We are passionate about green eco-conscious living, healthy lifestyles,
and innovative construction technologies.
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Resilient Plan Blog

03 October 2017

How to build a Resilient home - Magnesium Oxide Board or in short MgO

The majority of people in the United States have never heard about the Magnesium Oxide Board, but this is actually quite an impressive material to use in construction. In fact, MgO represents the most significant technological jump in the building industry since the invention of drywall.

Let me explain in simple terms what the MgO Board is and what it is made out of.

Pure magnesium is a silvery metal, somewhat like aluminum, but lighter. In raw form, it is flammable and not stable. It is widely used to make flares and fireworks. Also, it is used as an alloy for lightweight, high-performance structures like airplanes or racecars.

My experience with Magnesium started very early on. When we were kids, someone told us that if you take Magnesium and Manganese shavings and mix them in the right proportion, you will get a robust explosive material that even in tiny amounts upon ignition would produce a giant ball of bright light and a loud explosion.

Those were awesome days!  After we got our hands on the needed material, our neighbors were not so thrilled, to say the least.

I don't want to scare you; I am not promoting a  construction material that is highly flammable but quite the opposite.

Magnesium, when combined with Oxygen,  under extreme pressure and heat, will produce a stone-like material - MgO.  It exists in massive deposits and is mined like other minerals.

Magnesium oxide is an environmentally friendly building material that has the strength and resistance due to powerful bonds between magnesium and oxygen atoms that forms the magnesium oxide molecules.

When ground up into a powder it is used as a base material for the Magnesium Oxide Board.  In addition to the MgO, different types of additives are included to enhance various properties. Most MgO boards have some reinforcement within its core like a glass mesh and microfibers. Combined with MgO slurry it is used to cast the MgO boards.

Think of MgO as a type of sheets like cement board or drywall but with much-improved characteristics. It has been designed to outperform and replace OSB, plywood, fiber cement, and gypsum boards building products.

It is the healthiest and greenest building material available today on the market that offers unparalleled superior structural and high-impact strength, flexibility, and durability.

On my quest in looking for suitable materials for resiliently built homes, I visited the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, China. I really wanted to see and test the MgO board and feel what it's like. I stopped by many exhibitor booths and talked to their company representatives.

While I was talking with one of them about the MgO strength and durability, he merely offered me to test their product. He handed me a sample of a board of about 10mm think and asked if I could break it.

I am far from being a representation of strength, even though I would like to think that way :) but I would say I am not a weak person either. I tried many times with no success; then I tried the thinner version, and finally, I was able to break the 6mm MgO board.

What can I say? A little humbling experience is always beneficial for the development of a better character.

I was impressed by the MgO boards, and even though I watched many videos online about its qualities, it was different to actually test it myself. But there are many more great properties in this material.

On top of strength, it is mold, rot, and mildew resistant, termites, and pests resistant and impervious to water. Can you believe that? Magnesium Oxide Board can withstand standing water INDEFINITELY after a flood event! And it does not need to be replaced after that.  It will still be dimensionally stable when wet and will remain structural because moisture and water do not affect the MgO Board.

Just recently we had the devastating hurricane Harvey damaging 100,000 homes in Texas. Imagine if those homes would be built using a material like MgO boards and metal frame. It would help save billions of dollars in repairs. Common construction technology of today is way outdated and needs to be replaced with a more modern approach.

Another great benefit of the Magnesium Oxide Board is that it is fire resistant. I do not want to get into lots of details; I think it would be better for my readers to watch this video on YouTube to see MgO built structure easily withstanding fire.

This aspect of MgO is critical because the weakest part of metal framed buildings is the inability to withstand extensive heat during a fire, which will lead to a sudden failure of the structure. With MgO, that problem is completely resolved.

MgO boards can be used throughout the whole house as the exterior and interior material, creating properly build Resilient Home.

The MgO board is a clean and green material that has a very low carbon footprint and can be recycled. It is a mineral that will not contaminate landfills, in fact, it becomes a valuable soil enhancer.

I don't know about you, but I am very excited to build more and more Resilient Houses using MgO boards.

D Koshuba,
Founder, ResilientPlanB.com

We are passionate about green eco-conscious living, healthy lifestyles,
and innovative construction technologies.
We would love to have you join us on our journey
as we share our experiences.