Plasterboard Cutting and Fixing

Plasterboard can be cut by scoring the face linerboard with a knife and snapping the plasterboard back away from the scored face.
Always score the front (non-printed) face first. The back linerboard can then be cut from the back towards the front. Impact Board has fibreglass mesh behind the back face paper, so this face must also be cut before snapping.
Alternatively a saw may be used from the front face.
Cut edges are to be smoothed as required to permit neat joints. A metal T-square will assist in creating a clean, straight cut.

Cutting Plasterboard with Metal T-Square

Glancing Light on Plasterboard


Glancing light (or critical light) is a condition which exists when light hits the plasterboard surface at an acute angle and casts shadows that highlight any surface irregularities. On plasterboard walls and ceilings this can make the surface look uneven and highlight the appearance of joints.
This is most commonly found in situations where there are:
• Floor to ceiling windows.
• Windows directly adjacent to walls.
• Unshaded batten holder ceiling lights.
• Ceiling mounted fluorescent lights.
• Wall lights and downlights close to walls.
• Windows at the end of long corridors.
• Brightly lit rooms.
• Lights installed just below skillion/raked ceilings.
• Reflections of light from water features.

Consideration to Minimise
Glancing Light

The best time to consider potential glancing light issues is during the design phase, which allows choices to be made that can greatly reduce the impact of glancing light.
Large window areas are a popular feature of modern design and the preference for open plan living and working often results in ceilings and walls that extend through a number of different spaces. These features can lead to challenging lighting conditions for wall and ceilings surfaces.
When designing a project it is important to consider the effect of both natural and artificial light and how it will fall on the walls and ceilings across the whole day.
In particular, attention should be given to light entering the building in mornings and evenings when the sun is lower in the sky and casts elongated shadows that can highlight any surface variations in walls and ceilings.


For windows that are positioned where glancing light can be an issue, the use of external shading or vertical louvres may help to mitigate any problems. Curtains or interior blinds are also helpful in this situation.


Ideally windows should not abut walls or ceilings and should be oriented away from the east and west. External reflective surfaces, such as pools or neighbouring buildings, can reflect light into the space, should also be considered as they can exacerbate the problem.


The installation of plasterboard walls and ceilings should also be considered as there are a number of design and installation choices which can significantly impact the appearance of the surface.
Running the plasterboard so that the long joints are parallel to the direction of the light will help reduce the effects of glancing light. The use of longer sheets to reduce the number of butt joints is also beneficial.


Any imperfection in a completed lining installation will be made obvious by a condition called critical lighting or glancing light, where the incident light from an artificial or natural light source is nearly parallel to the surface. Glancing light also greatly exaggerates the size of imperfections making them glaringly obvious.
The worst result is achieved by an unshaded light source located directly on a ceiling or wall where the light shines parallel to the surface.

Cases where this situation may exist include:

• Unshaded batten holder light fittings.
• Fluorescent lights mounted on the ceiling.
• Wall mounted up lights and downlights.
Methods to minimise glancing/critical lighting effects from artificial lighting sources

The following lighting solutions will provide diffused light and reduce the appearance of surface variations:

• Shaded batten holder light fittings.
• Ceiling mounted pendant lights.
• Recessed ceiling lights such as downlights and recessed fluorescents (although recessed lights are more likely to be associated with glare problems).
• Consider the use of more lights of lower intensity at regular spacings, ensuring lit areas overlap. This will improve ambiance and reduce the visible effects of glancing light, and minimise shadows that can occur from a single row or single light source.
• Allow a generous angle of incidence to the surface for feature lighting such as spotlights, to minimise the highlighting of imperfections.
• Do not locate a single or isolated unshaded light source close to a wall or ceiling in a space which has generally low levels of light.
• Do not use uplights, wall-washers and spotlights in areas with a smooth wall finish to eliminate light being emitted at a glancing angle to the surface.
• Preferably, locate fluorescent lights about 450mm below the ceiling as this will give a more even distribution of light.
• When installing ceiling mounted fluorescent lights it is recommended to position the light fittings over the long edge joints.

Methods to minimise glancing/critical lighting effects from natural lighting sources

• Do not take window glazing right up to the ceiling level.
• Avoid placing windows or glass doors immediately adjacent to the end of a wall.
• Provide sun shades over the windows and glass doors.
• Recess the window to stop the sunlight reaching the wall.

Attribution: CSR Residential Installation Guide. The RED Book.

Taping Plaster in By Hand

Hand Jointing of Recessed Joints
& Back-blocked Butt Joints

Curved or straight trowels may be used for setting recessed and back-blocked butt joints. Under normal pressure, a curved trowel deflects and can assist in the preparation of flatter and more consistent joints. A 200mm trowel is recommended for second coat application, while a 250mm trowel is recommended for the finish coat.

Tape Coat

• Fill recess with compound using a 150mm broadknife.
• Bed in Gyprock Paper Tape centrally over the joint and cover lightly with compound.
A minimum 1mm compound is to be left under the tape.
• Cover all fastener heads and fill any surface damage with compound.
• Allow setting-type compounds (Gyprock Base Coat) to set completely, and drying type compounds to harden for 24 hours before proceeding.

Second Coat

• Apply a second coat, about 170mm wide, finishing slightly above the board surface, and feather joint edges.
• Cover fastener heads with a second coat of compound, laid in a different direction, and extending beyond the first coat by about 25mm.
• Allow setting-type compounds (Gyprock Base Coat) to set completely, and drying type compounds to harden for 24 hours before proceeding.

Finish Coat

• Apply a thin finish coat of topping compound centrally over the previous coat, about 250mm wide.
Feather the edges of the compound with the trowel.
• Cover previously stopped fastener heads with a third coat of compound, laid in a different direction, extending beyond the previous coat by about 25mm. Ensure that the edges of the compound are neatly feathered and that there are no trowel edge marks left in the final stopping.
• Allow the finish coat of compound to dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding.


• Sand smooth with 180 grit paper or cloth, or with 220 grit sanding mesh. Avoid any heavy pressure which might scuff the linerboard.

Caution: If previous coats of drying type compounds are not thoroughly dry before application of subsequent coats, imperfections can result from delayed shrinkage of the compound.

Attribution: CSR Residential Installation Guide. The RED Book.

Taping in plaster by Hand.

Selecting Finishing Levels

Levels of Finish

Levels of finish are defined in the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS2589. This standard is intended to provide builders, plasterboard installers and finishers, and their customers with the various defined methods and practices necessary to meet the customer’s expectations in terms of the ‘Level of Finish’.
Three ‘Levels of Finish’ (3, 4 and 5) are defined, and minimum specifications to achieve each level of finish are detailed in the standard for each of the installation processes from framing preparation to finishing. All details may not be suitable for fire rated systems or multilayer systems.
It is essential to determine the level of finish required before the frame construction begins, as specific tolerances are required for frame alignment as well as for plasterboard fixing and finishing for each of the levels of finish. Unless these requirements are met throughout construction, it may not be possible to attain the desired finish level without extensive corrective measures.
The level of finish specified also affects the methods of jointing, particularly butt joints and back-blocking requirements, the number of coats of joint compound applied, and the fitting and finishing of stopping beads. Refer to TABLE 2.
It should be noted that, generally, residential applications should be prepared to a minimum ‘Level 4 Finish’ unless specifically a higher or lower level of finish is agreed to by all contracting parties. Other commercial applications should be specified in contract documents.
Selection of Level of Finish
Factors affecting the level of finish include the surface’s visibility, the texture and gloss level of the final decoration and the lighting conditions. Critical or glancing light is that projected across the surface at low angles of incidence, as opposed to diffused lighting or light striking the surface at close to right angles. Refer to the following section “Surface Finishing & Lighting”.
A good method to overcome differences in opinions of quality is to prepare a sample area in a suitable position and for all parties to agree on the finish. The following flow chart will assist in selecting the most appropriate Level of Finish for each area.
For further information on levels of finish, refer to ‘Plasterboard Expectations’, available from the Association of Wall & Ceiling Industries.


For use in areas that do not require a finish, such as above ceilings and inside service shafts and other inaccessible spaces. All joints are to be taped with two applications of compound and all fastener heads are to be covered. Compound is to be finished smooth, such as by scraping ridges etc with a trowel.


This is generally the accepted level of finish for residential construction. Joints are to have a tape coat, and two separate coats are to be applied over the tape coat and fastener heads. All joint compound should be sanded to a smooth finish free of tool marks and ridges. Full details can be found in the Jointing section.
Gyprock One Finish is a pre-mixed acrylic compound designed to create a uniform surface on interior walls and ceilings affected by critical lighting conditions. The application of One Finish over a standard level 4 finish will improve the final surface and minimise the effects of critical light, however it will not automatically upgrade the work to a level 5 finish.


This level of finish should be used wherever gloss or semi- gloss paints are to be used, where paint is mid or dark coloured, or where critical light conditions occur such as from windows, skylights, or silhouette and spot lighting.
A three coat jointing system is required as for level four. All joint compound should be sanded to a smooth finish free of tool marks and ridges. This should be followed by the application of proprietary surface preparations by skim coating to remove differential surface textures and porosity.
Skim coating is a term used to describe a thin finish coat, rolled, trowelled or airless sprayed and then possibly sanded, to achieve a smooth and even finish. It is normally less than 1mm in thickness and is applied over the entire surface to fill imperfections in the joint work, smooth the paper texture and provide a uniform surface for decorating.

Attribution: CSR Residential Installation Guide. The RED Book.

What Finish is Right for You?

Control Joints in Plasterboard

Movement and stresses created by temperature and humidity fluctuation, can result in deformation and damage to internal linings and partitions.
It is recommended that Gyprock plasterboard surfaces be isolated from structural elements, by the use of control joints or other means where:
• A plasterboard/wallboard surface abuts any structural element or dissimilar wall or ceiling assembly.
• The framing or structural support changes within the wall or ceiling.
• At all construction/control joints within the building.
• For non-tiled internal walls with plasterboard outer layer, at 12m maximum centres.
• For tiled internal walls, at 4.8m maximum centres.
• For external ceilings, at 6m maximum centres.
• At junctions with other building elements.
• At changes of lining material.
• At each storey or rise of studs.
Control joints incorporated in a building to permit movement in the structure must be carried through all areas lined with plasterboard/wallboard. Allowance for movement must be made through the frame, lining and any tiles. Door frames extending from floor to ceiling constitute control joints. For doors less than ceiling height, a control joint extending from one corner of the frame may be used.
Vertical control joints in stud framed walls are to be constructed using two studs with a 15-20mm gap between.

Attribution: CSR Residential Installation Guide. The RED Book