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Gypsum Board

A wide variety of gypsum board application methods are available to meet virtually any need in building design and construction. Gypsum board is applied in either single-layer or multi-layer systems to achieve specific fire or sound ratings. Gypsum board is applied over wood or steel framing or furring. It is also applied to masonry or concrete surfaces, either laminated directly or attached to wood furring strips or steel furring channels. Gypsum board ceilings can be directly attached to joists or trusses or attached to furring or grid systems suspended below structural members.

However, even the best gypsum board application cannot compensate for an inadequate or unsatisfactory substrate, or for extreme environmental conditions. Gypsum board will not straighten warped or twisted framing, nor will it smooth uneven masonry or concrete surfaces. The quality of gypsum board applications is largely dependent on the accurate alignment of the framing or furring to which the gypsum board is attached. Before application of the gypsum board begins, the framing or furring to which it is to be attached should be inspected for straightness, stability, and alignment. Warped or twisted wood framing or furring, or bent steel framing or furring, may cause joints to be misaligned or fasteners to pop and should be repaired or replaced. Green lumber or wood containing excessive moisture, over 15%, can result in fastener pops, joint misalignment, and cracking from warping or twisting as the wood dries.

All ends and edges of gypsum board except those oriented at right angles to framing members or furring should be located over framing members or other solid backing. Gypsum board is generally attached to the framing with nails, screws, or staples. Although nails are commonly used in wood frame construction, screws are often preferred because they are applied with automatic screw guns, have excellent holding power, and reduce the possibility of nail pops. A combination of nails and screws may also be used, with nails along edges and screws in the field. Staples are used because they are economical and can be quickly applied with staple guns; however, the use of staples should be limited to the base-layer in multi-layer systems or to gypsum sheathing on wood framing.

Gypsum board wall and ceiling surfaces are typically decorated with paint, texture, wallpaper, tile, or paneling. When pre-decorated gypsum board is used, joints are generally covered with matching molding or battens; no additional finishing or decoration is necessary.

Single-Layer Application

Single-layer gypsum board applications are the most common in light commercial and in residential construction. These systems rely on one layer of gypsum board attached to framing or furring. Although single-layer gypsum board systems are generally adequate to meet most minimum requirements for fire resistance and sound control, multi-layer systems are preferred for higher quality construction and to upgrade beyond the "bare minimums" of many code requirements.

Multi-Layer Application

Multi-layer systems have two or more layers of gypsum board and are used to meet higher sound and fire resistance requirements or to enhance these comfort and safety qualities beyond minimum code requirements. They also provide better surface quality because face layers can often be laminated over base layers eliminating many or all of the fasteners in the face layer. In addition, face-layer joints are stronger by virtue of the continuous backing provided by the base layers. Nail pops and ridging are less frequent and imperfectly aligned framing has less effect on the quality of the finished surface.