History of Gypsum
Sunday, October 1st, 2017
History of Gypsum
Gypsum has served as a vital piece of many famous construction projects throughout history, one of those projects are the famous Egyptian pyramids. Gypsum is an important mineral with versatile and sturdy characteristics and has become a staple in today’s homes, buildings and structures.
We want to walk you through the history of this material to understand it’s use and evolution.
It is amazing to acknowledge that 5,000 years after the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids, those buildings are still standing and mostly intact!
Alabaster(obsolete material) is a form of gypsum used both in building and as a decorative material. The French chemist Lavoisier began modern research on gypsum by studying its chemical properties. Large deposits of gypsum were discovered near Paris, and “Plaster of Paris” (raw gypsum )became a popular building material (www.gypsum.org)
French farmers also used natural gypsum as a soil additive to improve crop yields. Benjamin Franklin brought this idea to America, and the use of gypsum in agriculture expanded dramatically when gypsum beds were discovered in New York State.
Gypsum Boards in Construction
The use of gypsum boards in construction began in the late 19th century, after Augustine Sackett patented “Sackett Board,” layers of thin plaster of Paris placed between wool felt paper.
Sackett Board was often used as a replacement for wood and as a base for the application of plaster. By 1916, Sackett’s product was a ready-to-finish board for use in construction, similar in concept to today’s modern gypsum board.
The Gypsum Industry Booms
The demands for rapid construction of military housing brought by World War I, led to a sharp increase in the demand for gypsum board. After a barracks fire tragically took the lives of several servicemen, gypsum board’s fire-resistant qualities made it the preferred choice in military housing.
Because gypsum offered significant advantages over traditional heavy masonry and concrete, the gypsum industry focused on expanding its use in commercial construction. To meet the demands of high-rise building, the industry developed gypsum board shaft wall systems and movable partitions systems as well as improved fire resistance. The tallest buildings in the world at that time—the John Hancock Tower, at 100 stories, and the Sears Tower, at 110 stories—used gypsum board in construction.
Now, with over 97% of new homes using gypsum board, it is clearly the interior construction material of choice.
Gypsum plastering is a modern day solution to time consuming and ecologically straining process of Sand Cement plaster.