A patented synthetic gypsum product from USG Boral was selected by the contractor commissioned for the interior works at the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal to replace the originally specified fibre cement materials.

A multifunctional sustainable material, USG Boral’s patented Fiberock was used extensively for ceiling linings, wall linings in stairwells and on bulkheads in the high traffic Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at West Circular Quay, as part of the improvements to the premier cruise facility.

Two different fibre cement materials were originally specified for the project. However, the contractor, Interior Works, preferred to use just one product for the two applications to increase efficiency on site and reduce waste. USG Boral Fiberock was the chosen material, which also came with additional benefits such as resistance to water, fire, mould and impact as well as excellent acoustic qualities.

About 800 square metres of Fiberock was supplied for the OPT upgrade project, with USG Boral staff working closely with Interior Works to ensure the material reached the site on time. The tight schedule, several trades working two shifts a day, and limited site access during the day were key challenges that needed to be addressed through precise coordination of deliveries to the installation teams.

Liz Borg, USG Boral national account manager - commercial explained that Interior Works was keen to use one product as a substitute for the two specified 6mm and 9mm fibre cement boards, substantially streamlining the fitout process.

According to Interior Works director, Darren Hitchon, though Fiberock was not specified on this project, they were confident about achieving a better outcome by using the gypsum product. Having installed more than 30,000 square metres of Fiberock at the Hornsby Mental Health Hospital previously, they knew from experience that they could control the outcome more; additionally, the material painted up much more easily, and gave a better finish than the product that was specified.

Interior Works site manager Lloyd Pennings added that their installers found Fiberock easier to cut and lighter and faster to install than the specified fibre cement products. Since they could use it on interior and exterior soffit surfaces, they had less inventory to manage in terms of delivery to and around the site, and were also able to reduce wastage.

A leading global manufacturer of building materials and solutions, USG Boral has been innovating with synthetic gypsum for more than 30 years, and developed the technology for Fiberock 15 years ago. Similar to paperless plasterboard, Fiberock gets its strength from a patented process of growing gypsum under high pressure, which interlinks the crystals with paper, eliminating any need for paper on the outside or the potential for delamination, as it is a solid matrix.

Approved by GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) as a sustainable product, USG Boral Fiberock boards are recyclable and can be reused by removing it and rebating the edges before being reapplied. Fiberock also contains very little new material, incorporating 10 per cent recycled cellulose (from post- industrial paper and cardboard) and 85 per cent re-encapsulated gypsum.

The finished wall system balances its higher cost of board, with time, labour and logistical savings at installation. A single layer of Fiberock achieves the same results as what other walls would with a double layer. The boards also provide longevity, and help create lower maintenance partitions and walls.