Believe it or not, basic building construction hasn’t changed that much in the last 100 years. Consequently, builders still frame, dry-in, do electrical and plumbing in pretty much the same order they did in 1920 (yes, people had electricity and indoor plumbing). But, what has changed are the tools and materials they use to do the work. Some tools and materials make the job easier (think nail gun versus pounding nails manually), and some improve the quality of the finished product (think lead-free paint). Then there’s the rare unicorn – a product like MagPanel® that makes the job easier AND improves the finished product quality.
What is MagPanel®?
MagPanel® is a magnesium oxide building material product. You’ll find it inboard or panel form. It’s a building material that replaces plywood, backer board, sheetrock, and many other building products. There’s a smooth front and a sanded back.
But the exterior surfaces aren’t that important. It’s what’s you find between the front and back that’s magic.
Meet magnesium oxide.
Magnesium oxide is a compound made up of two magnesium molecules with a positive charge and two oxygen molecules with a negative charge. When those molecules get married, they form a solid relationship. And it’s one that lasts. For an example, consider this: the Chinese mixed magnesium with mortar to build the Great Wall of China.
Therefore, the same powerful ionic bonds that keep the Great Wall standing are what give MagPanel its incredible strength.
Now, when this magnesium and oxygen relationship occurs naturally, we call it periclase, and we find it all around the world in metamorphic rocks. However, when the relationship is formed in a factory setting under controlled conditions, the result is MagPanel (MgO boards). They can be used just about anywhere in modern construction.
How Can it Be Used?
Magnesium oxide boards can be used indoors and outdoors. That’s one of its unicorn properties. There are indoor and outdoor grades of plywood and interior and exterior nails. But there’s only MagPanel – you use the same product inside and out. It comes in different thicknesses, but it’s still the same product used in many different indoor and outdoor applications.
Indoor Uses for MagPanel
Talk about versatility! You can use MagPanel indoors for:
- Structural floors
- Structural walls
- Fire-rated walls
- Backerboard for tile
- Drop ceiling tiles
- Cubicle walls
Ambient’s MagPanel® product can be used in interior residential and commercial applications. You’ll find MagPanel perfect for projects in:
- Building shafts
- Data centers
- Equipment shelters
- Modular buildings
Outdoor Uses for MagPanel
MagPanel is moisture-resistant (not water-proof). It doesn’t promote the growth of mold or fungus. Insects don’t eat this stuff. If termites had noses, they would turn them up at MagPanel. So, it is perfect for exterior applications that aren’t exposed to high levels of moisture.
Use MagPanel outdoors for:
- Roof decking
- Trim work
If it’s an area covered (MagPanel is moisture resistant but should not be subject to direct contact with moisture), then MagPanel is probably the material to use. It’s salt-resistant but not well suited for areas with a consistent relative humidity of 93% or more.
Exterior projects where MagPanel works include:
- Building shafts
- Residential and commercial roofs
- Wall sheathing
- Trim boards
- Facias boards
- Clapboard siding
You can even use MagPanel to dry in your tiny house like Matt Prindle.
Once installed, you cover MagPanel with natural or synthetic stucco, brick, plaster, stone, or even just a couple of paint coats.
Are you starting to see the possibilities?
Top 7 Ways MagPanel is Better
So, what makes MagPanel better than the cement board, gypsum board, plywood, or any of the other materials it replaces? So many reasons! Here are the top reasons in absolutely random order.
Termites aren’t the only bugs that eschew magnesium oxide boards. Carpenter bees aren’t interested in MagPanel, and neither are carpenter ants. Wood borers and powder post beetles have zero interest in the material. That’s because it contains zero wood. Not even a trace. Insects cause an estimated $30 million of damage each year in the US. The average termite repair to a home is $3,000. Cut off the food supply, and you stop damage before it starts.
Mold and mildew resistant
Insects aren’t the only natural creatures turned off by MagPanel. Mold, mildew, and fungus don’t care for the stuff either. You can’t say that for gypsum board or plywood. If you get mold growing on sheetrock, you’ve got to take it all out. If you get mold growing on MagPanel, you don’t really have MagPanel. It absolutely doesn’t support mold or mildew.
That makes it resistant to dry rot. And dry rot is a real problem. It damages structural integrity and has been cited in multiple deck failures, some of which resulted in death. Dry rot causes an estimated $17 billion in damages each year in the U.S.
Inside and out, building with fire-resistant materials makes your home safer. MagPanel® is Class A rated for fire resistance. That means it has a flame spread rating of between zero and 25. The National Fire Protection Administration creates recommendations that cities and counties adapt to create fire-safe building codes. Their code rates materials from Class A to E, with Class A providing the most protection against fire. These are the only materials rated effective against severe fire exposure. Gypsum sheathing, plywood, and cement siding can’t make that claim.
Those bonds between magnesium and oxygen are powerful. As a result, MagPanel can stand up to its impacts. It was used in 2 hurricane resistant concept homes on the Gulf Coast because of its extraordinary strength. Its strength can be used for interior work such as ceilings, walls, and floor underlayments. On the exterior, even with concrete block construction, MagPanel is excellent for siding sheathing, window trim, soffits, fascia, and roof decking. It’s strong enough to stand up to the weight of cement or clay tile roofs too.
MagPanel is very cost-effective when compared to the building products it replaces. In the long run, it actually can cost less.
To start, because it’s strong you use less product. You can use a ¼” panel for ceilings, and for walls, a ½” panel will do the job. And because it is easy to finish, installing the panels instead of sheetrock is much less. Not only do you save time, but you also save materials as well. With the initial install, you use fewer materials because you aren’t taping and floating. And later, there’s no need for anchors for installing shelving, towel racks, or grab bars when the time comes.
And because it is so durable, you’ll use it less often. With no chance of damage due to insects, dry rot, or other common offenders, it just lasts longer.
As a bonus, you save money on disposal fees too. Unlike other building materials, you can grind it up or add it to the normal trash stream. There’s no need for special handling and disposal like for gypsum board or other building materials.
Pros and DIY’ers alike love that MagPanel is so easy to use. It is very lightweight. One 4’ x 8’ of MagPanel weighs almost the same as a similar side panel of cement board. And you can score and snap or saw it and then drill and nail it to anything.
No need to purchase exterior and interior grades of plywood, drywall, and cement board for your next project. MagPanel does it all. Literally, from the roof to the floor, one product has many different uses.
The magnesium oxide core provides superior holding capability for screws and nails. Whether you use a nail gun, an electric drill, or good old-fashioned arm work, it fastens right and stays tight. One once your panel is installed, you can forget hassling with toggle bolts, anchors, or molly bolts when you need to fasten something to the surface. You can even route the edges.
It’s easy to join panels too. Taping and floating are relics of the past. Just use any sandable elastomeric joint compound to fill your joints and corners.
DAP makes a product that can be painted with latex paint in 30 minutes. Just think of the time savings when you don’t have to tape and float, wait for dry time, and then sand before you prime and paint.
For pro contractors, time is money, and anytime you can do a better job faster, it’s a good time. For the DIY set, you spend less time working and more time enjoying your project.
MagPanel® is completely natural. It’s a combination of natural minerals, cellulose, and perlite or vermiculite. Remember, when Mother Nature makes magnesium oxide, we call it rocks, and when Ambient makes it, we call it MagPanel. It’s completely safe to use around pets and people. Even people with respiratory problems like asthma, allergies, and COPD don’t need to worry about negative impacts on air quality. Of course, we always recommend that anybody cutting anything wears a mask. No one should breathe dust. And because it’s non-toxic, it’s very eco-friendly.
The Very Eco-Friendly Building Material
Now, this is where things get really exciting. MagPanel goes beyond eco-friendly. It’s eco-based. MagPanel is a truly eco-friendly building material. It does not off-gas toxic fumes and will not corrode pipes like toxic Chinese drywall.
At every stage, this product has a minimal impact on the environment.
At the beginning of life, it uses less energy to produce MagPanel than other building products. There’s no formaldehyde or fly ash used in production. The magnesium used to create magnesium oxide is readily available in abundance. There are large deposits in Canada, Europe, and China making it accessible on almost every continent. The more available the raw resource, the less energy required to move it to production facilities. And speaking of production, during the curing part of the production process, the carbon dioxide is recaptured. Obtaining the raw materials and manufacturing the product has minimal impact on the environment. So, it gets off to a strong start.
Not only does it start strong – it is strong. And because it is so strong, it lasts.
That means you probably won’t replace it until you’re renovating or remodeling again. Remember the Great Wall of China? The best products for the environment are ones that have long lives. MagPanel lasts as long as you want.
And when it comes to the end of life or scrap disposal, you can even grind it up and add it to your gardens. It’s true. If you’ve ever added Epson Salts to your roses, tomatoes, peppers, or other garden plants, you’ve been enriching your soil and feeding your plants with magnesium. Yup, the same magnesium used to make MagPanel is the same magnesium used to make Epsom Salts. The MagPanel life cycle starts from the Earth, and it returns to the Earth when it’s done.
Contractors, you don’t need to pay hauling and disposal fees for leftover building materials. As food grade waste, it goes legally and safely into the trash stream.
Why Builders Love MagPanel
Builders love magnesium oxide panels. Let us count the ways. MagPanel is:
- Versatile – one product many uses
- Moisture resistant – doesn’t warp or swell.
- Resistant to cold and heat – build in any season
- Easy to finish – prime and paint, tile, stucco, clad
- Easy to use – lightweight and flexible
- Class A fire-rated and contains no asbestos
- Easy to store
- Simple and inexpensive to dispose
Builders have been using magnesium oxide for literally thousands of years. It’s time you join them.
Why Homeowners Love MagPanel
Homeowners and do-it-yourselfers love MagPanel too. That’s because there’s a lot to love with this building product. It is:
- Fire resistant
- Mold, mildew, and dry rot resistant
- Sound insulator – more than 40 decibels
MagPanel® comes with a 10-year warranty. Compare that with the products it replaces
|External Grade Plywood
|Interior Grade Plywood
|Durock Backer Board
|Up to 2 years
|30 years (residential only
Why Didn’t I Know About This?
Builders have used magnesium oxide boards all over the world for years. On the other hand, they have only started to gain traction in North America since the early 2000s.
What’s a common building material in Asia is but an emerging technology in the United States. Consequently, builders are just discovering MagPanel’s amazing fire-retardant capabilities (magnesium doesn’t burn). The first cellular phone was produced in 1983, but cell phones weren’t ordinary until 2000 (remember life before cell phones). It takes time for an entire paradigm to shift. Keep in mind, the entire construction process hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, but the materials continue to evolve.
But now you know about magnesium oxide boards and understand why MagPanel® is the building material of the future available today. So, how are you going to work that bit of information casually into your next conversation?
About the Author
Cheryl is our go-to guru for all things sustainable living. She’s on a mission to make your family and our planet thrive! With a heart as big as her passion for sustainability, Cheryl brings you the freshest insights on eco-friendly building products and energy efficiency. 🌱💡
And hey, did you hear about the eco-friendly lightbulb that went to therapy? It finally found its inner “enlightenment”! 😄 Join Cheryl on this green journey, where she’ll tackle your concerns with a smile and a sprinkle of eco-humor!