Are You Specifying the Right Levels of Finish?

Jun 22, 2022 by Scott Hughes

OnBoard Newsletter | June 2022

Resources to Help Identify the Five Levels of Finish

OnBoard Newsletter - Interior Image

You’ve designed a beautiful building, so why not finish it beautifully? Critical lighting, texture and paint color will all affect the final impression. Understanding the five levels of finish and using these industry-accepted guidelines will help you choose the level of finish that best suits your clients’ expectations.

To achieve the ideal finish, clearly indicate the required finish level for each area within the project documents. There are important nuances to the finish levels, particularly between levels 2 and 3 and levels 4 and 5, so pay close attention. Misinterpretation of the levels can lead to uncomfortable jobsite meetings and finger pointing.

Based on the Gypsum Association’s GA-214-2021, “Levels of Finish for Gypsum Panel Products,” ProForm Finishing Products has three new resources to help clarify those areas that cause the most confusion.

5 Levels of Finish | ProForm
  1. Infographic for an overview of the requirements for each level of finish.
  2. Brochure for a step-by-step guide to understanding GA-214-2021 requirements.
  3. Video for a deep dive into selecting the correct level of finish for your project.

"The GA-214-2015 introduced mock walls to set and confirm owner expectations for those “critical light” walls. The recently released GA-214-2021 has added scope and context to this process. Review this section carefully to clarify the intent of the mock-up and procedures to getting it correct."

Thad Goodman


Thad Goodman

Construction Design ManagerNational Gypsum Company

Product Spotlight: ProForm Products with Dust-Tech

Looking to reduce jobsite airborne dust? Then specify ProForm® All-Purpose with Dust-Tech® Joint Compound or ProForm® Lite Blue™ with Dust-Tech® Joint Compound. Where a high concentration of dust is a concern, one of these ready mix joint compounds is a must. Both formulas reduce airborne dust by 60% and are ideal for use in hospitals, schools, college dorms, assisted living facilities and more.

Dust-Tech Duo Small

Need to repair cracks in plaster walls or laminate gypsum board to other surfaces? ProForm All-Purpose with Dust-Tech Joint Compound is good for all phases of finishing, texturing, patching and renovations. Make this your go-to product.

ProForm Lite Blue with Dust-Tech offers the same features and benefits as ProForm All-Purpose with Dust-Tech but is 30% lighter. Both have enhanced protection against mold and will sand without clogging the sandpaper. Cleanup for both is quick and easy. Consult your Construction Designer Manager if you’re not sure which product to use for your project.


  • Reduces airborne dust by up to 60% allowing for quick and easy cleanup
  • Enhanced protection against mold
  • Sands without clogging sandpaper

"The GA 214-2021 is the rule book for finishing gypsum board partitions. I know you will agree: Improper specifications or finishing of the gypsum board will result in an uncomfortable jobsite meeting. Specifying a particular Level of Finish for each room, taking into consideration critical lighting, paint color and sheen, these will all go a long way toward assembling a successful project."

Scott Hughes


Scott Hughes

Construction Design ManagerNational Gypsum Company

Project Profile: Winthrop Center

inline-imageCourtesy of MP Boston | Steelblue

Architect: Handel Architects LLP, Boston, MA

Owner: MP Boston, Boston, MA

General Contractor: Suffolk Construction Company, Boston, MA

Drywall Subcontractor: Century Drywall, Inc., Lincoln, RI

When completed, this 1.8-million square feet of residential, business and retail space will meet LEED Platinum standards. Meeting even more rigorous certifications, the Winthrop Center will be the largest Passive House office building in the world. Dubbed Boston’s “next great public space,” it will invigorate the city’s financial district. Winthrop Center is slated to be a year-round premier gathering place for art shows and farmer’s markets along with permanent retail shops and restaurants.

Read more about this project and the products used.

Need resources to take to the jobsite?

You can't be too careful when your project design is on the line. Your Construction Design Managers can provide print materials to take along to the jobsite. These will help manage expectations and spell out finish requirements.

You can also schedule NGC's AIA continuing education program, Finishing Gypsum Board: Because Appearance Matters, which provides you the tools to be proactive about specifying the right level of finish, and saves everyone time and headaches – before any paint touches the wall.

For more information or to schedule a continuing education session, contact your construction design manager today. Let us help you design and build better together!

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