An introduction to drylining

Drylining is a finishing trade and requires installation by specialist contractors. The specialist contractor will provide the high levels of management, operative skills and resources essential to delivering a high-quality product. Their considerable experience on similar projects will be of significant assistance to the construction team. System manufacturers design and produce drylining systems, which are then tested to meet the requirements for various environmental and performance levels. The provision of a whole range of design solutions is part of the responsibilities taken by manufacturers, who have a key role to play in drylining design.

Drylining partitions and Metal Furring (MF) ceilings are an integral part of many fit-outs, offering fire and acoustic perforamance as well as making a major contribution to the overall appearance and quality of the finished space. However, for the completed drylining to meet the legitimate expectations of the building owner, occupier, design professionals and construction team, the selection and installation process must be carefully considered and understood by all parties.

Advice to contractors

Correctly fitted drylining systems can provide high levels of fire protection, fire resistance, sound insulation and thermal insulation.  The correct design and installation are essential to ensure these performances are achieved. The relative weight of drylined systems compared with blockwork, the versatility, speed of erection, fire, acoustic and thermal performance make drylining a popular choice in construction across residential, commercial, retail, medical and educational building types.

Drylining should always be fitted to the manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with The FIS Best Practice Guide: Installation of Drylining (see below).  This guide is primarily concerned with the design and installation of internal, non-loadbearing drylining constructions using gypsum plasterboard on rigid metal framework.  It does, however, also include descriptions of other non-plasterboard options, such as calcium silicate board, which can be used in drylined systems. This guide includes drylined partitions, linings and fire protection. Drylined ceilings are covered in the FIS Best Practice Guide – Installation of Suspended Ceilings (more information available here).  This guide provides useful information on a variety of disciplines involved in the design, management and installation of drylining systems, such as architects, engineers, main contractors, subcontract supervision and operatives. The installation and design of the proprietary drylined systems will vary from one manufacturer to another, so reference should always be made to the manufacturer’s technical literature for current methods of installation.

For an Introduction to the Best Practice Guide: Installation of Drylining click here

For the full FIS Best Practice Guide: Installation of Drylining click here (Members Only)

Drylining Quality Checklist – This quality check list for drylining has been produced by members of the FIS drylining working group to help members assess risk during the project and provide a detailed quality check list throughout the installation process.  It has been  designed to encompass a wide and detailed range of question which you may choose to consolidate depending on the performance of the drylining, the evidence you have been asked or wish to provide and the known experience and competency of the teams.

Advice for specifiers

A number of factors will need to be known when selecting the correct materials and drylined system to be used. Such factors are fire protection, fire resistance, acoustic performance, thermal performance, stability and the environment to which the finished products will be subject. Other factors, such as duty ratings and maximum height, will also be an important factor when determining the correct system (see section 6.2). Before commencing works, the site conditions for the construction of the works should be watertight, weatherproof and dry and the correct materials specified. Plastering and taping and jointing should only take place in dry conditions and where the minimum temperature can be maintained above 5ºC. It should be noted that plaster and plasterboard will be damaged if subjected to temperatures in excess of 49ºC – for example, adjacent to open or closed multi-fuel burners – and alternative finishing methods should be employed.

BS 8212 states a number of factors that can influence the choice of a drylining system and these should be considered. This guide uses these factors and includes some additional factors to be considered in this revised list:

  • Fire protection, fire resistance required
  • Sound insulation
  • Thermal insulation
  • Current legislation
  • Building type, occupancy and use
  • Maximum height of the system
  • BS or BS EN fire test standards
  • Thickness of the drylined system
  • Provision of services
  • Loadings to be carried by the system
  • Loading of the system on the structure
  • Building deflection and movement
  • Exposure to knocks and abrasions (durability)
  • Decoration
  • Temperature and humidity conditions
  • Tolerances of the background structure
  • Programming and sequence of the works
  • Space utilisation (optimum use of space)

All the above factors should be understood by the designer. In addition, consulting with the manufacturer literature when specifying the works should advise which products are suitable for the various applications.

For a basic introduction to drylining and common terminology click here 

Setting Out And Installation Tolerances

Technical Note – Specifying Partitioning

10 key points for writing a smart specification

Technical Note – Standards for Plaster Finish

Technical Note – Fire, Walls and Penetrations FAQs

Technical Note – Methods to label Fire Rated Partitions

Technical Note – Third Party Certification

Plasterboard – A margin of error

Finishes and Interiors Sector CPD Hub

FIS Members are regularly vetted against a strict code of conduct, to find a member of the FIS click here

FIS are happy to support the specification marketplace, so if you any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the FIS team.

Additional technical resources

Inspecting Drylining

Download the FIS Best Practice Drylining Inspection Checklist here

Plywood Pattresses 

Plywood Pattresses are used as a backing support for many ceiling tile and drylining applications. But is ply the right choice? What are the implications? Is there a right way? And are there any alternatives? 

Click here for more information (members only) 

Robust Details  

The FIS has worked with Robust Details to focus on instances where the resilient layer used to reduce structural sound transference between residences on different floors is being cut before the installation of the drylining. This is having a significant impact on the acoustic performance, and we have been asked to advise the sector of the correct method of installation where this resilient layer is present. 

The resilient layer will be present around the perimeter of a room where a screed has been installed and should be placed against the floor prior to the installation of the drylining, any skirting should be installed prior to trimming any resilient layer still showing before sealing with acoustic sealant. 

Robust Details has provided a technical note (which includes links to clear and informative videos explaining this process.  Should there be any doubt please consult with Robust Details or the site manger before removing any resilient layer on site. 

For more information on Robust Details relating to Drylining click here (members only) 

Managing Penetrations: 

It is impossible to construct and divide a building without the service runs of pipes, ducts and conduit going through a wall or partition at some point. However, holes in walls cause big problems. if mishandled penetrations can seriously compromise the structural, fire and/or acoustic performance of partitions. So what is the best method of build? should the partitions be constructed first or should service runs be installed and the partitions built around them?

To assist in the design, specification and installation of building services penetrations to ensure fire compartmentation is maintained, five leading not-for-profit organisations have launched a Best Practice Design and Installation Guide, Firestopping of Service Penetrations. 

Factsheet to Address Potential Confusion over Service Openings in Drylining (members only)

FIS is leading a working group including BESA and ASFP looking at creating new procedures around managing service penetrations, for more information email

The Fire Performance Labelling Scheme is a partnership between the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) and FIS. Printed on 60m rolls of self-adhesive tape, the labels will be available from the main distributors of fire-rated partition systems. This simple scheme will ensure that retrofit contractors are aware when a partition is a barrier designed to provide protection from fire and prevent its spread, and that any penetration must be made good to maintain its performance.

For information on the FIS Fire Labelling click here

For the FIS FAQ covering penetrations click here

Here, six industry experts give their opinions… (Members Only)

Spray Finishes – are they the future? 

Common on the continent, spray finishes are emerging as an alternative finishing method, but are they the future.  

Click here for more information (members only) 

British and European drylining standards

Relevant Standards

BS 1230-1:1985 – Gypsum plasterboard. Specification for plasterboard excluding materials submitted to secondary operations

BS 8212:1995 – Code of practice for dry lining and partitioning using gypsum plasterboard (this standard is currently under review, the working group is chaired by the FIS)

BS 8000-8:1994 Workmanship on building sites: Code of practice for plasterboard partitions and drylinings

BS 5234-1:1992 Partitions (including matching linings). Code of practice for design and installation

BS 5234-2:1992 Partitions (including matching linings). Specification for performance requirements for strength and robustness including methods of test

If you have questions about the details within these standards, please contact the FIS Technical Team on 0121 707 0077 or email: 

NB: FIS is currently involved in the review of BS8000-8:1994 – looking at finishes and tolerences, this is being managed through the Drylining Working Group 

Drylining Working Group Page

FIS has an active drylining working group that brings together the wider supply chain to focus in driving quality, safety, productivity and burning market issues.  You can find out more about this group and how to get involved here.

FIS is also supporting a working group focussed on managing penetrations in buildings, for more information on this activity, contact the FIS team.

Improving sustainability in the supply chain

Waste plasterboard can readily be reprocessed into its constituent parts – gypsum and paper. The reprocessed gypsum has use in a variety of applications which currently use natural (mined or quarried) gypsum or synthetic gypsum (by-products from industrial processes). A number of new applications have also been developed. However, while there has always been some reprocessing of waste plasterboard the majority of this waste has been disposed of to landfill, which results in the loss of a useful resource. 

In support of this work, FIS works with the Plasterboard Sustainability Partnership (PSP), a ground-breaking initiative which brings together industry stakeholders and Government to work towards this key objective. 

The PSP has developed the Gypsum Sustainability Action Plan which increases attention to the improvement of the environmental performance of products across their life-cycle. Eco-design, green procurement, eco-labels, environmental product declarations, product stewardship, life-cycle assessment (LCA) and energy labels are all (good or bad!) examples of ways to try to achieve such an improvement, which have been supported by Government and industry both directly and indirectly. 

Technical Note – Guidance to minimise plasterboard waste  

Study of Plasterboard: Sustainability Impacts and Initiatives 

Specification to produce reprocessed gypsum from waste plasterboard 

Skills and competence

The FIS has a dedicated Skills team that work to address skills development – led by a Skills Board that helps to focus and prioritise what we do. Each year we complete a TNA (Training Needs Analysis) of the fit-out industry to see how we can best support the future of a skilled workforce and drive training initiatives to help with funding, employability and sustainability.    

FIS BuildBack – recruit new workers in this dedicated programme to train and bring unemployed individuals into the drylining trade
FIS Apprenticeships – modern apprentices without the pain
CSCS Card Support – see our range of specially tailored packages for those working towards a fully competent and qualified workforce

For more information on FIS Skills click here

Health and safety

FIS is working with members to improve Health and Safety in the sector.  For extensive Health and Safety Support from the FIS including free to download reports on plasterboard ingress and manual handling – click here