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|Gypsum drywall shaft
systems are now considered the standard for low-, mid-
and high-rise construction.
Selecting the Right System
The shaft wall selection process begins with a review of
the key performance and design criteria that the walls will
be expected to meet. While life safety is the overriding concern
for all applications, specifiers should identify and prioritize
the additional system attributes that best meet the remaining
performance criteria and the other needs of the client. Following
are some of the more important factors to consider.
Life Safety This
is the most important consideration for all projects. The
life safety attributes of a shaft wall system protect building
occupants, support the interests of the client and help manage
the designers risk. As such, the fire endurance of the
system (one to four hours) should be verified by an independent
testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and
the primary system components (such as gypsum panels) should
be classified by the same agency. Only thoroughly tested systems
can ensure long-term performance of the shaft wall itself
and key interfaces such as elevator doors, fire dampers and
The thickness of the shaft wall impacts the square footage
of usable/leaseable floor space. Gypsum shaft walls are usually
the thinnest systems available and thus deliver the maximum
usable floor space.
Weight The lighter
the shaft wall, the less dead load on the structure. Gypsum
drywall shaft systems offer benefits here as well. They are
the lightest-weight systems available.
accommodates structural dynamics such as building sway, drift
and floor movement, as well as the cyclical nature of loading
from elevators and seismic events. Elastic and ductile shaft
walls are normally preferable to stiff and brittle walls.
Abuse-resistant shaft walls stand up to everyday
damage and thereby reduce life cycle costs. The abuse-resistance
of gypsum drywall shaft walls can be enhanced through the
use of special abuse-resistant panels, surface coatings and/or
veneer plaster finishes.
Speed of Installation
Faster-installing systems help streamline scheduling
and support good design and project management practices.
Again, gypsum drywall shaft systems offer significant benefits
in this area. They install quickly and allow construction
from one side only (the floor side). This eliminates the need
for scaffolding within the shaft and helps create a safer
By evaluating and ranking the relative importance of each
of these factors, specifiers are able to zero in on the particular
type of shaft wall system that best meets the life safety
and performance needs of the building, as well as other design
and aesthetic priorities established by the client.
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