Is there such a thing as perma shield water proof sheet rock?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ February 3, 2011 ~ Comments

I've used Wonderboard, but this stuff they're showing me isn't green! I am a renter in a NYC apartment, built around 1960. I have had a leak from the apartment upstairs in my 1/2 bathroom and master bath which share a common wall. The leak comes through the ceiling in the 1/2 bath in kind of a square shape. In the master bath, the leak is only slightly apparent in the ceiling.

Jane C. ~ New York, New York

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Jane, I had heard apartment living could be tough in New York and your story seems to confirm it. The first thing I'll say is that I'm not an attorney and can't give you any legal advice on matters such as withholding rent and such. However, based on the the length of time the leak existed and how much water you heard behind the sheetrock on your walls and ceiling, it would not surprise me if you eventually had a health hazard in your apartment due to mold and mildew.

It sounds like your super and the building management have the same attitude toward mold that many builders had up until recently and that was to refuse to believe it was a problem. Many builders simply thought it was an issue that had been blown completely out of proportion, was expensive to fix, and was best handled with some stain killer and a coat of paint.

Things have changed since those days and most builders and landlords now know that leaks and water damage can lead to mold and mildew, and if they are not handled correctly and promptly, those issues can lead to illnesses and lawsuits. It's pretty rare these days for a landlord or builder not to take immediate action if there is a chance of a water leak leading to mold problems.

I have never heard of permashield sheetrock, but he might have meant that it was simply wonderboard or some other sort of waterproof wall board. I would be surprised if a building built during the '60s had that sort of sheetrock in the bathrooms, but if there were any renovations, it could have been installed along the line. Unfortunately, waterproof sheetrock inhibits mold and mildew, but it doesn't prevent it and it does absolutely nothing for all the wet materials that it's covering up. The ventilation they're bragging about in the building isn't doing much for all the framing and possibly insulation in the walls that got wet from the leaks.

I suggest you tell your landlord that you want a report from an inspection company that specializes in mold and mildew issues stating that there are no problems in your apartment. If they refuse, it might be worth it to hire an inspection company as that way you will have a legitimate reason to stop paying rent if they don't take any action to a positive report. I would think there are plenty of those types of inspection companies in New York. I hesitate to say it shouldn't cost much to inspect an apartment as I know everything is expensive in the City.

If the inspection company finds evidence of a problem and the management of the building still tries to act like it's nothing to be concerned with, the City Health Department or Building Inspection Department might be interested. Tenants shouldn't have to worry about mold and mildew issues while paying rent to live in an apartment regardless of whether it's a luxury address on the East Side or one maybe not quite as nice.

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