10 Drywall Alternatives and Their Pros and Cons

Using drywall alternatives like wood paneling or corrugated metal is a way to differentiate your home from other interior wall designs. Many drywall alternatives offer more durability and eco-conscious choices.

Every home has unique considerations, so we’ve pulled together a list of the most popular types of drywall alternatives that work in different circumstances. By exploring all of these alternatives to drywall, homeowners can discover solutions that work for their specific needs, budget, and design goals.

Drywall alternatives

Why Choose Drywall Alternatives?

Builders choose drywall because it is inexpensive and easy to install. Even though it is common for interior walls, it is not always the best option for everyone because of certain design aesthetics or durability concerns. Drywall absorbs a lot of moisture so it is not a good wall choice for areas that are damp, like basements and closed bathrooms. In areas like this, moisture-resistant drywall alternative options like fiber cement board are more durable.

Drywall alternatives also offer you the chance to be creative with your interior design. You can consider all sorts of wall coverings, from corrugated metal to rammed earth panels and solid wood options depending on your budget, DIY skills, and longevity needs.

Popular Drywall Alternatives

There are numerous alternative drywall options, each offering unique advantages based on factors such as aesthetics, ease of installation, and environmental impact.

1. Wood Paneling

Trimming walls with wood is one of the most stylish trends in wall covering. Wood offers more warmth, texture, and interest than drywall. Wood panels are popular with farmhouse and rustic home decor styles. Wood panels also offer options for sleek and contemporary design. Some wood panel options include shiplap, beadboard, tongue and groove, reclaimed wood, and geometric patterns.


  • Aesthetic appeal – Offer a timeless, natural, and custom look that is unique from standard wall surfaces
  • Texture and depth – Give walls texture and depth, breaking up the monotony of flat walls and adding visual interest
  • Variety of styles – Takes different forms such as shiplap and beadboard surfaces to enhance a wide variety of interior styles including farmhouse, rustic, industrial, Scandi, and contemporary
  • Acoustic benefits – Help to improve the acoustics of walls because it absorbs and diffuses sound
  • Ease of installation – Easy for many DIY enthusiasts to install depending on the type and style of the panels


  • Cost – Can be expensive depending on the type and quality of the wood
  • Trend considerations – Styles such as shiplap may date your home more quickly than standard drywall designs
  • Darkening – Stained wood or reclaimed wood absorbs light and makes rooms appear darker
  • Environmental concerns – Use sustainable and conscientiously harvested wood to mitigate environmental concerns

2. Plywood

Plywood is a type of wood sheet that manufacturers create by layering thin sheets of wood together. Plywood is less expensive than wood panels because it is not solid wood. You need to pay attention to how you finish the edges of plywood panels because an open cut leaves the layers exposed.


  • Natural aesthetic – Attractive grain and texture provide a natural beauty and character
  • Affordability – Less expensive than solid wood paneling, while still giving the interior a warm and textured look
  • Strength and durability – Stronger and more durable than drywall, and less prone to damage than drywall, so it is suitable for high-traffic areas
  • Ease of installation – Easy for the average DIYer to install using nails, screws, or wall adhesive


  • Limited texture options – Does not offer the same range of textures and designs as wood panel options
  • Surface imperfections – Panels may have knots and grain irregularities that are not attractive on wall surfaces
  • Moisture sensitivity – Must be sealed so that it does not warp and expand when exposed to moisture
  • Weight – Heavier than drywall, so the surface must be able to support the extra weight

3. 3D Panel Options

3D wall panels are decorative wall panels made from diverse materials such as PVC, gypsum, metal, wood, or MDF. These panels have interesting three-dimensional designs ranging from natural-looking textures like wood panels to geometric shapes. These are popular in commercial spaces to heighten the visual interest and impact of a wall surface.


  • Visual interest – Adds depth and texture that can radically transform the style of the room
  • Design versatility – Available in a variety of forms that can work with diverse design styles
  • Easy installation – Many types designed for easy installation
  • Acoustic qualities – Can provide acoustic insulation depending on the wall panel material
  • Hides surface imperfections – Fit over a variety of wall surfaces and hide imperfections like bumpy or sloping walls


  • Cost – Can be more expensive than flat wall surface options because of intricate designs or premium material use
  • Limited coverage – All types may not be suitable for full coverage on perpendicular walls because of their dimensional texture
  • Maintenance – May need extra maintenance because the crevices and groove collect dust and debris
  • Design trends – May date more quickly than flat wall surfaces
  • Installation expertise – Some intricate wall panels will require professional installation

4. Exposed Stone, Brick, or Concrete Block

Stone, exposed brick, or a concrete block surface as a drywall alternative are popular design options. Whether it is a small accent wall or a larger portion of the main living area, the uneven character and warmth of brick, block, or stone walls provide an unmatched textural base for a room.


  • Aesthetic appeal – Add unique texture and interest to interior walls that fit a variety of design styles without ever looking dated
  • Fire resistant – Naturally fire-resistant
  • Acoustic benefits – Natural density provides good acoustic insulation
  • Durability – Ideal for high-traffic wall areas as they will not damage and will last for centuries


  • Moisture – Porous material that absorbs moisture, so sealing is necessary
  • Cost – Materials and installation is more expensive than drywall
  • Weight – Weighty materials, so the wall surface must be able to support the weight

5. Veneer Surface Options

Veneer wall options are thin layers of certain materials that homeowners can use to enhance walls. Some veneer options include materials like stone, brick, wood, tile, metal, or cork. Veneers offer a way to achieve a natural surface like stone or brick at a fraction of the cost and weight of the real thing.


  • Aesthetic variety – Allows you to replicate the surface of many wall types including stone, brick, wood, and tile.
  • Cost – Much less expensive to buy and install than authentic brick, stone, and wood
  • Weight – Lightweight compared to their authentic counterparts, requiring less structural support
  • Easy installation – Less work to install compared with true thickness material


  • Durability – Not as durable as authentic materials like brick, stone, and wood
  • Authenticity – Lack the full depth and texture of authentic materials
  • Wall preparation – Requires extensive wall preparation to get the surface flat enough to make sure the veneer adheres well to the wall

6. Concrete Options

Fans of the modern minimalist, or industrial look may be drawn to concrete interiors. Concrete wall surfaces are prefabricated and available in size options such as panels, planks, or tiles.


  • Aesthetic appeal – Enhanced design appeal for styles such as modern, contemporary, minimalist, and industrial
  • Texture – Amazing amount of textural variety including smooth, rough or imitating the surface of another material
  • Durability – Can withstand impact and wear as well as moisture and fire-resistant
  • Acoustic insulation – Density provides excellent sound insulation


  • Weight – Heavy, so they require extra support during installation and for base wall support
  • Cost – More expensive upfront due to the extra cost of materials and installation
  • Design limitations – Not as many concrete wall design options as other materials and may date sooner than drywall wall surfaces

7. Veneer Plaster

Veneer plaster walls involve coating a base wall layer with a thin layer of plaster. Thin-coat plaster walls are popular with homeowners who want to give their walls a historic style, such as Italianate or traditional. Common base wall materials include drywall but also concrete boards, cement backer boards, masonry walls, wood lathes, and fiber cement boards.


  • Seamless finish – Creates a smooth and seamless finish on base walls that results in a high-end look
  • Durability – More durable than standard drywall, naturally fire-resistant, and less prone to cracking
  • Customization – Can be customized in terms of texture, color, and sheen


  • Cost – More labor intensive and requires professional installation
  • Curing time – Requires multiple coats with a drying and curing time between each coat
  • Moisture sensitivity – Susceptible to moisture if it is not properly sealed

8. Rammed Earth Panels

Rammed earth panels are wall panels made from earth materials like soil, gravel, and sand, mixed with a stabilizing material such as cement. Rammed earth panels are prefabricated, meaning that they are made off-site and then brought to the building site and assembled into wall sections.


  • Sustainability – Panels contain locally sourced natural materials
  • Building speed – Off-site prefabrication leads to greater efficiency during the building process
  • Thermal mass and insulation – Excellent thermal mass and insulation properties which allow for greater thermal efficiency and sound control
  • Aesthetic appeal – Unique and organic appearance that showcases the colors and textures of the earth


  • Cost – Rarity, transportation, and professional assembly increase the initial cost, though will generate long-term savings
  • Complex assembly – Skilled labor is necessary for wall transportation, alignment, sealing, and finishing
  • Structural considerations – Adequate support is necessary to ensure walls are securely attached and structurally sound

9. Corrugated Metal

Corrugated metal walls are thin layers of metal with a wavy or ribbed pattern. This wall option has a distinct look that is ideal in industrial or farmhouse design styles. You can find corrugated metal in different materials, including steel, copper, and aluminum. For a more eco-conscious choice look for recycled corrugated metal sheets or panels to use on your walls.


  • Aesthetic – Unique wall material that enhances certain design styles like industrial and farmhouse
  • Durability – Highly durable, withstanding impact and abrasions
  • Variety of finishes – Available in a variety of finishes including galvanized, rusted, and painted
  • Easy installation – Easy to install
  • Recyclability – Highly recyclable, reducing its environmental impact and product sustainability


  • Heat absorption and radiation – Absorb and radiate heat which can lead to hot temperatures indoors
  • Insulation needs – Metal conducts heat, so extra insulation may be required
  • Sound transmission – Transmits and radiates sounds, so not suitable for environments where silence or quiet is desired
  • Rust and corrosion – Untreated metal will corrode over time in humid environments
  • Design constraints – Limited design style

10. Fiber Cement Panels and Boards

Fiber cement materials are a composite made from cement, sand, cellulose, fiber, and water. Builders commonly use fiber cement boards as exterior siding, but you can also use these and the panels for interior walls.


  • Durability – Highly durable to rot, moisture, fire, termites, and wear, so it can withstand harsh environments in interior and exterior spaces
  • Low Maintenance – Requires minimal maintenance such as painting and is easy to clean
  • Aesthetic variability – Variety of textures, finishes, and colors, offering some design flexibility
  • Dimensional stability – Maintains shape and appearance without warping or bending in fluctuating weather conditions
  • Sustainability – Made from recycled and sustainable materials, reducing its environmental impact


  • Weight – Heavy, so it requires extra structural support on the walls
  • Installation expertise – Requires proper installation to avoid issues such as moisture infiltration or detachment of the panels
  • Cost – More expensive to buy and install than drywall
  • Corners and edges – Requires special treatment along the corners and edges to get a polished finish
  • Style limitations – Will not suit every design style or have the same appeal and texture as natural drywall alternatives like wood or stone