Give the walls a tap – They might be dry lined

Dry lining is one of those building practices that is commonly known, but little understood.

To know if your home has been dry lined just requires a little tap of the knuckles against the wall. If it rings hollow then the wall has been lined. If it sounds solid and your knuckles hurt then it is still a solid masonry wall!

Knowing this is really important.

Why? Well walls are normally dry lined for a reason. Not many people think – “I want to go through some extra expense and disruption at home just for the heck of it”. The main reason why walls are dry-lined is because they are damp. Hence the term dry lining. This is one job that does what is says. It creates a dry lining for your home. It does not even attempt to solve the problem, just covers it over so that you cannot see it. For some, landlords and people trying to get a good price for a damp house, this is a great system. Relatively cheap, easy and, due to general ignorance, no real complaints from tenants or major price reduction demands from new owners. So all is well?

Not really. Our homes can really suffer from dry lining:

  • Walls that were dry lined due to damp, remain damp. Damp walls transmit heat better, thus making your home more costly to run;
  • Mould grows in the cool moist environment behind the lining and can spread their spores through gaps in the lining;
  • Mice and rats can find ready made homes behind the lining and spend their time chewing through wires etc;
  • Any structural problems remain hidden behind the mask of the plasterboard lining;
  • Joists that are embedded in the walls can rot quicker in the damp environment;
  • Hanging heavy objects on plasterboard is not as secure as fixing into solid masonry;
  • Lots of dry-lining is done with dot and dab fixing. This can fail in a fire and be even more dangerous for you, your family and the fire service;
  • Most dry lining is also not sealed properly and hence warm moist air can get behind it, condense on the cooler walls and create more damp problems for the house;
  • …….

The ideal solution is that you fix the problem that the house has properly. This might save you a lot of money both in the short and long term. The damp might just be coming from a broken gutter, or cracked render, or an internal leak. So find out the cause of any problem before embarking on any dry lining. If you house is already dry lined it is worth spending a bit more time finding out why and trying to find any root cause. Even though the problem is hidden, it probably has not gone away.

So be careful and aware of dry lining and always find out what the initial problem was and resolve it, if at all possible.