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What you need to know about gypsum as a construction material

By Milliam Murigi
Friday, April 23rd, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Robert Ng’ang’a Muigai is a gypsum installation expert.

Millliam Murigi  @millymur1

Tell us a bit about you and how long you have been in gypsum installation?

I am popularly known by friends and people close to me as “Ngash Morgan”. 

I was born and bred in Gatanga, Muranga county, but I am currently based in Nairobi.

I am a professional gypsum products installer and I have been in this profession for 12 years now.

Which type of gypsum do you use, locally manufactured or imported, why?

I have been using locally manufactured gypsum known as Hada Gypsum, which is manufactured at Mwingi in Kitui county. 

I use this specific one, because they are made from natural minerals and do not have chemical contaminants.

I usually avoid using imported gypsum, because I don’t know the source and what they contain.

While gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that many companies mine, lately people have begun making it synthetically from coal-fired power plant waste products.

Actually, gypsum board manufacturers are increasingly relying on “synthetic” gypsum as an effective alternative to natural gypsum in many countries. However, there is no noticeable negative impact from synthetic products.

What are the do and don’ts when choosing the best gypsum products?

If you want to get the best gypsum products, you must check the origin of the product since locally produced products are better than the imported ones.

Check the name of the product and the manufacturing company. Finally, work closely with an expert to know the kind of product you are buying.

On the other side, never buy a product that you are unfamiliar with, and avoid buying products without company details.

How can one differentiate between synthetic gypsum products from natural ones?

The best thing is that both natural and synthetic gypsum products are similar in terms of calcium sulfate and all are safe to apply. 

However, if you would like to differentiate the two, the size of the crystals should guide you.

Natural gypsum has larger crystals while synthetic gypsum has smaller crystals in form of their formations.

Gypsum products are rarely used (although they are gaining momentum now), because of the cost involved. What do you think needs to be done to reduce the product’s cost?

Gypsum products are quite expensive because there are few manufacturers who have ventured into this space.

This gives them the freedom to sell their products at whatever price they wish.

If we can have more manufacturers coming on board, I believe the cost will be reduced as competition will be there.

Why should I choose gypsum over other materials?

Gypsum has proved to be a miraculous material aiding interior construction, because of several reasons.

To name just, but a few, gypsum is more durable and this means that it can be used to construct strong quality walls and ceilings that offer excellent dimensions of stability and durability.

Gypsum is also economical in the sense that it is readily available and relatively large compared to other materials.

Gypsum also takes shorter construction time, is flexible and sturdy thus it can be molded into your favorite design very easily, is fire resistant, versatile, and can be used as a soundproof.

The main reason people are now going for gypsum is because of the heat-resistant element of this material. It comes with thermal insulation properties that help keep your home cool.

How about disadvantages?

Yes, there are several disadvantages and the major one is that gypsum plaster cannot be used for outside walls since they retain dampness.

Also, gypsum plastering cannot be done in areas that are continuously damp, such as the bathroom. 

Apart from that, gypsum plaster is costlier than traditional cement mortar plaster (cement and sand) for the same thickness of plaster.

Milliam Murigi