especially true if you first seal them with lacquer.
3. Textured Wall Panels
Wall panels can make any space look elegant while also adding a bit of dimension and depth to a surface that is otherwise quite flat.
These panels are ones you used to see only in high-end cocktail lounges and boutique hotels, but they are becoming more popular in homes.
They are not as expensive as some of the other options though they can cost a bit more than some of the items on this list.
You can consider them like kitchen backsplashes in that you can get any manner of colors, designs and patterns, material types, and more to work with. The options are virtually limitless.
4. Veneer Plaster
This is probably the alternative that is most similar to drywall.
Even so, plaster is easier to work with than drywall. It doesn’t need as much skill or tool knowledge as it does to hang drywall, so those who are prioritizing ease of use above all may want to consider it.
That said, this list is likely the most time-consuming and labor-intensive option. Though it isn’t that hard, it can take an entire day to get it all up.
5. Lath and Plaster
Like veneer plaster, lath can be combined to whatever size you desire.
Lath is narrow strips of wood placed between ceiling joists and studs, laid down horizontally, and then coated with plaster.
Because drywall and plasterboard became popular, this style lost its trendiness for a while.
Today, many use it to add some texture to their walls. It is particularly great for curved surfaces at the edges of a room since you can warp and bend the texture and let it dry how you like it.
Through this method, you can create one-of-a-kind wall designs that are next to impossible with any other material.
6. Exposed Concrete Block
If you like a raw finish and a modern touch, you can just leave the structural area of the wall the way it is.
This kind of aesthetic can be difficult to pull off, if it is not done right, it can look like you have simply left a wall incomplete.
You could also paint over the cement to give it a textured panel that looks to solve the problem.
That said, if done right, this can be a beautiful and sophisticated way to decorate your room.
It offers a minimal design and a modern industrial look that is difficult to get with other types of materials.
7. Brick and Masonry
A brick wall or stone wall is a classic style that will never fall out of trend.
These materials make a great choice for those who want to give their home a warmer atmosphere. You can change it depending on the color of the brick you use.
It is particularly well suited for suburban and country homes, and the materials in these houses are often mixed and matched.
This means that you will commonly see a home with a brick wall while the others are made out of drywall.
It can cost more than drywall, but it is a more sustainable option that you can count on to last for an entire lifetime without having to worry about any real cleaning or maintenance.
If you never intend to tear the wall down, this is a great choice.
Pegboard is a good choice for those who want to hang things on the wall, such as art, tools, and any crafts you want to keep close at hand.
It is great at reflecting light, so it stands out and makes the room look bigger all at once.
The material is quite strong, so you won’t have to worry about hanging heavy items on the wall.
9. Cement Board
Using cement boards across all of the walls will offer a feeling of brutalism in your home. This encompasses a lot of flat surfaces, right angles, and concrete.
This can be pricy, but it is worth it for those who want a really dramatic look. In areas that have high moisture and often struggle with mold, this is a great choice.
It is recommended that you only use it on one wall instead of all four.
This material is better used as accent pieces rather than in entire rooms. If you use them on all four walls, it can feel like a factory.
10. Wahoo Walls
If you want to cover up a wall that is fashioned out of concrete or cinderblock, the Wahoo Walls brand is a good choice.
It is a basement wall finishing product that can finish the space look as natural as any other area in the home.
In fact, it looks just like drywall. The main benefit of this, besides its moisture resistance, is that you won’t need to screw into it. They are instead panels that simply click together.
11. Cork Board
These types of walls are similar to pegboards, although they can’t hold items as heavy as pegboards can.
They offer you a chance to have random designs across an entire wall while making it easy to thumbtack things to it or hang photos.
Cork board comes in a number of colors, sizes, thicknesses, and compressed cork chip densities.
It can not only scatter light throughout the room but also warm up its appearance.
12. Corrugated Metal
Panels of corrugated metal are those wavy sheets you commonly see on roofs.
You are free to use them indoors, but you should not use them on all four walls or even on an exceptionally large wall.
It is better to use this material instead to create a smaller accent wall. It is a rather inexpensive choice, and installing it is easy since all you need to do is screw it into the studs.
The biggest issue comes with cutting it to the proper size. You will need special metal shears, or a table saw in order to accomplish this.
13. Reinforced Fiberglass and Gypsum Panels
This is essentially a similar idea to drywall and shows a similar finished product. What makes it different is that this is more scratch-resistant and durable overall.
Since it is so strong, you won’t have to install any plywood beneath it with the studs.
Instead, it works as both drywall and plywood. This, of course, means you’ll get an extra inch or so in your room in both directions.
This type of fiberglass is known to be more resilient against mold and other similar issues that drywall often suffers.
There are a few surface designs that allow for a 3-D layer that you can add to it to give it a bit more dimension and depth.
14. Vinyl Siding
This is one of the least talked about alternative options for drywall, but those who use it love it. The plastic panels of this material are easy to install.
This is especially true if you are planning on using tongue and groove panels that can simply lock into place.
Fortunately, these are among the most common types of vinyl siding. These are great choices for open-air patios that are covered, but they don’t look so great indoors.
If you put these panels over plywood instead of dealing with drywall, you’ll have a surface that is easy to clean and fewer choices about which latex paint is best to use on it.
15. Temporary Wallpaper
After deciding on the drywall alternative you want to use, you can consider ways to dress up certain materials.
Temporary wallpaper is among the easiest alternatives to simply painting a wall.
They are easy to press into place and then peel them away whenever you want to change the look of your interior design.
If you find a good vendor who is willing to work with you, you can easily customize the temporary wallpaper you want to use.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to locate some samples and stick them to the walls to see what you think about them before committing to a certain kind.
Depending on the wallpaper type you opt for, you may notice it is more expensive than paint, so be sure you are keeping an eye on the price as you shop if you are on a budget.
Paint may seem like the cheaper option, and perhaps it is initially, but the paint will need new touchups and coats to keep it looking its best in the way wallpaper will not.
16. Hanging Shelves and Book Shelves
Hanging shelves are one of the modern interior design trends that universally look good in any home.
It takes very little effort to install them, and they can generally be placed just about anywhere.
That said, they do come with some limitations on the weight that can be safely placed upon them in a way that pegboard does not, for instance.
Naturally, these hanging shelves come with the advantage of storage, so they do more than just provide decoration.
Hanging shelves allow you to store various trinkets and decor on them, so you can always keep things looking fresh by changing what you are displaying from time to time.
Similarly, a bookshelf will do the job nicely. Whether you like to read or just have certain items you want to display, they are a good choice.
You can choose to have floor-to-ceiling bookcases or ones that only cover part of the walls.
This comes down to the size and shape of your room, as well as your personal preferences and budget.
Tapestries are an easy alternative to paint and wallpaper, especially if you enjoy using unique decorations that are eye-catching and bold.
You can find tapestries that hang from floor to ceiling, stretch across the entire wall, or only cover a certain amount of walls.
There are many ways to play around with tapestry products and decorate the walls exactly how you like.
You can use curtain rods or pins to stick the tapestries to the walls or even screws if you own the home.
You can also hang them using starch, but that can be a bit messy. It is a common method that has been employed for centuries and never quite goes out of style.
You can even design your own tapestry if your budget allows you to make the space truly your own.
There really is no limit to hanging tapestry in your home except for the aforementioned mounting options; if you live in a rented space, you may not be able to put the necessary holes into the wall to properly hang them.
Drywall has long been the go-to for building walls in homes, but just because it is the most popular does not mean it is the only choice.
There are many drywall alternatives for you to consider using instead of going with the usual.
From wood paneling to pegboard to concrete and plaster, there is a nice drywall alternative for any home of any style.
Above, we have outlined 17 creative ways for you to ditch the drywall and make your home more reflective of your own taste.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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