Magnesium Oxide Boards: Innovative solution for Architects and Designers?

April 29, 2016

Last December 2015, our company had a stand at Credai Gujarat Builders Exposition in Ahmedabad.

A lot of visitors were very eager to know more about Magnesium Oxide Boards. So that is why I hope this article may provide some clarity.

Magnesium Oxide Boards are usually referred to as MgO boards. It is a factory made product. Most manufacturers can be found in China. Finding a trustworthy supplier can be a hassle and will consume a lot of your time.

The boards are made of Magnesium Oxide, a mineral bonded cement. This mineral supports a lot of important features like fire resistance, water resistance, its light weight, and resistance to mold and mildew. MgO boards are available in various thicknesses and sheet sizes. The board makes a hard sound when you rap with your fingers on it.

Magnesium itself is a silvery metal and is a solid at room temperature. It is lighter than Aluminium. As a metal it is mostly used in alloy form, particularly for lightweight high performance structures like airplanes. Pure Magnesium in its raw form is not stable –it burns. Magnesium Oxide however is the exact opposite: it is completely non-flammable and used for fireproofing.

Magnesiumcabonate is a stone-like material, which exists in large deposits as raw ‘rock’ and is mined like other minerals. It is ground up, crushed and calcined at temperatures between 450C and 900C. During a chemical process Magnesium Oxide is made. This is crushed into a powder with different purities. For usage in building applications purities between 80-85% are good enough.
Photo of Magnesium Carbonate (Magnesite)

Big raw deposits of Magnesium Carbonate can be found in China (80%), India, South Korea, Brazil, Turkey, Greece, USA, Canada and Australia. The deposits to be found around the world are so big that this resource will be with us for decades. In the MgO Board Factory Magnesium Oxide powder will be used together with some other additives as well. These include saw dust, Perlite and Magnesium Chloride. Also fibre mesh is added to build upon the strength of the board. MgO Boards can be used for various applications like walling, flooring, under roofing, ceiling, tile backing and underlayment, furniture and duct covering. In India very nice decorations are made with the boards as they are also very easy to (water) cut by CNC.

SINH™ boards used as duct covering bungalow in Bhavnagar (Gujarat)

When you start designing and use MgO boards, you will find numerous applications to choose from. Like its size (twice as large as gypsum boards) or its weight (half of cement fibre boards) or its water resistance (unlike like Plywood and Gypsum boards).

The MgO Boards also contribute to lower building cost (material, labour, energy):

  • The boards are use in dry construction so you can skip lorries carrying cement & water;
  • The boards enable light weight designs of roofs & floors which will lower your bills to steel constructors;
  • The acoustic capabilities will provide alternative material for ceilings;
  • The boards replace concrete and steel constructions for your roofing thus saving cost;
  • When you need a fire resistant construction you can design thinner layers than you normally would do with traditional materials.

Concluding when you are interested in applying this relatively new material in India, you might consider the following points:

  1. For which purpose am I going to use the MgO Boards?
  2. Can I build upon the specific features of this material?
  3. Can the board help reduce building costs when I design smartly?