When it comes to choosing the right building material, this decision depends upon numerous factors. Understandably, you want something durable, high-quality, reliable, and strong for your projects.
While gypcrete and concrete have certain similarities in some areas, there are some significant differences that could help you make the best choice for your home. However, before making this decision, it is important to fully understand the function of each.
In this guide, we will not only introduce both options in detail, but we will also emphasize all the important similarities and differences between the two so you can easily make a comparison.
What is Gypcrete?
Let’s start with the option that some people may not be as familiar with, which is gypcrete. Gypcrete is essentially a combination of sand, Portland cement, and gypsum, and it is commonly used for floor underlayment, as well as sound insulation.
The gypcrete mix also has an important role in fire control, which is precisely why many people gravitate towards this option. Due to similarities between concrete and gypcrete, gypcrete is also often referred to as lightweight concrete.
Since it is a lightweight floor leveler, it is a common subflooring option, as the weight of gypcrete makes it extremely easy to work with. When it comes to flooring types that are compatible with gypcrete, the best option would be carpeting.
As with any other type of subflooring, it is crucial to check the compatibility of the material with the flooring of your choice. One of the biggest limitations of gypcrete is that it isn’t compatible with many flooring options – especially the nail-down flooring.
Nail-down options such as hardwood don’t work as well with gypcrete, being that it has a gritty surface which isn’t the ideal base for this kind of flooring. Also, it is more prone to breaking and it isn’t as heavy-duty as concrete, which can withstand great pressure.
Another thing to keep in mind about gypcrete flooring is that it must be installed by a professional. Also, if there are any cracks or other defects, it is necessary to contact a professional to repair the damage.
It is safe to say that gypcrete isn’t suitable for DIY projects unless you have some experience in installing it. After all, you want to make sure it is properly installed, which will definitely contribute to its functionality and durability.
Also, it is necessary to point out the fact that gypcrete, when used as a subflooring option, is not a structural material. It is mostly spread out in a very thin layer, just enough to create a level, even base for your flooring, but it does not add any structure.
What is concrete?
While concrete is a commonly known and widely used building material with countless applications, there are some facts about it that you may not be aware of. Therefore, let’s talk a bit about its uses and overall functionality.
Concrete is made by combining crushed rock or gravel with natural sand, aggregates, and a hydraulic binder such as Portland cement. The mixture is then combined by adding water until the composition becomes dense enough to work with.
The main characteristic of concrete and the main reason many people rely on it in their projects is its strength. Concrete has the properties of a rock, hence the name artificial rock, and it is extremely durable and strong.
Concrete is, without a doubt, the most popular building material, and it can endure great pressure and compression. Even though it is generally quite dense and strong, concrete can also be flexible when it comes to shaping and installing it.
When it comes to reliability, it is enough to state that, in 99% of cases, if cement cracks, the issue isn’t in the quality and durability of the material itself, but in the installing technique and other construction-related factors.
Another advantage of concrete over many other building materials is that it is extremely inexpensive. For such a low price, you get strength, durability, and reliability that are hardly matched.
What’s more, as opposed to gypcrete, concrete is suitable for DIY projects, and even semi-experienced people could make it and use it for numerous applications without having to contact a professional.
The downside of this material is surely the weight, which can make it hard to disburse it evenly, depending on the project. Also, when it comes to its role as a binding material, it has a rather low tensile strength, and it isn’t as ductile.
What is the difference between concrete and Gypcrete?
Both cement and gypcrete have multiple applications and offer a wide array of uses. As similar, as they can be in certain aspects, there are important differences that will help you make up your mind and make the best decision for your home.
1. Water resistance
The first difference between gypcrete topping and concrete is that concrete is more suitable for areas exposed to water. While concrete is usually not 100% waterproof, it is very much water-resistant.
However, keep in mind that the level of water resistance of concrete largely depends upon the level of dryness and hardness. There are certain additional ingredients, such as Cement Mix and Zementmix, that could make the concrete mixture waterproof.
Nonetheless, this can be rather tricky, as these ingredients do not protect the surface of the concrete, making it susceptible to bacteria, dirt, and accumulated moisture. If this happens, the structure of the concrete could be compromised by algae, lichens, and similar harmful factors.
Gypcrete, on the other hand, is not the best choice for water exposure, as it becomes soluble in water. Therefore, this could seriously jeopardize the structure of stability of your floor when using gypcrete as a subflooring material.
2. Compressive strength
When it comes to compressive strength, you could already assume that concrete takes the win in this category, as well. As we’ve explained, concrete is made to withstand great pressure, and it will not crack even when you nail down the flooring of choice.
Gypcrete, on the other hand, is not suitable for the nail-down type of flooring such as hardwood, as it could easily break. Also, due to its brittle structure, it would probably not be able to hold the nail.
3. Ease of installation
Creating a good gypcrete mixture, as well as installing it properly, isn’t something that can be done without professional help. Also, in the event of any damage, cracks, or defects, you will have to contact a professional to repair the damage.
Concrete, on the other hand, is a great choice for your DIY projects, if you don’t want to deal with handymen and pay extra for installation. Also, making a quality concrete mixture is mostly considered common knowledge.
4. Sound insulation
If you need sound insulation and this is one of your main concerns, gypcrete is definitely a better option. Gypcrete is known to dampen sounds and provide more security in this matter.
Concrete, on the other hand, lacks the sound dampening properties you will get from gypcrete, so keep that in mind when making your final decision.
When it comes to gypcrete cost, it varies depending on the ingredients you use for the mixture. Generally, if you choose high-quality components, the price will surely be higher. Keep in mind that gypcrete is generally applied in a thin layer, so you won’t need much.
Concrete, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest options, and it is a number one choice for bigger projects that require a great quantity of material. Also, a little bit of concrete mixture goes a long way.
As we’ve mentioned previously, gypcrete is also known as lightweight concrete, which means it shares a lot of its characteristics, but it is much lighter – and therefore, easier to work with.
While gypcrete usually weighs around 13lbs per square foot, concrete weighs much more – usually around 18lbs per square foot.
When it comes to energy efficiency and holding the heat better and longer, it is safe to say that concrete takes the win. However, there is one reason why people often choose gypcrete if they have floor heating systems.
With concrete, metal tubes tend to shrink or corrode, which is a big issue for your floor heating systems. This is precisely why gypcrete is considered to be a better choice for subflooring in homes with floor heating.
8. Bonding with vinyl-coated wood
We’ve already explained how gypcrete doesn’t really work with numerous choices of flooring, especially the nail-down kind, since it tends to be brittle. However, if you intend to install vinyl-coated wood, gypcrete is definitely a better choice than concrete.
While concrete bonds with other materials, it does not adhere to the vinyl-coated wood as well as gypcrete, and it isn’t as secure since the bond isn’t strong.
9. Structural support
While gypcrete, when properly installed, provides an ideal layer of underlayment, and it is an excellent floor leveler, it is not a structural element and you cannot rely on it to provide any structure and stability.
Concrete, on the other hand, is used precisely for its structural strength and reliability. If that is your focus, you should definitely go with concrete. On the other hand, if you need a lightweight floor leveler, gypcrete is a better solution.
10. Resistance & durability
In the light of everything that’s been said about concrete, you can easily conclude that if your main focus is resistance and durability, concrete is a better choice than Gypcrete.
That’s mainly because Gypcrete is not born to be a building material, unlike concrete, so if you’re looking for something reliable and resistant over time, concrete is your best bet. This is also true for abrasion which can happen over time.
Gypcrete or concrete: which one is better?
In case you want a lightweight material that will provide a thin, flexible, even underlayment for your flooring, gypcrete is a great option. It is also the number one choice when it comes to soundproofing, floor heating, and fire resistance.
Concrete, on the other hand, is stronger and more durable, doesn’t require professional installation, and is suitable for more types of flooring and different installation techniques. Also, it is highly water-resistant, easily installed, and overall a safer option.