The Bottom Line About Specifying Abuse or Impact

Sep 1, 2020 by Scott Hughes

OnBoard Newsletter | September 2020

Abuse Resistant (AR) and Impact Resistant (IR) gypsum panels are not interchangeable because they do not perform the same jobs. After you’ve finished reading this, we hope you’ll have a better understanding about how and when to specify each.

Abuse & Impact Resistant

Abuse Resistant & Impact Resistant Are Not Equal

Abuse Resistant: If what happens to the surface is a major concern, Gold Bond® XP® Hi-Abuse® Gypsum Board is an excellent option. It provides more protection than standard gypsum board against surface abrasion – scrapes, scratches and scuffs. For areas where there is not a constant flow of equipment and crowds of people.

Impact Resistant: Gold Bond® XP® Hi-Impact® Gypsum Board can take the toughest hits over time, by both people and equipment. It doesn’t need to be everywhere, but where XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board needs to be, there is no substitution.

How They Are Not Equal: XP Hi-Abuse Gypsum Board has a lower price point than XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board because it is not designed to endure the same level of force. If you specify XP Hi-Abuse Gypsum Board when what you really need is XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board, your client could be subjected to costly repairs over the long run.

See How Abuse Resistant & Impact Resistant Perform Differently

For a product to be classified Abuse Resistant (AR) or Impact Resistant (IR), it must meet the test standards of ASTM C1629. ASTM C1629 has four test methods to quantify a level of abuse/impact resistance. Each test has a classification level (1-3), with 3 being the best.

XP Hi-Abuse and XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board were subjected to the four test methods: Surface abrasion, indentation, soft body impact and hard body impact. The chart below shows their results. As you can see, IR outperforms AR. To watch the tests being performed, click each test method.

Stop & Review These Points Before Specifying AR or IR

OnBoard Sept 2020 - Graphic 2

These tips will help you avoid common mistakes architects and contractors make when determining whether to use Abuse Resistant or Impact Resistant.

1. Consider carefully: This is not a value engineering situation.
Value engineering only works if you’re not sacrificing functionality – but Abuse Resistant and Impact Resistant are not interchangeable gypsum panels. They are two distinct products that perform differently. Where you need IR, there is no substitution.

2. Write “Abuse” and “Impact” in two separate paragraphs in your specification.
Use two separate paragraphs in your specification; one for AR and one for IR. We also recommend listing the four different test methods and preferred classification level for each product type.

3. Call out the specific product on the partition schedule in the drawing set.
It’s important to coordinate the specification and partition schedule. Double check and cross reference everything. Be clear about which wall gets which product. Also identify that on your partition schedules to ensure accurate pricing.

4. Specify the correct stud gauge.
Screw spinout is a complicated issue that occurs in many applications if best practices are not used. Make sure the studs are right for the product you’re specifying. Remember to also include adequate stud thickness on the partition schedule. Specify according to GA-216-2021 section (“Where studs complying with ASTM C645 are used to receive AR or IR gypsum panels, they shall not be less than 0.0312 inch design thickness.” This equals 20 gauge drywall studs, not EQ stud thickness.) Consult GA-216 or talk with your construction design manager (CDM) if you’re not sure. (Your CDM can also provide a copy of GA-216.)

5. Specify the right product for the application.
Each project has its nuances. To specify the right product (AR or IR), ask many detailed questions, such as how many people will be occupying the space, frequency of use, type of usage. For areas such as university student housing, ask about impact in hallways, common areas and cafeteria multi-purpose rooms. Talk with your construction design manager for more ways to assess whether your project requires AR or IR.

“When it comes to product specific questions, we’re often asked: “Under what conditions do I need to specify abuse- or impact-resistant wallboard?” If the concern is scratch or rubbing resistance, then XP Hi-Abuse Gypsum Board will do the job. If you’re worried about more damage than just surface abrasion, then XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board is the better choice. When you think about XP Hi-Impact Gypsum, think baseball bat stopper!"

Scott Hughes


Scott Hughes

Construction Design ManagerNational Gypsum

Make Your Specifications Clear and Write on Your Drawings

Make sure your written specifications are clear, but don’t stop there. When specific walls need to be Impact Resistant, also write XP Hi-Impact Gypsum Board on those walls in your drawing set –– and mark “no substitutions allowed.” Leave nothing to interpretation.

Download our 3-Part Specification Section 09 29 00 Gypsum Board for your next project.

Your Construction Design Manager is Here to Help

We often get questions about Abuse Resistant and Impact Resistant, so you’re not alone if the waters are a little muddy. Don’t hesitate to call your construction design manager for clarification. He or she can help you make the best choice – AR or IR – for each area in your project and nail down your specification details.

And if your project is subject to extreme moisture or humidity, it may require fiberglass mat AR or IR gypsum panels. Ask your CDM about eXP® Interior Extreme® AR Gypsum Panel and eXP® Interior Extreme® IR Gypsum Panel.

Click here to read previous editions of the OnBoard Newsletter.

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