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Bathroom renovation highlights mold-resistant drywall technology

When Nate and Kyle Smith moved into their Charlotte home about 18 months ago, they knew they’d probably make renovations or additions someday. They didn’t expect those changes would come in 2017, nor did they expect they’d get a new $15,000 bathroom for free.

The bathroom before the renovation. Photo courtesy National Gypsum.

The bathroom before the renovation. Photo courtesy National Gypsum.

But that’s exactly what happened when the couple won a home renovation as part of the PURPLE-to-Perfect contest sponsored by Charlotte-based drywall manufacturer National Gypsum.

“I couldn’t have imagined everything they did when I entered the contest,” said Nate as he surveyed the completed bathroom earlier this month. “The project took them about six weeks after we picked out the design and pieces we wanted.”

Nate and his wife Kyle worked with TV personality and interior designer Anitra Mecadon on the project, but the couple had final say over the materials used.

“Every week we’d see new boxes and packages of building supplies being delivered as the project slowly began to take shape,” Nate said. “It was all very exciting.”

The PURPLE-to-Perfect contest was dreamed up by the National Gypsum marketing department as a way for the company’s signature drywall brand to gain a foothold in the residential construction market.

“We are trying to promote our Purple board,” said Jay Watt, director of product marketing for National Gypsum. “About 14 years ago, energy conservation was becoming more of an issue. All dwellings – homes, hospitals etc. – started closing up and becoming tighter. That saves energy but you eliminate all drafts which leads to mold.”

Those energy savings came at a cost, Watt said, and National Gypsum’s newest product at that time was made to combat the sickness-causing growths.

Nate Smith with his newly renovated bathroom. Photo by Scott Baughman

Nate Smith with his newly renovated bathroom. Photo by Scott Baughman

“We had a competitor that came out with a fiberglass faced product to fight the mold,” Watt said. “We came out with Purple Board as a paper-faced wall board. Paper will eventually decay and turn into sugars. Those sugars feed the mold. But if you treat the paper, like we do, you can get a better product that is mold-resistant.”

The anti-mold plan seemed to also be a pro-market plan. Purple Board took the institutional and commercial construction markets by storm, Watt said. By 2009, National Gypsum was the standard bearer for anti-mold drywall in the commercial market. So much so, the company had to take some competitors to court when various other shades of purple-colored drywall started showing up in the marketplace.

“All our competitors started making purple board and it became a standard,” Watt said. “We got a trademark, won our court case, and now we want to take that success in commercial jobs and move it to success in residential. That market still uses the ½-inch paper face drywall that is the cheapest. This performance drywall is a little more expensive but if mold gets on the surface you can wipe it off without worrying about the cavity behind the wall facing.”


The newly renovated bathroom includes a two-way shower door. Photo by Scott Baughman

This is the fifth year of the campaign to bring more awareness of the brand. For this year’s contest, there were two other winners. Tim and Lauren Oliphant of Olathe, Kansas, received a $25,000 media room and Richard and Gretchen Lindlau of Dousman, Wisconsin, received a $10,000 garage makeover.

Nate entered a short video of the couple’s original bathroom to win the contest. He showed National Gypsum their outdated and tiny bathroom with 30-year-old tile, old carpeting and a leaky shower door – all potential contributors to mold, moisture and mildew.

Dane Howard of Davidson-based DBH Construction and Renovation handled the work locally in Charlotte.

“We had to change the location of the drain and dig into the concrete slab,” Nate said. “There was a lot they had to deal with. But it was amazing and so much fun being able to maintain some of the surprise for the finished project.”


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