Frequently Asked Questions About Our MgO Boards

Can't find the answer you're looking for? We have shared some of our most frequently asked questions about MagPanel® MgO to hep you out!

MagPanel® is a strong, high quality, fire-proof, mineral-based building material used to replace plywood, fiber cement panels, OSB and gypsum wallboards. It is an extremely versatile product for use with interior and exterior construction. It is mading from bonding certain elements (including magnesium and oxygen) which results in an extremely strong cement-like material. Similar compounds have been used for construction purposes for hundreds of years in such world-famous sites such as the Great Wall of China, Rome's Pantheon, and extensively throughout one of the world's tallest buildings, Taipei 101.

Expensive deposits of magnesium oxide can be found in China, Europe, and Canada. The great White Mountains in China have so much natural MgO, it is estimated there is enough to last another 800 years at today's rate of consumption. Magboard is an incredible building material with seemingly unlimited uses. It can be used in place of drywall, and some of the many applications include sub-flooring and tile backer, ceilings, walls, exteriors, soffits, sheathing, coding substrates, shaft-liner, bathtub enclosures, and exterior siding. When used for exterior projects it must be coated or protected from the elements.

MgO board is harder and stronger than drywall, and it is resistant to fire, insects, mold, mildew, and rot. It is sound and impact resistant, and has good insulating characteristics. It's noncombustible and non-toxic, has a receptive bonding surface, and contains no dangerous toxins like some other building materials. One exciting characteristic about Magnesium board is that it's lightweight while still being very, very strong. Therefore, a smaller amount of MgO board can do the same job (or better) as a greater amount of another material, such as sheetrock. And don't forget, because MgO board is so moisture-resistant, it lasts a very long time. The Great Wall of China is a perfect example of that!

Magboard can be sawed, drilled, router-shaped, scored and snapped, nailed, and painted. It's many uses in the construction field include fireproof materials for ceilings and walls in every type of construction including apartment complexes, theaters, airports, hospitals, and much more.

This amazingly versatile product also happens to be very green (environmentally friendly – not the color green). It has no ammonia, formaldehyde, benzene, silica, or asbestos, and it is completely safe for humans. It's a natural product that can be completely recycled, so it leaves a very small carbon footprint, and has no negative impact on landfills.

Magboard is available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, it comes in a choice of basic colors and textures, and there are different grades and strengths to choose from, depending on the application. Because it is so hard, there is no need to place joints on a stud. And because it is so stiff, thin boards can be used in place of thicker boards of another material.

MagPanel® is a unique, cost-effective building material available across the U.S. The product has been engineered to resolve some of the toughest building challenges faced by architects, contractors, installers, builders and consumers. These include resistance to fire, moisture, mold, mildew, fungus and insects.

MagPanel® is an extremely versatile product and can be used in many applications both interior and exterior.

Exterior Applications:
  • Wall sheathing
  • Fascia
  • Soffit
  • Trim
  • Lap Siding
Interior Applications:
  • Wall panels
  • Ceiling board
  • Tile backer
  • Drop ceiling tiles
  • Fire wall system
Specialty Applications:
  • Office cubicles
  • Room dividers
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS)

MagPanel® MgO Panels are sold in standard 4 × 8 ft sheets and in multiple thickness from 6mm to 20mm.

Yes. MagPanel® is safer than many comparable building products. It is a mineral based product made with non-toxic ingredients. It is completely recyclable and resistant to mold, mildew, fungus and allergens. It is ideal for people who suffer from allergies or asthma. It is also free of carcinogens and silicas.

Purchase MagPanel® directly through Ambient Building Products. We ship directly to your home or business. Read our shipping policy here.

MagPanel® offers many cost benefits. Because of its strength and durability MagPanel® increases the lifespan of structures such as homes and buildings. The cost per sheet of MagPanel® MgO Panels for the same thickness is greater than regular gypsum but the same or less than specialty types and generally less than most cement products.

With MagPanel® you pay a small premium for a huge increase in versatility and applications of MagPanel®. Additional cost savings are found in the installation of MagPanel® because the time to finish the boards can be much less and less product is needed in many applications. In addition, MagPanel® MgO Panels are strong enough to support light shelving, pictures, etc., meaning no need to pre-install backing supports or use more expensive anchors. MagPanel® MgO Panels are completely recyclable can also be disposed of easily. There are no expensive fees such as with the recycling/disposing of gypsum board scraps. Use leftover MagPanel® for a variety of indoor and outdoor projects, such as edging the landscaping, installing shelving, or excess material can be ground up and added to the soil as a nutrient.

When comparing building material costs consider the benefits and features offered by each product. This includes the upfront costs but also the savings recognized during the life of the product. MagPanel® MgO Panels provide a cheaper lifetime cost and a similar installation cost to gypsum when all the expenses are considered.

Cost benefits of MagPanel®
  • Faster installation, using a “tile” approach to joint finishing boards allow the boards to be painted the same or next day.
  • No corner beads are required leading to a significant savings compared to gypsum installation.
  • No backing materials are required for shelving, cabinets, grab bars, etc.
  • Virtually expense free disposal with no dedicated waste removal needed.
  • Thinner boards can be used - 12mm for walls and 6mm for ceilings thereby reducing costs.
  • Expansive resistance adds stiffness to walls and will perhaps reduce bracing or the need for interior plywood shear panels that are necessary with traditional construction.
  • MagPanel® panels are resistant to moisture, fire, mold, termite, impact, and freeze/thaw.

The possibility of expansion for MagPanel® is low however there is some hydrothermal movement. You can leave smaller gaps to accommodate for lower expansion or shrinking. MagPanel® is highly resistant to extreme outdoor environmental exposure such as rain and strong winds as long as it is properly coated.

No. MagPanel® is considered mmoisture resistant, however during periods of extended exposure, moisture can affect it and it will experience hydrothermal expansion. When used outdoors, Magboard should be covered or coated to protect it from the elements.

It is made by combining the carbon out of magnesium carbonite; commonly called “MgO” due to its chemical composition of magnesium (chemical symbol Mg) and oxygen (chemical symbol O). When oxygen is combined with magnesium under heat and pressure, it can produce a stone-like material: MgO. It is ground up into a powder, which is then combined with water to make a cement-like (adhesive) material. MagPanel® also contains other components but MgO is the primary component.

Pure magnesium, in its raw form, burns. MgO, however, is completely nonflammable and is used for fireproofing.

The chloride content of our magboard is regulated during our manufacturing process and our boards average approximately 8%. Additionally, our dissolvable (free) chloride ion content is less than 5% and our sulfate content averages 0.2%.

MagPanel® MgO Panels are made from natural minerals, Magnesium oxide, Chloride, and Sulphate otherwise known as Epsom salts, along with wood dust (cellulose) perlite or vermiculite and a glass fiber mesh. There are no volatile organic compounds or toxic ingredients. Caution: while the materials used are not harmful, it is strongly recommended everyone wear proper silica/concrete dust respirators when using MagPanel® due to the dust created while cutting and sanding.

MagPanel® can be stored easily indoors. It is highly resistant to moisture, and humidity making it easy to store. MagPanel® should be stored inside in a cool dry place as with any sheet building material. To protect the edges and corners, carry boards on their side. Stack boards flat on dunnage, loose wood, matting or other material and not directly on the ground. Do not allow MagPanel® to bow. Do not stack any other materials on top of MagPanel®. Before installing MagPanel® acclimate the panels for 48 hours in the room where they will be installed.

Finish MagPanel® with most products such as paint, stucco, synthetic stucco, wallpaper, plaster, stone, tile, brick and much more. The strong adhesion properties of MagPanel® also make it a perfect product for Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS), Exterior Insulated Finish Systems (EIFS) and interior wall systems using fabrics.

To finish MagPanel® MgO Panels after installation, begin with a primer. This is required because MagPanel® panels are alkaline in nature. We recommend using a primer that is suitable for concrete or masonry. There are a few popular brands of paint which react molecularly with the cement in MagPanel® forming a UV highly resistant coating that will last for years. Acrylic stucco topcoats or polymer modified cement base coats can also be used and individually applied to the board. Test the topcoats and paints prior to completing the entire project. To properly test the bonding capability of the topcoat, brush on or spray a small area of the MagPanel® with paint, let the board dry and cure. Then make an X with a sharp razor knife, apply masking tape over the cut and press firmly and rip it off like a band-aid. If the paint stays on the board, this indicates the paint and board have a successful bond.

When installing panels, leave a 3 to 6mm wide gap between the panels. Control the depth of the gap using polyethylene backer rods to the point where the width is greater than the joint depth. Use non shrinking paintable caulk applied with a caulk gun, then smooth off excess caulk using a little water and your finger or a caulk smoothing tool. Add a coat of primer when the caulk is cured. After priming, apply a thin coat of spackle or gypsum mud to remove any joint telegraphing. The outside corners of the boards can be glued, sanded or routed smooth and flush and filled with caulk, plaster or grout. Use glue on the inside corners of the boards or butt joint with a bead of painter’s caulk.

The outside corners of the joints can be butted together and then sanded smooth. For a bull nose finish, corners can be routed or mitered. Adding a corner bead of caulk is optional. MgO bonds well to itself, metal, wood and other materials. Apply adhesive to the corner board joints using using ChemLink M1 or a moisture cure urethane adhesive. Review the caulking chart for other tested products.

Ceilings: For ceilings where the board will be fastened by screw to light gauge steel or wood use 8mm or thicker. Use a thicker board if planning to countersink the screw head. For drop down ceilings using MgO as panels, use 2mm or 6mm.

Walls: For most walls a board that is 10mm to 12mm is common. For walls requiring greater fire and impact resistance use a board that is 15mm to 20mm thick.

For walls that have continuous backing, cement or rigid insulation, a thinner board can be used. This is important when weight is a concern. For example, trailer homes have used 6mm as fully supported wall covering boards.

For applications where more strength is needed such as sports courts, or where sound reduction is needed, or for use to support bar countertops, use a thicker board at 20mm.

A few things can cause micro cracking in magnesium oxide boards such as structure movement caused by force from wind or earthquake. Or the structure may expand caused by thermo graphic or hydrometric expansion. The frame used under the boards may change as wood will shrink when dried and metal expands when heated. MagPanel®s shrink during curing and drying to ambient humidity and will have some movement due to thermal or moisture changes. Micro cracking becomes a negligible issue because most interiors maintain relatively even temperatures.

To address and or prevent micro cracking follow a few precautionary steps. First, before installation, allow the boards to acclimatize in the structure where they will be used. Leave a small space between boards and apply a non-shrinking caulking followed by a primer coat of paint. Apply spackle or plaster to hide any imperfections. Finish by using a paint designed to prevent moisture absorption. Isolate joints from the structure by splicing with strips of scrap MgO Board or metal clips to keep the joints between studs.

To fasten MagPanel® panels, use corrosion resistant fasteners. Add extra support by applying a barrier coat of epoxy, ceramic or a similar adhesive. Drywall screws that have a stainless steel or phosphoric coating also work well with MagPanel® panels. For easiest installation, choose screws with self-counter boring heads. Alternatively, use gun nails when applying to both wood and light gauge steel framing with the appropriate pins or nails.

To finish MagPanel® joints, use any top-quality joint compound. Check with the manufacturer of the product to ensure it is compatible with MagPanel®. Use finely ground hydraulic cement fillers such as RapidSet One Pass to establish industrial strength joints. Additionally, urethanes bond well to MagPanel® panels. If using tape and mud is a preference, choose a self-adhesive fiberglass tape and a mud or plaster suitable for moist environments. Most lightweight pre-mixed mud does not like moisture and MagPanel® MgO Panels can have moisture, but they will eventually equalize with the structure.

MagPanel® MgO Panels bond well to itself, metal, expanded polystyrene, wood, and laminates using ChemLink M1 or another moisture cured urethane adhesive.

The density of MagPanel® is around 1 gram per cubic centimeter or just over 2.2 pounds per square foot for 12mm (1/2 inch) board – They are typically heavier than gypsum and lighter than ordinary cement boards.

For optimal results cutting MagPanel® panels, use a thin carbide circular saw or worm drive saw. Rout the edges using carbide tooling. If the construction project is a large project, consider using a diamond bit. MagPanel® panels can be scored with a razor blade and snapped apart from the smooth side. This method does not provide as clean an edge and will require more finishing work. To prevent micro cracking with cuts, glue all corners together.

MagPanel® MgO Panels are ideal for use as a sub floor. Additionally, boards are available in the correct thickness and strength for use as structural sheathing. To determine the proper board grade depends on the design of the floor, joist span, spacing and size, dead load and live loading factors.