Question

Where can healthy building materials (eg, backer board, drywall compound) be bought or ordered from?

Asked by Leo Nosovsky
Walnut Creek, CA

I'm planning a DIY bathroom remodeling project in Walnut Creek, CA. I'd love to use healthy materials, but most of the choices suggested on your site are not available in my area. EcoRock, for example -- if you check the Serious Materials website, it says "EcoRock is currently sold out in select beta projects in California only." Well, I'm in California, but out of luck. KEIM Dolomitspachtel joint compound -- no luck either. DragonBoard -- not around. DensArmor -- I found one place 50 miles from my house that might have it. I was wondering if someone at GreenHomeGuide could tell me where these materials can be bought or ordered from.

Answer

EcoRock is a brand name for an eco-friendly backer board made of 80% recycled content. Although they claim to be sold out, there are several other similar products on the market, such as Green-e board and dozens of other imported Chinese magnesium oxide (MGO) boards.

Magnesium oxide boards

The DragonBoard you mention is one such MGO product that has been imported with mixed reviews.

While it seems to have some amazing properties, such as fire resistance and moisture resistance, the MGO does not seem to adhere well to certain mastics or Portland cement-based thinsets.

  • Although these products are being used commercially in China in a big way, they are not well-known in the U.S. Few companies stock them or understand how to use them, and they are expensive to ship.
  • While they seem to be a healthy material, few, if any, have third-party certifications. Like many products made in China, you have to know your sources or there can be issues. 
  • There is a fellow in Texas, George Swanson, who seems to have lots of knowledge about all these types of esoteric products.

A healthy backer board

Since you simply want a healthy backer board, there are several in the U.S. that should suffice, such as HardieBoard or Schluter's new Kerdi board.

These emit no offgassing and are readily available at most tile showrooms.

Nontoxic drywall compound replacements

If you are looking for a nontoxic drywall compound replacement for the KEIM product, try Murco, made in Texas.

  • They make a complete line of powdered all-purpose joint texture-compound formulated with no VOCs, preservatives, mildewcides or fungicides.
  • The product is made with inert fillers and natural binders only. It contains no slow-releasing compounds, and mixes well with tap water.

In sum, even if someone in your family is chemically sensitive, with a little help you should be able to find some healthy products nearby without spending a fortune and without getting in over your head with exotic products.

 

For more information:

Read "Is there such a thing as green drywall? If so, what alternatives to conventional drywall do you recommend?" a Q&A answered by Mary Cordaro.

Tagged In: drywall

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