(This post has been updated to reflect the accuracy of the shoji door material, Opal Rice, which is actually made from fibreglass not rice paper! Although it certainly does look like rice paper.)
Shoji ~ Traditionally a sliding screen door or wall made of latticed screen and paper used to screen an area, thus making it private.
Today, I’m going to show you a part of our house-to-be that I’m not only excited about but also epically grateful for: our custom made Shoji Doors, which have been constructed, sealed with a suitable sealant MIROTEC WB 8060—which was tested by me—and are ready and waiting at the Shoji Screens and Doors factory: where they have been since December last year!
(The hold up: We were waiting on our Augusta Boral Limestone bricks) from Boral in Geelong since Christmas; you see, since they’ve had to come from WA, they actually had no code in Boral’s system so got lost in business bureaucracy. Hence the plastic around the house to protect it from rain and mould entering. Our bricks cannot go up until our European made PVCu Double-Glazed, Thermally-Broken Windows from Zenit Windows are installed. So the arrival of the Limestone bricks and the soon-to-arrive windows are synchronistic enough to have us moving forwards and onwards! Apparently, in the building industry, there are always going to be hold-ups, I’m told by, like, just about everyone.
The bricks and windows about to go up, enclosing around the skeleton of our castle, made from kiln-dried hardwood, which was supplied by Calco – Trusses and Timber (who also gave me products to test before we went ahead): another awesome company who’ll be featuring at:
The Labyrinth: aka the ‘Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House‘ project and in the book, Freedom: Build An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Home due out in 2017!
What’s great about our Shoji Doors, is they may have already outgassed completely because they were painted last year, which is wonderful; because even after we have completed the house there is another 2 -3 months of outgassing it first before I can actually live in it due to everything being new.
I have to make sure all products containing solvents and petrochemicals have been personally tested for my chemical sensitivities. Or, I can’t live in the house, which essentially makes me homeless until Dan can sell it. I am on the Disability Support Pension; and it’s only through the good grace of Dan that I even have the chance to build a safe home, let alone write about it! The specialist’s letter specifically says I need to avoid particular products like solvents. And given the investigation into me having CIRS that’s going on right now (I have an MRI this Thursday), solvents are even more of an issue.
And considering our shoji doors surround our bedroom on two sides: the bedroom has a small retreat room, which overlooks the bush and bay, a set of two shoji doors close off this area from my bedroom; the other side of the bedroom has set of shoji doors leading out into the upper living area.
More on our awesome Shoji doors:
They are made from oak wood
And the white rectangles look like Opal Rice Paper, which is an opaque-white fibreglass that has the texture and actual look of real rice paper! (Shoji Doors and Screens now have an acrylic version of the same Rice-Paper look material.)
Here’s the details for our wonderful Shoji Screens and Door supplier:
Shoji Screens & Doors
9 Nevilles St, Underwood QLD 4119
07 3208 6331
What I like best about this company is the fact that they took my medical illness absolutely seriously without even asking to see the doctors letter, and now (6 months after placing our order) that I’ve been assessed for a diagnosis of CIRS and it’s now blatantly imperative I avoid any chemical-irritants such as solvents (often used in lacquers and paints). Most of the companies I’ve dealt with, I’ve explained it as ‘Inhalant Allergies’ to solvents, fragrances etc because that’s what my original treating specialist has said. (It’s no big deal: chemical sensitivities are just a symptom of many conditions or they can be, controversially so, the actual condition itself, aka MCS or EI!) So after I explained my situation and our project, I received this back from just one of the most helpful assistants at Shoji Screens and Doors, Karen:
“… Should you still wish to proceed further we can supply you with a completed sample corner section of a door & insert panel using our usual joinery products and lacquer. We will leave it for a week for the lacquer to dry completely and then post it you for your allergy testing. Just let me know.”
And then, Shoji Screens and Doors sent out a lovely sample piece of the wood glued together, holding the ‘rice-paper-look fibreglass’ in the middle. It was so exciting to hold this little piece of Shoji! It was one of the first samples, I tested.
However, at first I just wasn’t sure about this product because upon first opening of the package I noticed a kind of vague cleaning product type scent. A scent of orange maybe? Like someone had peeled a mandarin then packed the Shoji sample into bubble-wrap package, sending it off to me. My breathing wasn’t impacted but I noted the odour, indicative of orange solvents, all the same, and thinking what that might be like on a grander scale, I swallowed my nervousness, and the possible idea that maybe I was just being overly cautious, or about to ask a silly question, and I immediately rang the business: after speaking to Damien at Shoji Screens and Doors who suggested we try another one; ergo, this time painted with an eco-paint that’s low voc.
The type of paint used on children’s wooden toys,
He also sent out a Material and Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to show what exactly was used previously:
I was so impressed with the service and kindness of the staff at Shoji doors, I barely complained, just described the smell, questioning if had been in contact or had chemical-irritants in the form of solvents in it. (We enquired about the doors in 2014, sample tested in 2015, finally purchasing 3 sets of sliding shoji doors and 1 single door, so even though we had the eco-friendly, allergy-free conversation when I first contacted Shoji Screens and Doors, a year later, when ordering the sample, I didn’t reiterate my needs as far as avoiding allergens and irritants went). You know when you have that feeling in your gut when you know you have to confront someone about chemical usage, and you feel a little nervous? Well, I didn’t need to worry about that at all! Damien at Shoji Screens and Doors insisted on sending me a new sample painted with a specifically, low voc, low allergenic paint speaks volumes about the type of company they are: responsible, truly eco-friendly.
And he sent me another MSDS for it. Here they both are embedded here in this page via Google Docs: After I queried if the first sample had been wiped down with a cloth that maybe had some cleaning detergent containing chemical irritants in the ingredients, I was sent a new one painted with a new product Damien kindly sent over the MSDS, which I didn’t really look at but have put here for others to read in case it helps them make a decision on what product to use.
It tested fine overnight on my bedside table: no breathing issues at all. Damien said that maybe it was the 1st conventional paint used on that 1st sample; consequently, discussing the use of Mirrotone Low Volatile Organic (VOC) paint on the new sample.
MIROTEC WB 8060 Clear Water Based Topcoat
MIROTEC WB 8060 is a clear, single pack, water based topcoat. It is easy to apply and low yellowing.
Single pack, no pot life issues to manage and less waste of product.
Water white and low yellowing, it is ideal for use over blonde timbers and liming stains.
Higher solids content than clear nitrocellulose and precatalysed lacquers with similar chemical resistance to clear precatalysed lacquers.
Low VOC (solvent content), non-flammable, low odour, safer for workers and the environment.
Formaldehyde free, zero formaldehyde emissions in rooms in which coated articles are installed or used.
Isocyanate free, does not require air assisted face masks or other respiratory personal protective equipment for application.
Pthalate free, it is ideal for children’s toys.
Complies with the Green Building Council Australia: Green Star – Office Design v3 & Office As Built, Table IEQ-13.1 Maximum TVOC Content Limits for Paints, Varnishes and Protective Coatings.
MIROTEC WB 8060 is classified as a Group 1 material (In accordance with Specification A2.4 of the Building Code of Australia). (Average specific extinction area: 139.1 m2/kg. Refer tp Specification C1.10 section 4(c) of the Building Code of Australia.
Sample 2 painted with low voc water based sealer: MIROTEC WB 8060 Clear Topcoat
Our carpenter, Damien has discussed with us how he can make them fit (I think via planning them to fit snug as a bug) into slider cavities that are set in tiles tightly to help with air-tightness.
On the second sample, Damien and Karen organised for MIROTEC WB 8060 Clear Topcoat to be used on, it had no chemical odour on arrival. And I slept with it on my bedside table to make sure it didn’t impact on my breathing.
MIROTEC WB 8060 Clear Topcoat is an easy to use water based topcoat that is water white and low yellowing, making it ideal for use over blonde timbers and liming stains. Being low VOC it has also helped many of our customers to achieve the criteria required for the Green Star rating they are working towards, as it complies with the Green Building Council Australia: Green Star – Office Design v 3 & Office As Built, Table IEQ – 13.1 Maximum TVOC Content Limits for Paints, Varnishes and Protective Coatings.
MIROTEC WB 8060 has also been Fire Rating tested and is classified as a Group 1 material (In accordance with Specification A2.4 of the Building Code of Australia). (Average specific extinction area: 139.1 m2/kg. Refer to Specification C1.10 section 4(c) of the Building Code of Australia.
For more information on our water based coatings click here
The shoji doors were also Quin’s idea: he really queried us on so many elements in regards to style, as well as materials suitable for my allergies and sensitivities, all structured around ecological values minimising our overall footprint on the planet. He also discussed with us the importance of testing every product before using it.
The Japanese theme came up a lot as did walled gardens with peaky holes in the fence surrounding the cottage out the back! The minimalist look, natural earthy colours and ways to make our house look modern and ‘homey’ while still adhering to the needs of my disability have turned out well–except for in a couple of instances, which we are trying to, and will fix.
However, at least we’re happy with our choice of company for our shoji doors. I can’t wait until this project is finished and I can show you the prototype for an allergy-free and eco-friendly safe house for people with conditions related to chemical sensitivity. But more so, I can live in a house that doesn’t make me ill due to mould, solvents or petrochemicals and fragrances.
Now, as John Snow say’s, “Winter is coming.” And Dan and I both know that I need to be able to move in by winter or tough it out in my beach rental until the house is fully-fitted, out-gassed and ready for me to live inside of. Or:
Rent another house that’s not a WDB until it’s ready…
Thank you, Shoji Screens and Doors for being so awesome about my health condition. You are number 1! xo
Shoji Screens and Doors Portfolio
Technical Drawings for Shoji Doors and Screens
Shoji Design Guide