What Is the History of Gypsum?


Quick Answer

Gypsum has been used from early times for sculpturing, creating plaster and as windows prior to the invention of glass. The ancient Egyptians used a form of gypsum known as alabaster for both construction and decorative purposes. Gypsum was also used as a soil additive to improve crop yields.

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Full Answer

Gypsum boards consisted of thin layers of plaster of Paris sandwiched between wool felt paper. Construction of these boards began in the late 19th century when they gained popularity as a replacement for wood. Other construction materials include gypsum plaster bound with fiber. Demand for gypsum as a construction material increased sharply during World War I due to the need to construct military housing rapidly.

The economic boom of the 1950 saw several new innovations leading to the creation of new gypsum materials, with approximately half of all new homes built by 1955 using gypsum wall boards in their construction. Gypsum offers several key advantages over traditional construction materials such as masonry or concrete, including its ability to adapt, or be recast and reconstituted into a wide variety of construction materials. Gypsum is an evaporite mineral commonly found within layered sedimentary deposits. Today, gypsum is widely used as an interior construction material, with the vast majority of new homes utilizing gypsum boards.

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