What is Gypcrete? Pros & Cons of Gypcrete vs Concrete
You are evaluating your choices for a new floor, you just stumbled on gypcrete and are now wondering what gypcrete is and how it ranks against concrete. Well, the popularity of gypcrete has skyrocketed recently as homeowners and property managers are looking for lightweight floors with fire control features. To your surprise, gypcrete fits perfectly in this role compared to normal concrete.
However, concrete and gypcrete are popular construction materials often used by designers and architects in multi-story buildings. But with more options in hand, the selection process becomes daunting, especially when all qualify for your scenario.
So, if you’re stuck in a perplexing situation and want some thoughtful comparison between concrete and gypcrete; here’re some useful insights:
What is Gypcrete?
Like concrete, Gypcrete or gypsum concrete is a composite mixture of cementitious and filler materials. It is made with a fixed ratio of sand, Portland cement, and gypsum plaster.
Let me assume you’re familiar with concrete; you might already point out the difference in constituents, that is, the use of aggregate. In normal concrete, the significant share of weight is due to aggregate. But in gypcrete, we have gypsum plaster, a lightweight material famous for its application in drywall.
One of the biggest pros of gypcrete is its lightweight, which makes it extremely easy to work with. It is a popular subflooring option ideal for adhesive-type flooring like carpeting. But still, it is best to be sure that the flooring is compatible with gypcrete.
Gypcrete provides a smooth and fire-rated subfloor-ready surface. The installation of Gypcrete is not a DIY venture, and it needs proper mixing and pouring application followed by a smoother one that requires expert hands.
Depending on the type of existing surface you have in your room, you might have to brush off dirt and dust followed by applying primer on the exposed surface.
The next step is preparing the mix as per the instructions. Once the mixture is ready, it is poured onto the floor through the hose attached to a pump, and the hose is swept slowly to cover the entire area evenly with gypcrete.
Once the pouring is finished, the top surface is smoothened by sweeping a float trowel.
The finished surface is ready for foot traffic after 90 minutes of finish. The freshly finished gypcrete subfloor needs controlled moisture and temperature for drying.
The thickness of the gypcrete subfloor depends on the type of underlayment. For an existing rough concrete surface, 1/2 “would be sufficient, but for a tongue-and-groove wooden subfloor, you have to achieve ¾” to have a smooth, even surface.
Gypcrete vs. Concrete
Although gypcrete and concrete offer many benefits and have multiple applications, there’re considerable differences. So, let’s find out how gypcrete differs from concrete as it will help you make the right decision for your flooring.
The most significant difference between concrete and gypcrete is related to their weight. Gypcrete weighs about 13 pounds per square foot, while concrete weighs 18 pounds per square foot. So, lightweight gypcrete is an ideal floor underlayment and is much easier to work with.
Using radiant heat in concrete floors is not a recommended combination. The metal tubes tend to shrink or corrode, which will compromise the overall quality of flooring. On the other hand, Gypcrete is a better choice for subflooring in homes with floor heating. However, concrete is a preferred choice in terms of energy efficiency and retaining heat.
Another common reason for homeowners preferring gypcrete over concrete is its sound dampening properties. The concrete mix have superior sound insulation, which is sometimes a significant characteristic of a flooring system.
Homeowners are a bit worried while picking a floor for areas exposed to water. That’s rightly so because a good floor needs to be water-resistant. Though porous and not waterproof, concrete still has far superior water-resistive properties than gypcrete topping. The latter quickly becomes soluble in water upon exposure, so the floor’s stability is compromised. Hence concrete is the best choice for durable and reliable flooring.
Concrete vs Gypcrete Strength
Although both concrete and gypcrete are made with Portland cement, they still show different compressive strengths. Because of aggregate and filler ingredients, concrete offers excellent resistance against compressive forces. It doesn’t crack while you nail down the flooring of choice, unlike gypcrete.
Ease of Use
Concrete ingredients being readily available and easy to mix don’t need some high-end equipment and skills for installation. Whereas for the gypcrete, you should engage a professional who knows better the mixing procedure and gives a smooth finishing. So, gypcrete is not a DIY project, and you might have to pay extra for installation.
Both the flooring choices also differ in price. Although, there’s no sure short figure for prices as it depends a lot on the quality of components and the scope of work.
However, concrete is surely a cheaper option for covering large areas due to the ease of installation and availability of ingredients. Gypcrete is less expensive than pouring an entirely new concrete slab for covering small areas.
Gypcrete Pros and Con
Now that you’re familiar with the differences between concrete and gypcrete, it’s time to highlight some pros and cons of gypcrete:
- The biggest pro of gypcrete is its fire resistance, and it offers a one to two hours fire barrier that not only slows down the progress of fire but also allows residents to escape.
- Because of the lightweight gypcrete, you can have reduced pressure on the building’s framework making it more secure and stable.
- The gypcrete installation doesn’t need days or weeks. You can complete a 20,000 sq. ft of flooring in a single day, and you can start applying finishing touches to the surface after 48 hours of installation. The quick installation will also minimize disruption and downtime to use your property quickly.
- Gypcrete offers unique benefits in terms of sound reduction, floor leveling, and the use of radiant heating.
- Gypcrete is prone to cracking, so you can’t use it as an underlayment for all types of flooring. You need to find an adhesive-type flooring solution compatible with the gypcrete-like carpet.
- The gypcrete may get cracked when compacted or impacted by a hard floor like ceramic tile because of lack of durability.
So, you see both concrete and gypcrete stand as valuable building materials, but both don’t share the same applications. Hence it is crucial to identify your project specifics and choose the right type of material.
- Concrete is best for any structural application. If you need a brand-new structure like a driveway, sidewalks, floors, foundation, or load-bearing walls, you should go for concrete.
- Go for Gypcrete, if you’re looking for fire-rated or soundproofing flooring or want to have radiant heating on the floor, gypcrete is the material of choice. Gypcrete implies a floor underlayment that you need to use with compatible flooring.