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2016 Update to Gypsum Association Manual
Could Impact Cold-Formed Steel Framing

Please be advised that the 2016 edition of the Gypsum Association manual (GA-216-2016, Application and Finishing of Gypsum Panel Products) has been issued with additional new language as follows: Where studs complying with ASTM C645 are used to receive Abuse Resistant or Impact Resistant Gypsum panels, they shall be not less than 0.0312 in. (0.792 mm) base metal thickness and shall be in accordance with sections 4.3 and 8.1 of Specification C645.

Please note that 0.0312 in. (0.792 mm) is the design thickness of commercial grade 30 mil studs.

Although some gypsum panel manufacturers have recommended this minimum thickness before, the GA-216 is referenced by the International Building Code and so would become mandatory when this edition of the GA-216 is adopted by the code.

Currently, the 2013 version of GA-216 is referenced in the IBC 2015 so the 2016 version with the new language will not be referenced until the 2018 IBC is released for adoption by local code jurisdictions.  However, it is possible that architects may choose to write this into their specifications now or the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) could require the thicker materials for approvals on current projects.

In any scenario, this will likely have an impact on the use of equivalent thickness framing as an option.  The use of the heavier thickness steel mandated by the Gypsum Association in GA216-16 will result in an increase in the material and labor cost of constructing these assemblies for our members.  

The SFIA advises its members to review project specifications to ensure the proper material is being ordered, and that quotes are based upon the material thicknesses that are specified.  In addition, some stud manufacturers have previously obtained letters of acceptability for equivalent framing products from the manufacturers of high abuse/impact resistant panels and which could be helpful in discussions with specifiers and AHJs.

The SFIA was not advised in advance of this significant change, and looks forward to working with the Gypsum Association and our other allied organizations to discuss this particular challenge and further build the positive relationship we have enjoyed.