The Gypsum Association has been providing information to the construction industry since before it was officially an association. Prior to the formal establishment of the Association, several gypsum manufacturers had supported an informal Chicago-based organization known as the Gypsum Industries. The Gypsum Industries developed standards through third-party organizations and supported a research associate at the National Bureau of Standards. It also published several documents on the subject of gypsum tile or block, including one titled “Gypsum Partition Tile,” which included a lengthy discussion about the history and proper use of gypsum tile. Since its formal establishment in 1930, the Gypsum Association has published countless technical bulletins, pamphlets, videos, and other materials for the purpose of achieving and maintaining high standards of installation and finishing of gypsum products.

However, the Gypsum Association is comprised of a relatively small segment of the construction products industry. To be a member of the Association, one must be based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico; calcine (process for manufacture) gypsum; and produce gypsum board to the ASTM C 1396 standard. The publications produced by the Association, for self-evident reasons, refer almost exclusively to the products offered by the Association’s members. To take that one step further, the Association’s publications address the properties and requirements of products that more than one member offers; we do not address one-of-a-kind or proprietary products.

Consequently, there are several products, systems, and methods that have gone unaddressed in our literature and the literature of related organizations concerning the finishing of various gypsum board surfaces. And for quite some time there was a void in the available literature and standards addressing those subjects. To fill this void, the Drywall Finishing Council was established in 1992 as an independent entity where interested parties could meet to develop and propagate standards and other information specifically addressing drywall finishing products, their application, inspection, and limitations. Unlike the Gypsum Association, the DWFC has roughly three dozen members from all corners of the industry that create products and provide services related to gypsum wallboard building systems, including joint compound manufacturers, tool manufacturers, paint manufacturers, chemical companies, contractor associations, and of course, wallboard manufacturers. The DWFC now meets twice yearly, once concurrent with the AWCI convention and again in the fall.


The mission of the DWFC, as stated on its Web site, is:

To improve the quality and standards of the drywall finishing industry

To speak with a unified and consistent public voice from the viewpoint of members

To provide a forum in which to address the concerns and issues of finishing materials manufacturers

To further the cause of drywall finishing materials, practices and affiliated industries such that the state-of-the-trade elevates in it image and performance.

Likewise, the DWFC’s goals as stated on it Web site are:

To establish workman-like practices and industry standards that assist the drywall finishing industry

To encourage the development, acceptance, and increased use of high-quality, performance-oriented finishing materials

To raise industry awareness of issues related to the finishing of drywall

To educate members in all aspects of drywall finishing and elevate the industry by creating better informed members.

As suggested above, the primary means for achieving its mission and goals is developing and publishing documents that pertain specifically to the drywall finishing industry. Currently, there are four technical publications and an informational brochure available in both HTML and PDF form on the DWFC Web site. The technical documents available are:

Recommended Levels of Paint Finish Over Gypsum Board

Method for Inspecting Interior Joint Treated Gypsum Panel Surfaces

Interior Drywall Specifications

Recommended Surface Treatment for Finishing Gypsum Panels to Attain a Level 5 Finish


The document titled “Recommended Levels of Paint Finish Over Gypsum Board” was developed to ensure that drywall finishers, painters, decorators, project managers, architects and other interested parties would all be working toward an established and well-defined final product so that everyone has a shared expectation of the final painted or otherwise decorated drywall surface. The four-page document consists of five sections: Scope, Terminology, Levels of Paint Finish over Gypsum Board, Comments and Resources.

The Scope section briefly states that the document addresses the various levels of paint finish over new drywall surfaces.

The Terminology section consists of an alphabetical list of definitions of terms addressed in the document, including critical lighting, joint telegraphing, and properly painted surface-terms that drywall contractors, painting contractors, general contractors, project managers, and architects have no doubt debated since the first commercial use of gypsum wallboard.

The Levels of Paint Finish over Gypsum Board section is obviously the heart of the document. It describes the expected final result for each of the five levels of paint finish beginning with surfaces where the final decoration is as yet undetermined through the fifth level “where the best paint finish is required, such as under critical-lighting conditions or when paints that have a glossy surface are used.”

The Comments section explains the reasoning and often cites outside sources for providing certain recommendations in particular circumstances.

The Resources section lists the ASTM, Gypsum Association, PDCA (Painting and Decorating Contractors of America), and DWFC standards that contain additional information on the topics addressed in the document.

The document titled “Method for Inspecting Interior Joint Treated Gypsum Panel Surfaces” was created to “minimize decorating problems that occur due to surface variations between the gypsum panel surface and areas treated with joint compound.” As with the previous document, this three-page document contains five sections: Scope, Terminology, Visual Evaluation, Comments, and Resources. The Scope section is a brief single sentence statement: “The purpose of this document is to provide a visual evaluation method for inspecting joint treated gypsum panel surfaces.” The Terminology section includes definitions of terms used in the document including Inspection Lighting, Normal Lighting Conditions, and Normal Viewing Position - all terms of art that need to be understood by all parties. The Visual Evaluation section spells out the preconditions for a drywall finishing job and the criteria and methods for inspecting a finished drywall surface. The Comments and Resources sections use the same format as the previously described document.

The “Interior Drywall Specifications” document is a single page specification sheet that itemizes the Scope; Substrate Preparation; Interior Job Conditions; Drywall Joint Compound, Drywall Texture, and Paint/Coating Application; and Interior Conditions for Finished Buildings. This specification sheet would typically be included in a job submittal so that all parties, including the specifier, the general contractor, the project manager, and the subcontractors have been provided the industry’s agreed upon job criteria for “All walls, partitions, and ceilings to which drywall joint compounds, drywall textures (where applicable), and paints/coatings are to be applied.” The document covers materials, working and drying temperatures and conditions, surface conditions, lighting, mixing instructions, and inspection conditions.

The document titled “Recommended Surface Treatment for Finishing Gypsum Panels to Attain a Level 5 Finish,” as with the previously described documents, is separated into five sections: Scope, Terminology, Guidelines for Determining an Acceptable Surface Treatment, Comments, and Resources. The Scope section states that the purpose of this three-page document: “… is to describe guidelines for determining the visual performance expectations that an acceptable surface treatment will impart to achieve a Level 5 finish over a properly prepared Level 4 joint treated gypsum panel surface.” As before, the Terminology section defines terms used in the document. The Guidelines for Determining an Acceptable Surface section is broken down into three subsections: Conditions for Installation, Materials, and Visual Performance Expectation. The Comments and Resources sections contain parallel material to the previously described documents.

So, drywall contractors in search of additional support and documentation for what are considered industry standards for the finishing (and inspection) of gypsum wallboard surfaces have several very useful, information-packed documents available to them from the Drywall Finishing Council

And, as of its most recent revision, GA-214, Recommended Levels of Gypsum Board Finish, has now among its sponsors and technical reviewers the members of the DWFC. This document now bears the DWFC logo along with the logos of the other sponsoring organizations. W&C