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Gypsum as fire Resisting Material

The greatest lure of using gypsum in building is its fire resisting quality. A gypsum-plaster resists the onslaught of fire by virtue of its 20.9 percent of water by weight, which it holds. During conflagration, the weight of crystallization evaporates in the form of steam which condenses to water on reaching the cooler part of the plaster slab and the temperature cannot exceed more than 100degree Celsius until all the water is driven off in the form of steam. Thus there is a very efficient barrier between the passage of heat and the combustible material. Gypsum plaster is therefore widely used as an insulating material for protecting columns and beams of wood or metal from high temperatures. A porous gypsum plaster is an excellent sound absorbing material while dense and hard plasters are efficient reflectors of sound reflecting upto 97 percent of sound energy incident at their surface.

Limitations of Gypsum Plaster

One of the greatest drawbacks of gypsum-plaster is its solubility in water to the extent of 2 grams per litre. As a result of continued exposure to damp conditions gradual softening of the plaster takes place. It cannot, therefore, be used in humid areas and for external work.

Storage of Gypsum Plaster

Bags containing gypsum plaster must not be in humid surroundings for long periods as it picks up moisture from the atmosphere. Prolonged storage first hastens up the rate of setting and then falling of in strength of the set plaster. Storage for three months of gypsum plaster even in a dry place results in the deterioration of the quality.

Gypsum Plaster Board

Gypsum plasterboards are very popular in many countries. They are commonly used for ceiling construction, for internal lining of wall and for partition walls. They are economical and easy to work and light in weight. They are fire proof and do not expand or contract with change in temperature and humidity. They can take all type of oil paints and wall paper; may be used without finish and can also nailed easily. For making gypsum plaster board, gypsum plaster is treated with water and made into slurry which is filled in the casts smeared with oil to get a clear release of the set which takes almost twenty minutes. Before the poured slurry hardens into a paste of required consistency, fibres (coconut fibre, sisal fibre, mesta fibre, bamboo fibre) are laid into the slurry. The reinforcement fibres are then pressed down and the extended fibres at the edges are folded to give extra reinforcement for nailing. When the slurry becomes sufficiently hard, the board is removed and kept in the sun for drying. Gypsum Hollow tiles and light weight gypsum blocks are made similarly with the exception that some solid rods or cubes are placed in the centre of the mould before filling it with slurry to give hollowness to the finished product.

Gypsum Lath

It is another form of gypsum used in buildings. It is used as base for plaster. It is made of two types, solid and perforated. The fibres covering of lath helps in uniform suction and gives a fairly strong and durable bond with gypsum plaster. Lath can easily be nailed to studding and joints. It also does not stain plaster to create plaster marks.