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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, acoustic and structural performance, 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.


Download Inspection Protocols And Management systems presentation here


Advice for contractors

Drylining should always be fitted to the manufacturer’s instructions and in accordance with The FIS Best Practice Guide: Installation Of Drylining.

This guide is primarily concerned with the design and installation of internal, non-loadbearing drylining constructions using gypsum plasterboard on rigid metal framework.

However, it also includes descriptions of other non-plasterboard, such as calcium silicate board, which are also 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.

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 speed of erection, fire, acoustic and thermal performance and the versatility of the systems make drylining a popular choice in all sectors of the industry. As such, they are used in all sectors, including residential, commercial, retail, medical and educational building types. 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)

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.

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

Additional technical resources

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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 – click here 

FIS Drylining working group

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.