Chinese Drywall? Not in San Antonio

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To this day, I still get calls asking whether or not we use Chinese drywall. It’s an important question. If I was a prospective home builder looking for a drywall contractor, I’d be asking the same thing. For years now the headlines from Florida and other affected states have included a steady drumbeat of bad news about Chinese drywall, and I think its time for a local explanation of why the same thing didn’t happen here.

 During the construction boom between 2004 and 2007, prices on domestic drywall board rose so high that it became economically viable for foreign suppliers to enter the market. With some states experiencing demand that far outstripped supply, imported Chinese drywall was their only option. It is estimated that more than 550 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported into the United States during this time. That is enough drywall to build around 60,000 average-sized homes, mostly in the Florida, California and post-Katrina Louisiana markets. Although the Texas construction boom was just as heated as these were, we had one major advantage that they didn’t: location.

 The largest deposits of raw gypsum in the United States exist right here in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. For that very reason, the nation’s largest wallboard manufacturers, USG, American Gypsum and Georgia Pacific all operate huge manufacturing plants here. Since our market was closest to the domestic source, we were also the first market served on the distribution chain. The manufacturers knew as a matter of course that it is cheaper and more profitable to sell to a local market than a distant one, so there was no way they would have allowed themselves to be beaten on price here. Not in their own backyards, and clearly not by inferior Chinese drywall.

 Due to the cooling off of the economy, material prices have long ago dropped to the point where it isn’t even profitable for the Chinese to sell their drywall here anymore. Even if it was, I doubt any supplier would touch it. There is too much stigma, and litigation, attached to it. 

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