Should we use brick or plasterboard walls inside our house?

 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when we think about doing a project, either in new construction, rehabilitation or renovation. In Spain we have been using brick as a material to create interior divisions in buildings for centuries and that is why most people tend to think that it is undoubtedly the best solution.

In this post we will talk about why using plasterboard partitions, commonly known as Pladur (commercial brand name), is a very good option or perhaps even the best according to some professionals in this field.

 

Advantages of brick walls when deciding between plasterboard and brick:

 

Easy transport. Due to their size, bricks can be easily transported to the building site and, once there, we normally have no problem with the placement.

Cost effective material. Both brick and mortar, which is used to join the bricks, are economical materials.

Easy to work with. Often, we find setbacks or joins that have to be made with precision and care. When using brick, the operator has greater freedom in working these details.

High resistance. We can hang both light objects such as paintings or shelves to heavy furniture, boilers… without having to anticipate it beforehand because the resistance of the walls is equal in its entire surface.

Before and after images of the brick walls in the Casa Forn project

 

Brick walls or walls made out of stone materials have been built for thousands of years. On the other hand, we can say that those made out of plasterboard or laminated plaster are new in comparison, although they were invented more than 100 years ago.

The first factory was installed in the United States in 1894, but it was not until 1978 that this material arrived in Spain thanks to the Uralita Company. So, after more than 40 years in the Spanish market, what advantages can plasterboard offer us?

 

Advantages of plasterboard walls when deciding between plasterboard and brick:

 

• Quick to install. Plasterboard plates, due to their size and simplicity of assembly, are faster to place.

• Dry installation. Since mortar and plasters are not required, we save time and the installation is cleaner.

• Less rubble. Due to the dry installation and the plasterboard plates, when we cut them, the remaining piece is easy to use.

• Light structure. A positive aspect, especially for renovations and rehabilitations, is the light weight of the interior walls made out of plasterboard; therefore we do not apply large loads to the existing structure.

• Smooth finish. Plasterboard provides a better look, with completely smooth walls and no need for plastering. Once we have the joints between plates, and the paste is applied on the joints and screws, the wall is ready to be painted.

• No ditches. Nowadays, we need to install a large number of cables and pipes in any building, which in the case of brick partitions must be embedded, creating ditches and rubs that weaken the walls. Using plasterboard, we always have a space between plates for these pipes, making the process faster, cleaner and safer.

• They adapt easily. The components of plasterboard can be easily modified or combined, so manufacturers continue to create different types of plaques according to our needs. In the case of the Pladur brand, among the most common, we can find the following solutions:

Pladur N (gray) – Standard model

Pladur H1 (green) – water and moisture resistant

Pladur F (pink) and A1 (white) – fire resistant

Pladur I (yellow) – Increased impact resistance

Pladur Fonic (blue) – with greater acoustic insulation

Pladur Therm and Pladur Lan – with high thermal performance

 

If it presents all of these qualities, why don’t we use Pladur more often?

The tradition and roots of the brick, which we mentioned previously, influences more than we think and therefore the brick is a material that is better accepted by the general public.

In addition, since plasterboard entered the Spanish market it has received a false bad reputation, which may have been given because the material was not used correctly.

Here are some of the most common complaints regarding Pladur:

The material’s resistance. Many people discard plasterboard for this reason, but the truth is that they should not because plasterboard walls are as resistant as brick walls and therefore we can hang anything on a plasterboard wall that we could on a brick one, although there are some aspects to take into account. When hanging loads of less than 30kgs on walls we will need to use appropriate plugs that will be specified by the manufacturer (umbrella, knot in large loads…). In the case of loads heavier than 30kgs, such as furniture, boilers… we have to plan for it, and we will have to fix them to a reinforcement to be incorporated in the wall (either during assembly or later). Therefore, it is true that in this last case we do not have this tranquility that the brick offers of not having to carefullyplan what we are going to hang on our walls.

Acoustic and / or thermal insulation. As it is a system that seems less firm or consistent, it gives us the feeling that we will hear everything that happens on the other side of the wall, or that it is a system that cannot thermally insulate properly. This is completely false because this system allows us to place acoustic or thermal insulation in its inner chamber, achieving better results with the same thickness. In addition, by not have to cut furrows in the walls it creates a screen without cuts that eliminates low frequency sounds.

The price. As explained previously, the materials used in brick walls are cheaper. However, if we take into account all the factors, we realize that the installation of plasterboard is always faster, cleaner and we are able to paint directly on it without the need for plastering. Thanks to all these factors we manage to match the price of a brick wall. So to decide we cannot be oriented by the price since both systems will cost approximately the same.

Before and after images of the plasterboard walls and ceiling in the Casa Antoninus project

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, both systems are completely valid, although depending on the type of project defined and the location of the project, we can always opt for one system or another.

In the case of the plasterboard, it is a little more difficult to find specialized operators and it is very important to know if it is a professional who is installing it for us. And although it seems logical, whichever system is chosen, we will always need a technician who knows how to advise us correctly and can guide the operators according to our needs.

 

The importance of zenithal lighting in architecture

 

Nowadays there is a need to illuminate the spaces we inhabit, that is, to illuminate the activities that we carry out inside buildings. Designing the lighting protocol with either natural or artificial light is a part of the architectural process.

In many cases, the type of lighting to be used is suggested thanks to the characteristics of the environment. The lighting options won’t be the same in an isolated house, where you can more easily install windows wherever you want to, than for example, in a house between party walls.

Thus, the environment can suggest but does not have to condition or make us give up the inclusion of natural light in all spaces. Therefore, the resource used in many cases is overhead lighting.

In our last post, we talked about the English house typology. It is precisely in this type of housing where you can truly understand the concept of zenithal lighting and its importance.

 

 

Zenithal light in architecture

 

We understand zenithal light as light that enters the building from an overhead position. It is also the lighting that we relate with a skylight.

 

Zenithal light is therefore natural light that we receive from above.

As we can see in the images, the types of windows that allow the entry of zenithal light and ventilation are known as Velux.

  

This type of lighting allows us to illuminate spaces where it is impossible to have a window receiving light from the outside and it also allows us to illuminate spaces where the lighting requirements are based on quality and quantity.

In many occasions even though the possibility of lighting through a conventional window exists we choose to use a ceiling window because it creates an atmosphere of comfort and warmth.

This type of ceiling light entry can also occur in intermediate decks such as patios and terraces in cases where under these structures there is a space with lighting difficulties. In these cases, skylights are used and they can be retractable or not, depending on whether it is necessary to combine lighting and ventilation.

Zenithal lighting allows direct contact with the outside, always discreetly and giving privacy, without showing the interior of the house to the street, in the way that a conventional window does.

Another type of zenithal lighting other than the one we explained previously is where light can be taken to the ground floor of the house through a well of light, using an interior patio.

These inner courtyards act as natural light conductors to all the rooms located in the darkest and most difficult areas to illuminate according to this type of housing.

In this way, not only the floor below the roof is illuminated, but the light captured on the roof of the house is distributed and reaches the ground floor.

Overhead lighting is a resource to be used according to the characteristics of the project and according to the design of the interior spaces.

Each interior space must be adapted to the way of living in it; therefore, the type of lighting will allow the used to develop their daily activities.