Everyone in the building industry knows that fixing things to plasterboard can be a bit hit and miss. If the plasterboard is on a stud wall you may strike lucky or you may not.
Sometimes you may be able to position the item, i.e. kitchen wall cupboard to fix across two studs but nothing is guaranteed. There is, of course, a whole range of special fixings to help you overcome these problems, but it is a given that those fixings can never be stronger than the board itself.
Add to this the fact that many people perceive plasterboard to be a second rate product – when they go to look at a new home they tap the walls in search of something more solid than the hollow walls that plasterboard covers.
A great deal of this is prejudice, because plasterboard is a perfectly adequate material for many applications, but if you are looking for something that can be fixed to without those special fixings, or you want something that will take hard knocks, then plasterboard comes second to masonry.
Gyproc Habito, from British Gypsum aims to change all that. For the first time we have a plasterboard that will take a direct fixing – and when I say direct I am talking about screwing straight into it without a plug.
It also takes a hell of a lot of punishment. We knocked nine bells out of it with a claw hammer and after twenty hard blows just about dented the surface.
I can’t give you the exact recipe but Habito is made up of a number of different fibres, as well as gypsum, but the key is the density. It is highly compressed to achieve a uniform strength with no voids.
This allows you to use an ordinary woodscrew, and the load bearing on every screw is 15 kilos. There is, of course, a safety factor on that loading, but let’s deal with recommended load.
With four screws into two wall brackets you can fix a kitchen cupboard and stack it to the hilt with canned food and still be within the safe load limit.
You can also fix a very large steel radiator to the wall without plugs or worm screws. It is important that you use a conventional single thread screw, fully threaded from tip to head, because twin threaded screws remove the core material for faster fixing and therefore remove an important part of the fixing strength.
That is how you fix to Habito, but how do you fix the board to the wall? If it is a stud wall you need to use a British Gypsum High Performance Fixing that has an undercut on the head.
If you use an ordinary drywall screw it tends to have difficulty sinking the head below the surface because Habito is so tough. If you are dotting and dabbing onto masonry there is no difference in the procedure you normally use, but the board is capable of taking a huge loading.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that applying Habito to a block wall could stiffen it considerably, and also improve the sound resistance.
I don’t imagine there are many people out there (including British Gypsum’s competitors) who could fail to see the advantages of Habito once they have been pointed out but the manufacturer has its work cut out to communicate these advantages.
If, for example, you are a plumber you would need to be able to identify the board in order to take advantage of enhanced fixing capability. In new build or refurbs, where the builder is communicating with the plumber they can pass the information on, but down the line there is no way of readily identifying that the board is Gyproc Habito.
Somewhere down the line trades may be able to tap the board and hear the difference. You can certainly feel the difference when you lift it, and when you cut it you need to score it and give it a quick up and down to snap it. If you are cutting narrow strips you might need a saw, but if you use sound-board or fire-board you will already know about this change in approach.
If you are a builder looking to build in a bit of extra quality, or you have a customer who is a wall tapper, then Gyproc Habito is certainly worth a try. It is a cut above the run-of-the-mill plasterboard and, once you use it, you may well develop the Habito habit.
It could even become a signature of your work – something that sets you apart from the average builder who builds on price alone.
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