Contractor Field Experience

The experienced contractor members of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI) have been involved in some of the most complex, sophisticated construction projects in North America. Institutional, healthcare and educational buildings are designed and erected under the watchful eyes of the "authority having jurisdiction". Sometimes called simply "AHJ’s", these governing agencies can either be the state fire marshal or local private fire department, the county building department, the county departments of health or education. Regardless of the agency they all follow rigorous codes, standards, and guidelines. These high standards help insure that wall and ceiling systems are installed correctly and safely, and that they conform to specific design requirements. Contractors, to be successful in their construction projects, must have experience and support, which often comes from within the AWCI network of contractors and building product manufacturers. The collective membership of AWCI is a useful source to help contractors who install all types of cold-formed steel framing systems, including interior cold-formed steel framed systems (wall, floor, and ceilings) and exterior cold-formed steel framed systems. AWCI contractors have the experience needed to erect the framing, and to install and finish the interior gypsum panels. They are also experienced in installing insulation in the stud cavity, and if the design calls for stucco, they can expertly apply the exterior finish. Finally, their scope of work also includes installing air and water barriers over continuous insulation.

AWCI contractors’ knowledge and field experience are valued assets during the design phase of any construction project. Their experience in installing systems that meet energy codes can assist architects as they identify critical details that relate to door and window interface design, and help architects to transition between adjacent dissimilar building materials. In addition, AWCI contractors who are familiar with air barrier installations can act as a valuable source of information about this rapidly emerging new technology. The project design team should consider AWCI contractors as an important resource.

Understanding the Sequence of Assembly

Wall and ceiling assemblies and systems are made up of many components. These components include materials such as gypsum, steel, glass fiber, Portland cement and even acrylic coatings, with each of these having a unique set of material properties. Understanding these properties and their subsequent compatibility with other materials is critical to proper installation of wall and ceiling assemblies. Also, wall and ceiling systems must be installed in tandem with the other building assemblies such as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Effective sequencing requires knowledgeable and skilled contractors who can carefully plan and execute proper sequencing and integrate the wall and ceiling assemblies with the other building systems. The experience and expertise of AWCI contractors makes them well suited to successfully sequence ceiling and wall systems.

For example, it is quite common in interior fire rated corridor partitions that there are mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services above the corridor’s ceiling plane that require penetrating the corridor partitions. Fire stop assemblies, which maintain the fire integrity of the partition, are tested to maintain the fire integrity of the partition. To insure that these fire stops function as tested, it is important that the gypsum panels be installed prior to the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services. The graphic shown here illustrates the proper sequencing. The framing members are erected first. Then a row of gypsum panels is installed at the top or head of the partition. Finally, the other trades (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) can now install their services. With the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services installed, the building properly enclosed, the ceilings and corridors can now be completed along with the remaining partitions.

Craft With Drywall, Steel Framing, Plasters, EIFS, and Acoustical Ceilings

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines the word craft as "skill in doing or making something". It takes great skill to install and finish cold-formed steel framed systems. It is easy to link the term "craft" or even "artisan" with a traditional trade such as plastering. Because plastering is one part science and one part art, understanding the chemistry behind plaster is as important to the mixing process as skill is to the plasterer’s artistic application. This blend of technology and artistry extends into all the trades of the AWCI contractor. Stringent energy codes require knowledgeable and skilled contractors to install insulation in both the cavity and over the flange of the cold-formed steel stud ("continuous insulation"). Contractors must also show great skill and understanding to install and finish gypsum panels that meet required fire resistive ratings, to craft aesthetically appealing walls and ceilings, to install acoustical lay-in ceilings, and to install cold formed steel framing members for both structural and non-structural applications. New integrated ceiling concepts require a special skill set. The contractors of AWCI are true artisans in the classic trades mentioned above as well as being skilled in the ever evolving advances in technology and standards of the construction industry.