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Green Building News

U.S.-Made Plaster Product Line Launches in China

The U.S. sees so many imports from Asia it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that American goods are gaining traction overseas. One example: American Clay’s (green) earth plaster finishes

Smooth and breathable. American Clay’s Porcelina plaster, unsealed.
Image Credit: American Clay Inc.

GBA added American Clay’s earth plaster to its product guide a couple days ago, citing the product’s U.S.-sourced materials, pre-consumer recycled content, and release of minimal pollutants.

Beyond the greenness, flexibility, and durability of its plaster, though, is an international dimension to the American Clay enterprise: it is exporting to Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Antigua, Thailand, and, as the company announced last month, China.

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, American Clay makes its plaster compounds from clay, aggregates (including post-industrial recycled marble dust), nontoxic mineral pigments, and boric acid mold inhibitor. Its veneers, which are applied in a thickness of about 3/32 in. (approximately the thickness of two credit cards), are intended for residential and commercial interiors. A key feature is that, unlike concrete, gypsum, marble, lime, and decorative acrylic plasters, American Clay is designed to breathe and remain flexible.

Long working time, little waste

If left unsealed, American Clay plaster has a very long working time – up to several days, the company says – during which it can be rewet and reworked, and excess plaster can be broken up and rehydrated. The clay can be applied over painted or sealed surfaces or gypsum plasters, and, with appropriate preparation, over wallboard with joint compound, brick, concrete block, and most other surfaces.

American Clay decided to export to China after the company’s earth plaster finish received a patent in February and a visit to the country and demonstration there by company cofounder and CEO Croft Elsaesser attracted significant interest. The company says its target audience in China is its burgeoning middle class, which is paying more attention to interior aesthetics and even ecological issues such as climate change. Best of all, the middle class has money to pay for home improvements.

In the U.S., the cost of American Clay finishes (there are four) varies with the region of the country and scale of the project, but in very broad terms, the company says, prices may range from $2.25 to $9 per square foot, materials and labor included. Excluding labor, product prices range from 80 cents to $1.15 per square foot of wall space.

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