Forget bricks and mortar, gypsum's in


Traditionally in India, sand, wood and water form the basis of every building construction. The building construction sector uses 17 per cent of fresh water available in the world and 25 per cent of wood harvested plus a sizeable amount of sand. The amount of sand, water and wood that goes into constructing a structure if calculated gives you a huge amount which could have otherwise been utilised for a more effective environment friendly purpose.

With each new tall tower, another beach is heading towards becoming sandless, a chunk of our population is dying without water and our environment is becoming victim to a thousand natural diseases because there are hardly any trees left to protect us.  
Does this mean we stop construction at all? Where would we house our ever increasing population? In an era of limited resources and need for sustainable materials, gypsum has sure enough emerged as a lifesaver for our construction sector which is heavily dependent on sand, wood and water for its survival.

Gypsum is a light-weight material which is formed as the result of evaporating sea water in massive prehistoric basins.

Gypsum products have been used over centuries in the construction space and are the material of choice because of gypsum’s unique properties.

It has excellent insulation properties, both thermal and acoustic, and can offer very good passive fire protection, moisture resistance, impact resistance and vapour control when used in combination with the right systems.

In false ceilings, drywalls

Gypsum is used as plasterboard to create false ceilings and high performance drywalls and partitions. Plasterboard is one of the earliest and most versatile prefabricated construction materials that is widely used world over. Gypsum can also be used as a plaster for finishing brick and mortar walls and ceilings instead of traditionally used sand-cement plaster to deliver superior finishes.

A clear testament of the viability of gypsum products can be seen in the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt which were lined with gypsum stucco plaster centuries ago and is still intact, which is proof of the durability and performance of this product.

The buildings of the future will be taller, have more stringent fire safety requirements and need more acoustic comfort thus making traditional construction materials obsolete. These requirements are met by gypsum plasterboard based ‘Drywall Solutions’ which have the following benefits:

*Light weight systems - 8 to 10 times lighter than masonry systems
* Faster construction - 3 to 4 times faster
* Conservation of important natural resources like sand wood and water
* Superior acoustics performance in terms of both absorption and insulation
* Tested and certified systems to give between 1 - 4 hour fire rating
* Smooth, aesthetic crack free surfaces
* Flexibility in dividing spaces
* Green recyclable product

A single system incorporating all these factors is a rare combination and they give architects the flexibility in designing spaces of the future. Over 80 per cent of all interior construction in the developed markets across all applications is with drywalls.

Lighter and faster to build

Drywalls are used for interior partitioning from a practical as well as an aesthetic point of view. Drywalls as the name implies is a dry construction technique to build walls which are lighter and faster to construct. A drywall consists of a Gypsteel Ultra steel framework (studs, floor and ceiling channels) fixed to Gyproc gypsum plasterboards on both the face sides. The same is then finished using a Gyproc joining compound and paper tapes for a monolithic finish. Between the metal stud partitions is an air gap which can be filled with glass wool insulation to get higher fire and acoustics performance ratings. Drywalls have proven to be more effective as well as environmental friendly than the traditional use of wood and sand in the construction process.

Different kinds of gypsum plasterboards are used based on the end application needs in terms of performance like Gyproc Fire line for fire applications, Gyproc Moisture Resistant for high moisture areas and Gyproc Duraline for high impact and acoustic areas apart from the plain plasterboard.

Light weight Drywall Solutions are soon set to become a norm in India. In the developed world, building solutions are fairly advanced from a performance point of view as the construction practices have evolved over a period of time. In India, construction practices are evolving and hence the use of advanced building systems focused on performances like fire, acoustics etc. is not very wide spread.

Brick and mortar

Conventional systems used for internal walls and ceilings involve masonry (brick/block with sand - cement plastering). In this type of construction, quality of bricks and sand varies as components sourced from various vendors may not be up to the standard. There is a huge cost involved for transportation of large volume of bricks, sand, cement etc. There is also the possibility of messy work in progress and waste being accumulated at the site of construction. Brick and masonry wall systems are more prone to shrinkage cracks. Brick and masonry construction is also time consuming as the process involves inefficient processes like water curing and “chasing” for creating passage for services (electrical and mechanical)

Earlier this year, construction in Mumbai had come to a near halt due to a serious shortage of sand. Against a daily sand demand of 600 -1,000 trucks, hardly three to 10 trucks were being transported into the city and that, too, from neighbouring Gujarat.  Before the shortage, sand prices were Rs 2,500 per truck of 2.5 brass (1 brass is equal to 100 cubic feet of sand), but after the shortage the prices surged to Rs 12,000 per truck. This has lead to a surge in the construction cost and delay in projects in the city. Over 90 percent of construction activity in Mumbai's suburbs had been affected by the acute shortage of sand. This is also prevalent in most parts of India.

Use of wood

*They aid the spread of fire
* Detrimental to the environment, as they necessitate the cutting of tress
* They have poor acoustics (sound created in one room can be easily heard in another room having a wooden partition)
* Not very economical

According to environmentalists, using wood for interior paneling comes at a high cost. Illegal logging practices have become common due to the high demand and easy availability of wood to the construction industry. With loss of forests, it is claimed that it can lead to global warming. For a nation to be able to breathe, it must have at least 33 per cent of its area covered by forests.

 By that measure, India looks to be in trouble, with a total forest cover of 21.02 per cent, according to the India State of Forest Report 2009 put out by the Ministry of Environment & Forest.

Today, most building codes and fire-safety norms in the developed world do not permit the installation of stand-alone wood paneling. Most codes require homeowners to replace original wood paneling with fire-resistant products such as drywalls.

There are several other disadvantages of maintaining wood paneling on interior walls. Paneling darkens with age, and as a result, some homeowners find that such paneling makes their rooms also ”feel dark.” Others experience difficulty selecting interior items for a wood-paneled room.

Wood has a very low inertia and has to be managed effectively to avoid summer discomfort in hot areas. Other environmental concerns for wood-related products relate to health issues concerning toxic finishes.

Public awareness and health policy have spurred on the development of alternative wood finishes, namely water-based coatings that contain no VOCs and closely resemble traditional wood coatings in appearance.

Help water conservation

Apart from its advantages over traditional methods of constructions, the usage of drywalls enables water conservation. When a building is being constructed, a lot of water is utilised in its construction. According to an estimate, more than 500 million square meters of construction area uses more than 500 million tons of water, and the level of construction site waste, estimated to wastage of millions of tons of water, which is enough for one year life of a large urban water use. It is disturbing to see millions of gallons of water being pumped out on to the construction sites and being wasted every single day. By using drywall systems, the percentage of water used in construction is reduced by a huge amount as drywalls as the name suggest involves a dry installation.
Gypsum being a green recyclable material ensures a smoother and timely finish, higher productivity, and higher performance.

It also leaves the sites cleaner as it is a non messy procedure along with low electricity bills owing to its low conductivity levels. Gypsum seems to be becoming every developers delight.

Suppliers too seem to be increasing their supply of this wonder construction material to various sectors, right from the hospitality and commercial sector to the healthcare sector.
Gyproc gypsum drywalls have been used to build many of India's new landmarks like the Delhi International Airport T3 terminal, Office spaces like the Infosys, IBM and Cisco office in Bangalore, upcoming hotels like the Leela Palace in Delhi and Crown Plaza in Kochi and hospitals like Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai and Beams Hospitals in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Similarly Gyproc gypsum plasters have replaced sand -cement plasters as the solution of choice for all leading builders in Mumbai and Pune and is now starting to catch on with developers in other cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi as well.

Many builders such as Lodha, Hiranandani, K Raheja, Magarpatta, Oberoi, Rohan, HCC, Rustomjee to name a few have adopted this method of plastering for majority of their projects for its sheer convenience over traditional plastering and aesthetic appeal.

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