Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels: Multi-Family Homes

Helping protect walls from impact damage and wall cavity penetration

1. Workout/Exercise Room
Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels increase wall surface and core durability against damage.

Physical Description
Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panel products are manufactured with a special high-density, mold- and moisture-resistant, Type X core laminated front and back with either heavyweight-paper facers or durable fiberglass mats. An additional reinforcing fiberglass mesh is embedded into the panel’s core near the back of the board to give it increased resistance to penetration. Long edges are wrapped with the facer material to give them added damage protection and tapered to make finishing easier while short edges are cut square. The dimensions of Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are typically 5/8” (15.9 mm) thick, 48” (1220 mm) wide and 8’ (2440 mm) to 12’ (3660 mm) long. Paper-faced panels are available with facer materials containing high percentages of recycled fiber and panel cores that include recycled gypsum content are increasingly common. The applicable product manufacturing standard is ASTM C1629.

Advantages and Benefits
Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are a specialty application product designed to deliver specific wall protection properties in multi-family projects as well as a broad list of valuable additional features and benefits.

o Construction Efficiency – Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels make it easier and more cost efficient to construct interior walls capable of handling elevated levels of bumps, blows and abuse more efficiently than alternative building materials like masonry or engineered composite panels. Its installation simplicity, speed and lower initial cost help save design time, labor and cut time off the delivery schedule. In addition, adding, removing or remodeling walls and ceilings in the future is easier and less costly with Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels.

o Wall Performance – Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels provide tested toughness against multiple forms of potential damage including surface wear and abrasions, minor indentations and both soft- and hard-body impacts. This makes an ideal option for wall construction in multi-family hallways, common areas and stairwells where the movement of people, furniture and belongings make surfaces more vulnerable to periodic collisions.

o Maintenance Simplicity – When necessary, repairs to surface damage and even forceful impacts are easier to make with a gypsum panel product than other alternatives. Using common tools, techniques and basic carpentry skills, panels can be successfully repaired or replaced quickly and cost efficiently.

o Mold and Moisture Protection – Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are tough against mold and moisture, too. Their core and facers are treated to resist water absorption and infiltration and their enhanced anti-microbial additives provide high tested levels of resistance to mold growth to help protect wall system integrity in multi-family, multi-unit structures.

o Fire Resistance – Because Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are made with a non-combustible Type X core and are UL-classified for use in any fire-rated assembly where a 5/8” Type X panel is approved, they can be a key component in the fire-protection strategy of multi-family developments. Refer to GA-600 Fire Resistance and Sound Control Design Manual. Consult with gypsum manufacturer for specific recommendations.

o Noise Reduction – To reduce the transmission of unwanted noise from room to room and floor to floor in multi-tenant residential structures, specify Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels as a component of a tested sound control assembly anywhere 5/8” gypsum wallboard panels are listed. These panels can help provide a range of performance values depending on the level of sound attenuation required. Refer to GA-600 Fire Resistance and Sound Control Design Manual. Consult with gypsum manufacturer for specific recommendations. more

o Finishing Flexibility – Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels offer the same finishing and decorating flexibility as traditional drywall panels.

Damage-Resistance Classifications
To provide a way of comparing the expected performance of different brands of Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels, laboratory tests are conducted in accordance to ASTM C1629 to simulate typical wear that might be experienced in a multi-family application. Product samples are exposed to four different potentially damaging forces on specially designed test equipment and ranked into one of three different classifications based on the degree of damage each sample sustains.

o Surface Abrasion – Measures the ability of a gypsum panel’s facer to resist surface scratches and scuffs by exposing the panel to a 25 lb. weighted wire brush held against the sample’s surface while the sample is moved back and forth 50 times. Based on the depth of the abrasion at the conclusion of the test cycle, the board is assigned to one of three classification levels.

Classification LevelMax. Abrasion Depth
10.126″ (3.2mm)
20.59″ (1.5mm)
30.010″ (0.3mm)

o Surface Indentation – Measures the ability of a gypsum panel to resist dents caused by small, hard objects by exposing the panel to the impact of a round-tipped rod. Based on the depth of the indentation the impact causes, the board is assigned to one of three classification levels.

Classification LevelMax. Indentation Depth
10.150″ (3.8mm)
20.100″ (2.5mm)
30.050″ (1.3mm)

o Soft-Body Impact – Measures the ability of a gypsum panel to resist a single impact from a heavy soft object by exposing a sample panel to the impact of a swinging leather bag loaded with steel pellets. Based on the energy required to fracture the panel calculated from the leather bag’s weight and drop height, the board is assigned to one of three classification levels.

Classification LevelMin. Fracture Energy
190 ft·lbf (122 J)
2195 ft·lbf (265 J)
3300 ft·lbf (408 J)

o Hard-Body Impact – Measures the ability of a gypsum panel to resist the impact of a hard object by exposing a sample panel to the impact of a steel cylinder on a pendulum. Based on the amount of force required for the cylinder to penetrate through the panel, the sample is assigned to one of three classification levels.

Classification LevelMin. Penetration Energy
150 ft·lbf (68 J)
2100 ft·lbf (136 J)
3150 ft·lbf (204 J)

Gypsum panel performance characteristics vary slightly by manufacturer. Consult with the gypsum manufacturer you are considering for the specific classification levels that pertain to your project goals.

To deliver the expected wall durability demanded by a multi-tenant residential structure’s design requirements, a number of important limitations should be followed. These recommendations are intended to provide general information only about considerations that are common in this category of special performance gypsum products:

o Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are intended for interior use only
o Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels are nonstructural and are not designed to be a fastener base for mounting other materials
o maximum framing spacing should be no greater than 16” (406 mm) o.c.
o avoid exposure to prolonged temperatures exceeding 125°
o do not apply finish to Impact-Resistant Gypsum Panels before structure is properly closed
o not intended for constant exposure to moisture, ponding or cascading water

Refer to the document GA-216 Application And Finishing Of Gypsum Panel Products for more specific information.

Products vary by brand. For more specific limitations related to the gypsum panel you are considering, consult with the product’s manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to typical questions our technical experts address on a routine basis. These answers may provide additional information you are seeking as well. To submit an inquiry of your own, click here.

1. I’m a little confused. Where should I use abuse-resistant wallboard and where should I use impact-resistant wallboard?

Many designers find that either board will work fine in areas that are subject to a little more “wear and tear.” However, there are some differences to keep in mind when selecting the best board for your application. For example, boards classified as abuse resistant typically have higher abrasion and indentation resistance (meaning a classification level of 2 or 3 per ASTM C1629 for both). Boards that are impact resistant would have similar classification levels for the hard and soft body tests in C1629.
So, is it more likely that the wall could be regularly “side-swiped” by a cart, an individual wielding a suitcase, or someone carelessly carrying a package? Or is it more likely someone might hit the wall “full-on” with a large object as might happen where a hallway terminates into another corridor in a hospital? If the answer is “side-swiped”, you should probably consider abuse resistant boards. If the answer is “full-on,” then you may wish to choose impact resistant to reduce the likelihood of penetration into the wall cavity.

2. How does the installation of impact-resistant board differ from that of regular wallboard?

Both impact-resistant and abuse-resistant boards have the same basic installation considerations. The latest edition of GA-216 requires that when abuse-resistant and impact-resistant boards are mounted on steel studs, those studs must be .0312″ design thickness (aka 30 mil) or thicker. The reason is that these boards are denser and harder than traditional wallboard. Because more force is needed for screws to penetrate these harder and denser boards, with thinner gauge studs there is a higher likelihood of spinout occurring. Simply stated, the combination of harder board and thinner stud leads to unacceptable rates of spinout and a much lower tolerance for variability in the field, where conditions are never ideal. Aside from this, the taping, finishing, etc. of abuse and impact resistant panels is no different from similar non-resistant counterparts, though it may take a sharper knife and a little more effort to “cut and snap” abuse resistant and impact resistant boards.