Demountable walls continue to proliferate offices, schools, hospitals and other interior spaces that require periodic restructuring of floor plan space. While initially more expensive than standard drywall, demountable walls offer savings in the long run, especially if the layout must accommodate rearranging of the occupants' locations.

"With demountable walls, the biggest thing is that in the long term, it's cheaper than drywall, though not up front," according to consultant Barry Bastian, a marketing consultant for Omnova Solutions and Gravity Lock Systems Inc. "Let's say drywall is $50 a foot to install-this is $55. The product is a lot easier because anytime you have to change anything, you can reuse the wall about three times. Drywall has to be torn down and thrown away."

For contractors looking to diversify, demountable walls have a short learning curve and open an entirely new market of customers.

The right moves

Moveable walls are defined as unitized panel assemblies connected at the joints with small panel connectors or narrow reveals that may be slotted to accept hang-on furniture. The base and ceiling runners and trims are installed separately and run continuously; panels are moved as assembled units.

Moveable walls are used to displace conventional fixed walls in all types of layouts. Since the panels are moved as assembled units, these types of systems move very quickly and are ideal for locations that require quick changes.

Demountable steel walls consist of metal-faced gypsum panels that are suspended from a separate stud and track framework. Ceiling runners, floor tracks and studs are installed similar to standard drywall construction. The systems are moved by disassembling and removing individual panels, trim, studs and tracks. Demountable steel walls do not move as quickly as moveable wall systems but are usually less expensive.

Demountable gypsum walls consist of vinyl-covered gypsum board that snaps, clips, screws or is suspended from a stud and track framework. Similar to demountable steel walls, the ceiling and floor tracks run continuously, studs extend from floor to ceiling. The systems are moved by disassembling and removing individual trims, studs and track.

Besides speed of installation vs. drywall (mudding, sanding, taping and painting are eliminated), these walls offer tax incentives for the owners.

"These systems have an accelerated seven-year depreciation, so just like office furniture they can be depreciated," Bastian says.

The walls can be considered tangible personal property, depreciable under IRC Section 168, and will more than likely not be treated as seven-year property on income tax returns.

The right track

Lowell Burkstrand, president of Eliminator Track, offers the only demountable wall system in which one can build a firewall through a grid ceiling.

"The Eliminator Track is a 25-gauge steel track designed to replace standard top track when framing interior drywall partitions in areas where the ceiling grid have been previously installed," Burkstrand says. "It speeds the wall angle at the wall/ceiling intersection making the finished walls look better then walls finished with J bead or L bead. It comes in both 21⁄2 and 35⁄8 sizes, 12-foot standard lengths, and is available to match metallic or most other grid manufacturers' standard white colors."

When framing walls in an area that the ceiling grids are already installed, begin by screw-attaching the Eliminator Track directly to the ceiling grid thus replacing standard 25-gauge top track. Once the bottom track is installed, take 25-gauge studs and slide them into the specially designed holes in the Eliminator Track. These holes allow the installer to simply twist and snap lock the studs into position without screws or fasteners. The holes are punched on 8-inch centers or 24-inch stud spacing eliminating measuring or layout error.

"You can also use longer studs to extend up through the holes to frame sound or fire walls above the grid without having to cut grid members apart," Burkstrand adds. "Once the framing is complete, you simply hang the gypsum wallboard against the outer flange of track. The need for J bead or other trims at the top of the gypsum board is eliminated. You simply flat tape against the exposed edge of the track. The gypsum board and flat taping cover only half of this outer flange leaving a 3/4-inch wall angle at the ceiling/wall intersection."

"Facility managers and building owners like demountable wall panel systems because they're green," Bastian adds. "When the space needs to be rearranged, the waste of tearing out old to make way for the new is eliminated."

Sidebar: Walls that move Online

Several manufacturer Web sites can offer contractors insight and information on FAQs and installation techniques for demountable wall systems.

Omnova Solutions designs and produces commercial wall coverings that are used on wall panels, movable walls, and similar products. For more information, visit and

Gravity Lock makes a moveable wall system. For details on installation techniques, visit

Wall Innovators designs a full height movable wall system. Check out for specific installation information.

For information on New Construction Systems' Eliminator Track, visit