Gypsum has many common uses in construction, including sheetrock, cement and as an ingredient of plaster. It is also used as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. It has even been used in ancient times as a replacement for wood when deforestation made building material hard to obtain.
Between 1910 and 1930, sheetrock was developed using thick paper wrapped on opposites sides of gypsum panels. This was used to line interior walls of buildings and was preferred to the older method of placing plaster on the walls using trowel. Sheetrock greatly reduced the amount of time and labor it took build a home.
Gypsum is an ingredient used in Portland Cement. Because of its physical makeup, it slows the hardening of cement. This allows the cement to be used much more easily than if it hardened at its regular speed.
Gypsum plaster or plaster of Paris is a building material created by heating gypsum to 150 degrees Celsius. The mixture is ground gypsum mixed with water and heated, then released as steam. The mixture then cools and reforms as gypsum.
Gypsum is often used as a fertilizer and soil supplement. It can be used to soften hard layers of soil such as clay to make the ground more workable. This also allows the soil to drain better and become less soggy.