What is Gypsum Used For in Construction?

March 13, 2024

The construction industry uses gypsum – natural or synthetic – in a variety of projects and as an ingredient in plaster, drywall and other products. It is a fire resistant, moisture preserving and sound absorbing material, making it an ideal choice for interior walls and ceilings. It is also recyclable, making it a sustainable product when mined responsibly and sourced as a by-product of other processes.

Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral with the chemical composition calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is found in nature in various forms and is mined globally. It is extracted through surface mining and must be treated with care to minimise the environmental impact.

It is a key ingredient in the production of concrete, where it acts as a retarding agent to control the rate of hydration and set time. In this role, gypsum reacts with cement particles to generate calcium sulfoaluminate hydrate that shields the cement from water and delays its hydration.

Alternatively, gypsum can be used ornamentally as a decorative finish known as alabaster. It was commonly carved into busts and statues, and utensils like cups during the Ancient Egyptian period from 51-30 BCE.

Whether it’s natural or synthetic, gypsum is a highly recyclable material with remarkable durability. It can be repurposed into new building materials and does not degrade in the same way as wood, concrete or metals. It is also less dangerous to health than asbestos, which was banned in 1999.

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