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This Mold House redux: Serve my gypsum dry

NolaVie editor Renee Peck wrote This Mold House for The Times-Picayune for four years after Hurricane Katrina. She is reposting a number of her favorite columns in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the storm. This article originally was published in The Times-Picayune InsideOut section on Jan. 28, 2006.

The Red Cross draws volunteers from across the country, but that organization has nothing on me.

My painter/carpenter is from Kansas City, my drywall installer from Natchez, my contractor from Atlanta.

Finding workers these days takes luck and ingenuity.

I found a mold remediation company by looking up the list of Louisiana-licensed remediators online. I started calling the As and hired the first company that could come take a timely look at my fusaria and fusillium.

Then, due to the fact that there's more mold to get rid of in New Orleans than there is tea in China, the company went into partnership with an Atlanta remediation company. That company also remodels houses, so I got not only a mold expert, but also a potential contractor.

I soon discovered, however, that it wasn't going to be that easy.

"We need to get bids," said my husband, Stewart, obviously not a bird-in-the-hand type of guy.

"Bids these days are like pollen spores," I said. "You know they're floating around out there, but try landing one."

"We need to get bids," replied Stewart.

Since marriage counseling wasn't included in our insurance settlement (which paid only half what it's going to cost to redo the kitchen anyway), I started making calls.

Four companies agreed to send out someone to give us a remodeling bid. Two showed up. Neither got around to submitting a price.

"No one else would give me a bid," I told Stewart, neglecting to mention that my recent conversion to energy-efficient, mold-resistant construction methods may have spiked the process.

"What would you say to paperless drywall?" I had asked each prospective contractor, like a bachelorette interviewing suitors on "The Dating Game."

"It's too expensive," said one.

"Don't know it," said another.

"Can't get it," said a third.

"I never use anything else," said Shane Kitchens, the Atlanta mold remediator/contractor.

I had found my perfect match, and he was available.

FACTS ABOUT PAPERLESS DRYWALL

OK, conversations about drywall are, well, dry. But consider that 70 percent to 80 percent of the surface of your home consists of drywall, that the most commonly installed drywall is sheathed in paper . . . and that both mold and termites eat paper. You see where that takes you: Right back to fusillium land.

Paperless drywall is made of a gypsum core sheathed in fiberglass instead of cellulose. That means mold and termites won't eat it. Here are some facts about it:

  • Paperless drywall comes in 4-by-8- or 4-by-12-foot boards, just like regular drywall.
  • Paperless drywall is not hard to find -- mine came from Home Depot -- but it is more expensive. This week, a 4-by-8 board of half-inch paperless drywall was running $11.41, while the same size Sheetrock was $8.47.
  • The product is taped and floated just like other drywall, but is heavier. It can be textured and painted like any other drywall.
  • It is not mold proof -- mold can grow on virtually any surface under the right conditions -- but is mold resistant as it removes food for mold.

 

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]