Dry Liner

The Job and What's Involved

Dry lining is a method of constructing wall and ceiling linings or partitions, using board and metal framing systems. It is a modern technique used in most types of building, from houses and flats through to office blocks, shopping centres and airport terminals.

There are two specialist trades:

Dry Lining Fixing - which is the construction of wall and ceiling linings and partitions. Working from plans and drawings, dry lining fixers measure, cut and lay metal track and stud, which forms a frame. When lining walls, they have to allow for door and window openings, so the work can be complex, demanding a high degree of accuracy. Plasterboard is normally used to fill the frame. The plasterboard is measured and cut, then fixed into the frame, using a screw gun.

Dry Lining Finishing - where the work is completed, providing a smooth, finished surface, ready for decoration. Dry lining finishers are sometimes known as tapers and jointers, because they fill in the joints between boards and cover the joints with reinforcing fibre or paper tape. They then apply one or more coats of plaster to the joints and, if necessary, sand them down to leave a seamless finish.

In some cases, special materials are used for linings and partitions, e.g. when additional soundproofing, moisture resistance or fire protection is required.

Dry liners normally work in small teams, but dry line fixers and dry line finishers rarely work in the same team. It is possible for finishers to work alone.

The usual working week is 39 hours, Monday to Friday, but self-employed dry liners often work additional hours. On some projects, e.g. in shopping malls or office blocks, it may be necessary to work at night or at weekends, to avoid disruption to business.

Dry liners work mainly under cover, on building sites. However, when doors and windows have yet to be installed, conditions can be cold and draughty. The work can involve a great deal of lifting, carrying, standing, bending and kneeling, as well as working off mobile access towers. Dry liners wear protective clothing.

The work involves traveling, usually in the local area. On major projects, such as facilities for the 2012 Olympics, it may be necessary to work away from home. A driving licence is useful, although not essential.

A dry liner with NVQ Level 2 may start on £20,000 a year or more.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Dry lining offers good opportunities because it is one of the newest and fastest growing building trades. On many construction projects it has replaced traditional plastering. There is a shortage of skilled dry liners. It is possible to work anywhere in the UK, although the areas of greatest demand are London and the south-east.

The main employers are specialist dry lining contractors. The majority of dry liners are self-employed, working for specialist contractors.

Vacancies may be advertised in local Jobcentre Plus offices, Connexions centres and the local press. It is also advisable to approach local companies direct to ask about jobs, and whether they are taking on trainees or apprentices. The Association of Interior Specialists (AIS) and the Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors (FPDC) maintain a list of member contractors on their websites.

Education and Training

There are no set entry requirements. GCSE's in maths, English and technology subjects are useful for further training and for aspects of the job that involve measurements and calculations.

The Foundation Certificate in building craft operations, run by the Construction Awards Alliance (CAA), is available in some schools for 14-16-year-olds. It is designed to prepare students for work in construction craft occupations.

The Diploma in construction and the built environment may be relevant for this area of work.

It is possible to be employed as a trainee dry liner straight from school and train on the job. Apprenticeships may be available. Candidates are usually required to take a skills learning exercise. Information and advice on careers in construction and applying for Apprenticeships is available on the ConstructionSkills website: www.bconstructive.co.uk.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Apprentice dry liners spend the first 15 weeks on block release, offered at a limited number of training centres. This covers technical training, and may also include an induction course and key skills training. Apprentices work towards certification in various areas, such as the use of mobile towers, and are expected to undertake a health and safety test. The remainder of the programme (up to two years) is spent on site with the employer to gain work experience. The Apprenticeship leads to an NVQ Level 2 in dry lining.

The Apprenticeship framework also includes qualifying for the appropriate card scheme, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). This provides evidence that of competence to work on site. On most construction sites, dry liners will need to have a CSCS card. For further information, see website: www.cscs.uk.com.

Apprenticeships in dry lining have been developed in close consultation with the interior systems industry sector. Further information on the programme is available from the training manager at the FPDC.

An NVQ Level 3 in dry lining will be available from summer 2009 for dry liners who wish to progress their careers.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Dry liners should:

  • Be physically fit.
  • Have good hand-to-eye co-ordination.
  • Have good teamwork skills.
  • Be able to pay attention to detail.
  • Be able to measure accurately.
  • Be able to understand written instructions.

Your Long Term Prospects

Many dry liners are self-employed and work as subcontractors. Some set up their own firms, employing other dry liners.

There are opportunities for promotion to supervisory positions and to take higher level NVQ's. Experienced dry liners can become occupational work supervisors in charge of a gang. Further training is also available for people wishing to become construction site supervisors and managers.

With further qualifications, it is possible to move into technician level jobs, or to become an instructor in a training centre or further education college. With additional training in assessment, experienced dry liners may become NVQ assessors.

It may be possible to find contract work abroad.

Get Further Information

Association of Interior Specialists (AIS),
Olton Bridge, 245 Warwick Road,
Solihull, West Midlands B92 7AH
Tel: 0121 707 0077
Website: www.ais-interiors.org.uk

Construction Awards Alliance (CAA),
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 0844 844 0113
Website: www.caalliance.co.uk

ConstructionSkills, Head Office,
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 0300 456 7577.
Websites: www.cskills.org and www.bconstructive.co.uk

Federation of Plastering and Drywall Contractors (FPDC),
1st Floor, 8/9 Ludgate Square, London EC4M 7AS
Tel: 0207 634 9480
Website: www.fpdc.org.uk

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