Gypsum wall board finishes are specified by ASTM C 840 and Gypsum Association GA-214-M-97.  These documents are summarized below.

Level 0 Finish

There is no tape, joint compound, corner bead or any other accessories.  The drywall is hung on the studs and that is the extent of work done. A level 0 finish is used as a temporary barrier or in areas where the finishes have not been determined.

Level 1 Finish

Tape is embedded in a single layer of joint compound at all joints and interior corners.  The surfaces must be free from excess joint compound, but tool marks and ridges are acceptable.  A level 1 finish is generally used above ceilings and in back-of-house areas.

Level 2 Finish

Tape is embedded in a layer of joint compound and then tooled with an additional thin layer of joint compound.  Fasteners and accessories shall be covered with one layer of joint compound.  The surfaces must be free from excess joint compound, but tool marks and ridges are acceptable.  A level 2 finish is generally used above ceilings and in back-of-house areas, garages, and mechanical rooms.

Level 3 Finish

Tape is embedded and tooled with an additional thin layer of joint compound (Level 2).  An additional coat of joint compound is then applied.  Fasteners and accessories shall be covered with two coats of joint compound.  All surfaces, including joint compound, shall be smooth and free of tool marks. A level 3 finish is used where a heavy wall covering or other heavy textured material will be applied over the wall surface.

Level 4 Finish

Tape is embedded and tooled with an additional thin layer of joint compound (Level 2).  Two additional coats of joint compound are applied to board joints.  Interior corners receive one additional coat of joint compound.  Fasteners and accessories shall be covered with three layers of joint compound.  All surfaces, including joint compound, shall be smooth and free of tool marks.  A drywall primer shall be applied prior to final painting.

A level 4 finish is used where flat paints and lightweight wall coverings will be applied over the wall surface. It is the most common type of finish and is considered the typical drywall level of finish.

Level 5 Finish

Tape is embedded and tooled with an additional thin layer of joint compound (Level 2).  Two additional coats of joint compound are applied to board joints.  Interior corners receive one additional coat of joint compound.  Fasteners and accessories shall be covered with three layers of joint compound.  Finally, a thin skim coat of joint compound (or other specialized material) is applied to the entire surface of the wall.  All surfaces shall be smooth and free of tool marks.

A level 5 finish is the highest level of finish and is used where semi-gloss, gloss, or other non-textured paints are used.  It is also used where severe lighting conditions occur, such as wall-wash light fixtures or light from a nearby window. It is important that a level 5 finish be clearly identified in the construction documents so that bidders can properly price the increased amount of work.

Gypsum Board Manufacturers

The links below will take you to Archimat, our building product directory, which hosts a list of manufacturers.

Gypsum Board Assemblies
Supports for Plaster and Gypsum Board
Gypsum Board

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