I get MANY emails from homeowners asking where they can get MgO board for their basements. While some requests are from DIY pros, others are from homeowners frustrated by the lack of local contractors forward-thinking enough to offer MgO-based basement systems. But the good news is that things are changing: More contractors are working with magnesium oxide board because they know it’s the best option for the homeowner (click here to learn why MgO is better than gypsum, cement board, etc.).

Over the next month, I’ll be interviewing contractors across the country who currently offer MgO basement systems for homeowners. We’ll start with Finished Basements Plus in Southeastern Michigan, a great basement finishing company that has completed over 500 basements and is now offering MgO board. I talked with owner and founder Steve Iverson about his decision to integrate MgO board into his basement finishing system.

The Panelman: What is the background of Finished Basements Plus?

Steve: I’ve been in construction for many years, starting as a general contractor. Around 2002, we decided to focus solely on basement finishing for two reasons. First, we realized that there weren’t enough companies out there who knew how to correctly finish a basement. And second, we liked the fact that we could handle the project in house: from initial design through construction and finishing. It’s very satisfying to control the outcome of the project and most importantly…the satisfaction of our customers. I would estimate that we’ve completed about 500 basements – and we made sure each of those 500 customers were happy with the work we did!

The Panelman: Before we get into MgO board, I’d like to know more about your basement systems as a whole. You have a reputation in the industry for having a great “system” for finishing basements.

Steve: I’m glad you mentioned the word “system” because that’s the key to a long-lasting, dry, and comfortable finished basement. We take great care in selecting the structural components that go into our basements, always keeping in mind that we’re building basements – not just your average room. Too often, contractors and even other basement finishers just use standard construction materials. The problem is, that most of these materials aren’t well suited to the basement environment and deteriorate quickly. They’ll use dry wall, wood trim, and other products that might actually encourage mold growth! Finished Basements Plus has the reputation that we do because our basements last. We have sought out materials such as mold-resistant post wraps, cellular PVC, plastic molding and door casings, mold inhibitors in the carpet padding and ceiling tiles, and more. These are basement materials that we seek out – we don’t just stop into Lowes and grab basic materials.

Finished Basements Plus offers design services: they even created this bookshelf to hide a storage room. Their design won a Houzz Award. Pretty cool!

The Panelman: So how does MgO board fit into the system? We know there are other basement finishing wall boards out there like gypsum board, fabric fiberglass, and cement board. What made you choose MgO?

Steve: As with any of the products we install in basements, we are constantly searching for products on the market that will function best in the basement environment. As you know, even if your basement looks dry, the relative humidity is much higher than the rest of your home and we don’t want to risk the chance that mold can grow on any of the material we install in basement finishing. That’s why we’ve switched to the MOXY Panel System for our walls. These panels are constructed of 3” EPS foam sandwiched between magnesium oxide board. Not only do these panels provide up to 50% better insulation than standard fiberglass, they offer amazing benefits that you just don’t get from drywall. For example, magnesium oxide is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, pests, water, and even fire. This means your walls won’t crumble in a few years like drywall – in fact, we offer a Life Time Warranty on our basements, and we can only afford to offer the best products for our customers.

The Panelman: What do you tell customers who want to use gypsum board in their basement?

Steve: It’s cheap and it’s not designed for basement finishing. Regular drywall is not designed for areas of your home with high humidity levels…like your basement. Mold can and will grow on drywall and it is a real concern for the health of your home AND the health of your family! The bottom line is if, or should I say when, you have to remove the drywall because of mold.

The Panelman: What growth do you think the basement finishing market could realize in the next several years?

Steve: I think there is great potential for companies that use products designed specifically for the basement environment, that really put customer comfort first. Take HVAC for example, we’ve found success by offering an innovative air system that includes a dual air filter and dehumidifier with Energy Star ratings. Not only are customers seeing savings on their energy bills, they’re enjoying a comfortable, dry basement. The market for finished basements will increase once customers understand that there are companies out there that can truly make basements look and feel like any other room in the home. And again, I think MgO-based panels are key in creating that comfortable atmosphere in the basement.

The Panelman: Are there other companies out there in Southeastern Michigan who do what you do? What makes you different?

Steve: No one else in our area offers truly complete basement solutions. The system we have developed takes into consideration all aspects of basement finishing! As for what makes us different, we have five unique benefits for customers.

1) Complete Basement Solution: Like I mentioned earlier, we look at the whole picture of basement health: walls, ceilings, floors, trim, air systems and more
2) Design: We are a full service company! We offer expert design services and work with our customers to make sure their vision becomes reality: we do rendering, floor planning, professional grade drawings, and more. Again, because we specialize in basements, we know how to make basements look more like a lower level of a home instead of an average finished basement….
3) Processes: Our system is streamlined, and we complete all work on time and in an organized, optimized way that is less intrusive on the homeowner.
4) Life Time Warranty: No more worrying that mold will grow in your basement drywall and you’ll lose your investment in a new basement! Our warranty gives customers the peace of mind they deserve to protect their investment.
5) Customer Care: We really strive to take care of each customer from start to finish, we’ve even
become friends with some customers! Ultimately, we want them to feel 100% satisfied with our work. The fact that most of our jobs come from referrals speaks volumes to the quality of work that we do.

The Panelman: If you are a contractor like Finished Basements Plus and are interested in offering your customers a basement waterproofing system that actually lasts (ahem, unlike drywall), then contact me and I can help connect you with a few manufacturers who offer finished basement systems that use MgO board. Just drop me a line!

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