A consistent approach to finishes

9.1.3Internal walls and ceilings

Internal walls and ceilings shall be built to appropriate tolerances and have an acceptable finished appearance. Issues to be taken into account include:

  1. plastering and dry lining
  2. walls and ceilings
  3. skirtings.

Plastering and dry lining

Plastered and dry lined surfaces should:

  • not have board joints readily visible and be within a maximum ±3mm deviation, measured using a 450mm straight edge with equal offsets
  • be viewed from a distance of 2m in natural daylight with no artificial light shining on the surface. Wall lights and/or uplighters should be switched off.


Walls should:

  • be reasonably uniform, although there may be minor textural differences around lights and other fittings
  • have no visible gaps between fittings and the surface (e.g. around switch plates)
  • have jointing tape fully covered and unobtrusive in the finished surface
  • have flat walls and within a ±3mm deviation measured using a 2m straight edge with equal offsets
  • be a maximum of 8mm from plumb for walls up to 3m high. Taller walls should be a maximum of 8mm from plumb per storey and 12mm in total.


Ceilings should be:

  • level within a 3mm deviation per 1m for ceilings up to 6m across (measured at the furthest points across the full width of the ceiling)
  • a maximum of 20mm out of level for ceilings over 6m across
  • flat within a ±5mm deviation, measured using a 2m straight edge with equal offsets.

Setting out of corners, duct casings, access covers and any associated framing should be:

  • square
  • provided with an appropriate decorative finish.
  • neat and tidy

Tolerances for corner details

Also note:

  • In plastered walls and ceilings, some tooling marks may be visible.
  • Small cracks may occur in wall finishes which pass across floors (e.g. in staircase walls).
  • Some cracking (up to 2mm wide) may occur at wall, floor and ceiling junctions, due to shrinkage and differential movement of materials.
  • Where stair strings abut a wall, a crack of up to 4mm may appear as a result of shrinkage of materials.


Where skirtings are installed:

  • the gap between the floor finish (without coverings) and the bottom of the skirting should not exceed 5mm at the time of completion
  • joints should present a continuous appearance when viewed from a distance of 2m in daylight (some initial shrinkage of the skirting may already be evident at completion of the property).

Also note:

  • The gap between the floor finish and the skirting may increase due to normal drying out, shrinkage and/or deflection, particularly in timber floors.
  • Gaps may appear at joints and corners due to shrinkage, and between the wall finish and skirting due to drying out, shrinkage and fixing position.