Advancements in waterproofing products, technology and application methods have greatly improved the resilience of buildings to moisture damage, as have the wall lining products available today.    

Australian states have also established licencing regimes, with warranties issued in conjunction with waterproofing work being performed by qualified licensed applicators.

New advances both in gypsum wallboard and membrane technology are removing a lot of the time and effort previously associated with lining bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and other wet areas in residential homes. Indeed, there are now special wallboard products that reduce risk of moisture or mould damage in even the most demanding environments such as aquatic sports centres, hospital facilities, laboratories and commercial kitchens.


When gypsum-based wallboard was first adapted and manufactured for use in wet areas in the 1960s, there were some early failures. Many of the early issues could be attributed to the type and application method of the waterproofing, or subsequent damage to it. Whatever the reason for the waterproofing breach, if moisture came in contact with plasterboard for prolonged periods, it could crumble in affected areas, despite the gypsum being coated with a moisture-resistant paper.

Although this is all now ancient history, the perception in the Australian market has persisted that fibrous cement sheeting is more waterproof than wet area plasterboard. In fact, the structural adequacy of fibrous cement sheeting can also be compromised when subject to moisture ingress. Plasterboard has been especially formulated for use in wet areas and manufactured for over fifty years now with new improved formulas for different applications continuing to be developed. In the early days, only the external paper was moisture resistant so the joints had to be taped using a specific moisture resistant jointing compound; these days the gypsum is imbued with a wax-based emulsion, making it moisture resistant through to the core so regular setting type jointing compound can be used.    



Putting aside the question of whether one type of lining is ‘more moisture resistant’ than the other, there are strong arguments and practical considerations for choosing wet area plasterboard.

Firstly, it comes in similar sheet sizes and thicknesses to other wallboards (10 or 13mm). This means the lining of wet areas will be similar in appearance to the rest of the building. Left-over wet area board can also be used to finish or patch other rooms, and you can use the same jointing compound.

In fact, some builders are specifying that the same multi attribute linings are used in all areas of multi-tenancy developments such as hotel rooms and small apartments. The slightly higher cost of purchasing the multi attribute plasterboard is more than recouped by the convenience of only having to specify, order and take delivery of a single product, then getting the sheets up to different levels. It also eliminates the risk of rework when a plasterer installs the wrong board in the wrong place.

A second advantage of wet area plasterboard is that, with its paper surface, it paints up and presents as well as other types of plasterboard. This is especially important in rooms where tiling does not reach up to the ceiling (such as the painted wall area above 1200mm-high wall tiles) or down to the floor, as under a pedestal handbasin. Fibrous cement sheet, on the other hand, is sanded with rotating drums during the manufacturing process – leaving gouges which can be highly visible through paint, especially in areas of glancing light.

A third advantage of wet area plasterboard is that it’s as easy to score, snap and install using the same screw type as other kinds of plasterboard. Fibrous cement sheeting is not as easy to cut and is either nailed or installed using specialised screws.


When a product used for wet areas is similar to the products used elsewhere in the project in terms of thickness, appearance, ease of installation and reliability, it stands to reason that it makes a better choice to use it rather than ‘carve out’ small areas and apply a technically different lining product.

The biggest technical advantages of wet area plasterboard over traditional fibrous cement sheeting are in its handling, working and installation. Less effort involved, less risk of injury and so very much faster to use. In most projects that can add up to a considerable saving in costs, time and angst.    

Learn more about the USG Boral water-resistant plasterboard range or hear from a builder who recently switched to using water-resistant plasterboard at USGBoral.com/au/wr-plasterboard.