Change your country/region

It looks like you entered an employee email address, but this is the customer sign-in. Use the link below instead.

The Ins-and-Outs of Abuse and Impact Resistance: Five Things to Know

Over its life, a wall system can take a beating. From scuffs and marks to dents and holes, your walls can always benefit from added abuse resistance. Investing in gypsum panel products ideally suited for high-traffic areas will often eliminate ongoing maintenance expenses over standard drywall, adding years of reliable durability and safety to the spaces that need it most.

The following are the five most important things designers, contractors, maintenance personnel, and building owners should know about abuse and impact resistance:

1. Durability is Universal

All commercial and institutional buildings have high-traffic areas where people and objects pass through. Inherently, these areas are more prone to scraping and bumping, and therefore, damage. If the materials used are not more durable than others more suitable for normal use, the condition of the walls quickly erode. Worse yet, if not properly maintained, building owners may be faced with underperforming surfaces, significant maintenance costs, and potential life safety issues.

2. Investing in Added Protection

Owners and facility managers often track both the delivered costs of their facilities and ongoing repair & maintenance costs. From a lifecycle perspective, it is often less expensive to invest in abuse- and impact-resistant materials in high-traffic areas as a first cost, rather than paying ongoing expenses to maintain and repair standard drywall partitions. Ideal areas for higher-performing abuse- and impact-resistant gypsum panel products include, but are not limited to:

·       Hospital hallways, emergency, surgical, and patient rooms

·       School classrooms, cafeterias, gymnasiums, and hallways

·       Dormitory hallways and social rooms

·       Means of egress, such as stairwells and elevator hoistway enclosures

·       Garages, warehouses, and loading docks

Remember, before selecting materials for your project, be sure to check with your local building code authority. Many municipalities are now adopting International Building Code® (IBC®) standards that require greater levels of abuse and impact resistance in several critical areas (such as stairwell and elevator hoistway enclosures), which ensures the safety of the property and its occupants.

3. Classified Information

Building design must consider the purpose of a structure and the type of environment it will house to determine the appropriate level of abuse resistance to incorporate. Identified in the IBC®, gypsum panel products claiming abuse resistance must be tested to ASTM C1629, Standard Classification for Abuse-Resistant Nondecorated Interior Gypsum Panel Products and Fiber-Reinforced Cement Panels. This specification for surface abrasion and indentation resistance, as well as soft- and hard-body impact, details three classification levels in each of the performance categories.

Test Method

Test Summary

ASTM C1629 Classification Levels

Abrasion Resistance

ASTM D4977

A sample is placed under a wire brush weighted with 25 lbs. (11.3 kg). The brush is then cycled 50 times back and forth across the surface. This creates surface wear that is measured to determine the level of abrasion resistance.

Abraded Depth Maximum

Level 1 = 0.126 in. (3.2 mm)

Level 2 = 0.059 in. (1.5 mm)

Level 3 = 0.010 in. (0.3 mm)

Indentation Resistance

ASTM D5420

A 2 lb. (0.91 kg) weight is raised to a 36 in. (914 mm) height and dropped onto a 5/8 in. (15.9 mm) hemispherical die that strikes the sample with 72 in•lb (12.6 J) of force. The depth of the indentation is measured to determine the level of indentation resistance.

Indentation Maximum

Level 1 = 0.150 in. (3.8 mm)

Level 2 = 0.100 in. (2.5 mm)

Level 3 = 0.050 in. (1.3 mm)

Soft-Body Impact Resistance

ASTM C1629

A 60 lb. (27.2 kg) leather bag is suspended on a rope and raised away angularly from a sample installed on 2 x 4 in. (38 x 89 mm) wood framing 16 in. (406 mm) OC. The bag is raised (in 6 in. [152 mm] increments) and released to impact the sample. The impact energy is calculated based upon the bag weight and drop height where structural failure occurs.

Minimum Impact Load
(structural failure)

Level 1 = 90 ft•lbf (122 J)

Level 2 = 195 ft•lbf (265 J)

Level 3 = 300 ft•lbf (408 J)

Hard-Body Impact Resistance

ASTM C1629

A 2 x 2 ft. (610 x 610 mm) sample is mounted vertically to a metal frame and impacted with a 2.75 in. (70 mm) diameter weighted swinging ram (resembling a sledgehammer). Weight is added in 2.5 lb. (1.1 kg) increments to increase the impact force. Failure energy is determined when penetration through the face into the frame cavity occurs.

Minimum Impact Load
(structural failure)

Level 1 = 50 ft•lbf (68 J)

Level 2 = 100 ft•lbf (136 J)

Level 3 = 150 ft•lbf (204 J)


4. It Takes Two

At the most fundamental level, abuse resistance can be defined as the ability of a partition system to resist two types of damage: surface damage and penetration.

Damage Type

Abuse Challenge

Abuse Strategy

Surface Damage


Interior partitions in high-traffic areas are subject to surface damage caused by ordinary contact with people and furniture as well as from impacts. Surface damage can consist of abrasion (scratching) or indentation (denting).

Abuse-resistant gypsum panel products are ideal for applications that demand additional surface protection from scuffs, scratches, and dents.


In more demanding environments, interior partitions can be exposed to impacts that penetrate through the wall, causing damage that is costly and potentially dangerous. Impacts of this nature are of two types: (1) hard-body impact, which results from direct concentrated contact with a tool or hard object; and (2) soft-body impact, which results from bodily contact with the building’s human occupants.

Impact-resistant gypsum panel products are ideal for applications where both surface abuse and impact damage are concerns. While these panels are manufactured to feature the same abrasion and indentation resistance as abuse-resistant gypsum panel products, these panels feature additional core reinforcement that resist significant impact and wall cavity penetration.

A New Era

In the past, concrete and masonry systems have been used for projects requiring added abuse and impact resistance. While these materials provide protection from traffic-related damage, they are heavy, require specialized labor to install and finish, and may require favorable temperatures to properly cure. However, with advances in the manufacture of high-performing building products, gypsum-based solutions have become the preferred choice in areas prone to abuse and impact because they offer many advantages over these other materials.

Today, a new generation of high-performance engineered gypsum panel products has transformed the entire field of abuse and impact resistance. These revolutionary products provide designers, maintenance personnel, and building owners greater access to mechanical systems, lighter footprints, pleasing aesthetics, outstanding durability, and long-term performance.


ASTM C1629 Test Results








Sheetrock® Brand Mold Tough® AR Firecode® X Panels

5/8 in. (15.9 mm) Type X panels with abuse, moisture, and mold resistance.

Level 21

Level 1

Level 2

Level 1

Sheetrock® Brand Glass-Mat Panels Mold Tough® AR Firecode® X

5/8 in. (15.9 mm) glass-mat Type X panels with abuse, moisture, and mold resistance.

Level 21

Level 2

Level 3

Level 1

Sheetrock® Brand Mold Tough® VHI Firecode® X Panels

5/8 in. (15.9 mm) Type X panels with very high impact, moisture, and mold resistance.

Level 21

Level 2

Level 3

Level 3

Sheetrock® Brand Glass-Mat Panels Mold Tough® VHI Firecode® X

5/8 in. (15.9 mm) glass-mat Type X panels with very high-impact (VHI), moisture, and mold resistance.

Level 21

Level 1

Level 3

Level 2

Fiberock® Brand AR Interior Panels

1/2 in. (12.7 mm) Regular and 5/8 in. (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum-fiber panels with abuse resistance.

1/2 in. (12.7 mm) Thickness

Level 11

Level 1

Level 1

Level 1

5/8 in. (15.9 mm) Thickness

Level 11

Level 1

Level 2

Level 1

Fiberock® Brand Aqua-Tough™ AR Interior Panels

1/2 in. (12.7 mm) Regular and 5/8 in. (15.9 mm) Type X gypsum-fiber panels with moisture, mold, and abuse resistance.

Level 11

Level 1

Level 2

Level 1


1.  USG testing demonstrates that when painted with one coat of primer and two coats of latex paint, the abrasion resistance increases to Level 3.


Building design presents countless challenges, and USG can help you address key performance issues with our comprehensive portfolio of abuse- and impact-resistant solutions. When specified and installed in accordance with best practices, our products can improve the total performance of the building components, keeping the structure and its occupants safer.

For the most up-to-date product information, visit