A Florida high school opts for abuse-resistant wallboard over traditional concrete block for non-load-bearing walls.

Architect Phil Daimwood (left) and Project Manager Jim Crews say the abuse-resistant walls are durable and will be easy to remodel down the road.

Traditionally, concrete blocks are the stuff school walls are made of. However, Seabreeze High School, of Ormond Beach, Fla., will feature corridors and classrooms made of a tough plaster system over a high-impact board on all non-load-bearing walls.

Considering the traffic, longevity and occupancy factors that are paramount in school construction, the idea of wallboard as a practical school interior material has never been an obvious one.

¿The professional world has been fearful of using drywall in schools, especially secondary schools,¿ says Phil Daimwood, of DDP Architects, located in Longwood, Fla. ¿This new impact-resistant system is different than traditional drywall and it¿s been well received by educators.¿

This abuse-resistant system, manufactured by USG Corp., features Fiberock abuse-resistant panels over heavy-gauge-metal studs, serving as an alternative to concrete block for non-bearing walls. The panels incorporate imbedded fiberglass mesh in the back of the panel for added strength and durability.

The basecoat plaster is mixed to the proper consistency and applied.

Back to school

Durability is a design consideration in all architectural spaces, but especially in schools. Interior partitions are vulnerable to both incidental and intentional surface and impact damage. In the past, masonry systems have been the solution of choice for facilities requiring impact resistance, but in Florida, masons have been in short supply due to heavy construction.

Exclusive concrete-block construction is not always feasible, let alone cost effective. Use of abuse-resistant wallboard provided savings for the school by reducing material and labor costs.

¿These high-impact panels cost a little more than regular drywall, but it gave the school more flexibility than concrete block,¿ says Jim Crews, vice president of A.W. Baylor Plastering Inc., of Ormond Beach, Fla., the company that installed the walls. ¿Should the school want to make changes in the future, it will be able to access the walls easily.¿

In addition to the abuse-resistant panels, the system featured USG¿s Imperial veneer plaster coating system. Both the basecoat and finish plaster have minimum 3,000 psi compressive strengths. The manufacturer estimates that the addition of the two-coat plaster system to the high-impact wallboard increases the hard-body impact failure of the walls by at least 20 feet-pounds.

Basecoat plaster is applied over the abuse-resistant panels and brushed to create a grooved finish.

Plaster makes perfect

¿You have to be ready to trowel when it starts setting up, but it trowels down smooth,¿ says Robbie Sanders, A.W. Baylor Plastering superintendent. ¿If you trowel long enough, you can get it as slick as glass, and you won¿t be able to knock a hole in it once it sets up.¿

A.W. Baylor Plastering subcontracted the metal-stud framing, hanging and finishing at Seabreeze High School. Board hangers were paid by the piece, then an hourly paid finisher taped the joints. With the panels in place and properly taped, a bonding agent was rolled along the walls, upon which the plasterers applied the two-coat Imperial system.

An interesting aspect of the project involved the creation of special quarter-round corners made out of plaster. Instead of using corner bead, A.W. Baylor Plastering crews formed their own corners out of the basecoat compound, with the guidance of manufacturer expertise.

The design featured exterior load-bearing walls made of concrete block and brick/split-face block veneer. The main roof is modified bitumen with a masonry parapet and has concrete tiles in sloped areas. The second floor was framed with pre-cast concrete hollow-core planks. Impact-resistant panels were used on all interior non-load-bearing walls on the second floor.