It's not that we don't install drywall, it's that we don't install drywall in homes. It is in fact commonly found in commercial applications, maybe it's faster? Or cheaper? All I know is every house I have known to be renovated or built has been plastered, but we're in a small Boston, Massachusetts market.
Whats the process? Just like drywall, you're installing a gypsum board, its usually a dark gray and often times referred to as blue board. Why is it a different color? Different formula in the paper to allow the plaster veneer to adhere to it. Second difference, we're using a mesh tape on all of the seams, and if you're savvy your hitting the screw heads, it's cheap insurance to help prevent those screw pops. We call the first coat a "scratch coat" basically hitting everywhere you've just installed tape. Second coat of plaster is troweled and unlike drywall mud you're skimming known as "veneering" the entire surface. Working the product across the entire area, getting a consistent, even and flat coat. Similar to how you work concrete as it chemically cures, you're going to work the plaster as it chemically cures, troweling the surface in opposing directions.
Since we don't install drywall, and have never I'm going to avoid comparing them in the follow claims. A plaster finish has an extremely hard surface, being a lime based material it cures rock hard; just how hard? USG Imperial has a rating of 3000psi yes similar to you're average concrete mix. Dry time is extended, depends on the type of plaster, but requires several days before the walls can be primed, and they absolutely must be primed before any raw materials are installed against it; like baseboard and other interior moldings. Raw plaster emits moisture as it cures and can cause issues, like any moisture in raw materials.
Check out the Episode we filmed with Molly Hanson (Assistant Project Manager) for a further look into the steps we take to get a "perfect" wall and ceiling finish.
*Disclaimer there is many different ways to install these products and this is not intended to be a how-to, simply sharing the process for those unaware of what we would consider a superior finish to drywall.