A Guide on Commercial Building Materials for Wet Climates

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Moisture presents a significant problem for building contractors working in the New England area. The wet climate leaves both commercial and residential buildings susceptible to a wide array of problems, including poor energy efficiency, mold and structural damage. These issues can be addressed with a construction approach that emphasizes moisture control. Such a strategy must be well-rounded, taking the grade of the property, the potential drainage and the appropriate building materials into account. With a little extra planning and an investment in moisture-resistant materials, the potential for climate-related damage can easily be minimized.

Polythylene And Drainage For Foundation Moisture Control

Wet climate drywall and flooring may require adjustments for climate, but ultimately, the most important area to address is the structure's foundation. Although seemingly sound when first built,time, a New England structure's foundation can quickly become susceptible to damage as a result of constant exposure to moisture and soil gases. Vapor control for foundation slabs can be accomplished with the simple addition of polythylene sheeting which, in addition to offering moisture protection, will keep termites at bay. Ideally, the polythylene sheeting will cover the entirety of the slab, as well as the full exterior face of the grade beam. Wooden building materials should not touch soil, as this will hasten any potential damage brought on by moisture.

Drainage inlet in grass roadside swale

In addition to polythylene sheeting barriers, additional steps may need to be taken to ensure proper drainage, particularly for below-grade portions of a structure's foundation. The earth should be sloped away from the structure on a modest grade, with drainage swales created so as to carry away rainwater. Hills are plentiful in New England, so most contractors can expect to work with sufficiently graded land. However, for flat areas, a similar effect can be created with the help of a slab built above the grade. Although this approach will necessitate the use of steps in order to enter the building, it will ultimately ensure that the foundation remains dry.

Moisture And Mold-Resistant Drywall

Affordable and versatile, drywall continues to be a very popular building material in the New England area. Unfortunately, without the help of special treatments, standard drywall may be susceptible to moisture-related damage or even mold. Both of these potential problems can easily be avoided with the use of treated drywall.

Mold and moisture-resistant drywall are not one and the same; as such, it is important to carefully consider the chief concerns surrounding a structure before making a choice. Although these types of drywall are usually purchased separately, some suppliers include aspects of both mold and moisture-resistance in their drywall products, making them ideal for wet New England climates.

Moisture-resistant drywall is marked by the presence of special coatings designed to keep moisture from permeating the drywall's surface. Mold-resistant drywall replaces the standard paper backing with fiberglass mats. A coating similar to that used in moisture-resistant drywall may also be included. The lack of paper backing removes the organic materials on which mold feeds. Although this approach can be quite effective for keeping mold at bay, it should also be accompanied by proper ventilation and other mold-inhibiting practices.

Greenboard As An Alternative To Mold And Moisture-Resistant Drywall

Greenboard is a cost efficient alternative to moisture-resistant drywall

Although moisture-resistant drywall is the top choice among most building contractors and project managers, greenboard may be a viable alternative for projects with limited budgets. While mold-resistant takes paper backing completely out of the equation, greenboard utilizes a special paper covering designed to resist moisture. The paper backing has a light green tint, which explains this specialty drywall product's unique name. Greenboard is definitely not water-proof and thus, is best used in areas prone to slight dampness, as opposed to direct exposure to water.

The constant presence of moisture creates a number of challenges for New England based building contractors, but fortunately, these can be addressed with targeted drainage tactics, as well as materials specifically designed to resist both mold and moisture. The inclusion of moisture-resistant materials and techniques will ultimately result in a structure that is durable, comfortable and most importantly, safe.

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1. Photo credit: Aaron Volkening / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

2. Photo credit: PatHayes / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Source: http://www.epa.gov/mold/i-e-r.html

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.