Although some of the uproar surrounding the mold issue has quieted down recently, industry experts believe that mold will continue to be an important issue in the home building and remodeling industries. Homeowners are better informed about the potential for mold-related health problems and are looking for solutions that can be incorporated into their projects. Manufacturers are continuing to respond to these concerns with problem-solving introductions.
When Georgia-Pacific introduced the industry's first moisture- and mold-resistant interior wallboard panel, DensArmor Interior Guard, in 2002, the rest of the gypsum industry maintained that the mold problem was largely an application issue — not a product issue. But since then, three manufacturers have acknowledged the need for products to help reduce the opportunities for mold growth, both during and after construction, and have introduced their own mold-resistant panels.
“At first we tried to get construction practices changed, but the industry needed a product that delivers extra protection. None of the products available today are mold-proof, they just provide extra protection,” says Bob Couche, product manager for National Gypsum.
“It's a growing category of business,” says Georgia-Pacific's director of marketing services, Chris Beyer. Georgia-Pacific has also extended its DensGuard family with abuse- and mold-resistant DensArmor Abuse Guard Fireguard panels for interiors.
National Gypsum has introduced Gold Bond Brand XP Wallboard for interior use. U.S. Gypsum now offers Sheetrock Brand Humitek panels for interior use and Fiberock Brand AquaTough abuse- and mold-resistant interior panels for use in wet interior areas. For exterior wall systems, BPB America offers its GlasRoc Sheathing.
Some of the products use facing papers and cores treated with antimicrobials, and two use a glass-reinforced technology; all have been independently tested according to ASTM D3273 standards and have been found effective. But each manufacturer stresses that there is no “silver bullet” for the mold problem. They all emphasize that proper storage and installation of gypsum products goes a long way toward decreasing the potential for mold growth. “It's important for construction professionals to recognize that mold is a moisture control issue that must be managed by proper building design, construction, and maintenance practices. Moisture- and mold-resistant products are only part of the overall solution,” says Dean Updegrove, U.S. Gypsum's product manager for wallboard and plaster.
Despite the higher materials cost of mold-resistant gypsum panels, which can range from 20% to 60% more than the cost of a standard gypsum panel depending on the product, installation costs remain about the same because the panels install the same as standard wallboard. An upgraded interior wall has only a slightly higher overall cost, manufacturers say.