Guide to Materials for Eco-Friendly Home Improvements
When it comes to improving your home’s appearance, naturally you’ll want to take it seriously. Depending on the size of your home improvement project you’ll see an increase in responsibility comparable to the task at hand. You may become your own project bookkeeper, middleman between contractors and even have to play designer on occasion. One thing you might not have given much attention to or considered as a priority is the sourcing of high-quality materials.
While you might think that going green or ensuring a chemical-free home refurbishment might quickly add up to your project’s budget, the great thing is that choosing eco-friendly materials and textiles won’t impact your refurbishment plan.
It simply takes a little bit of know-how and research on eco-friendly materials you could be purchasing. After all, If your improving your home, you will want to take the time and opportunity to improve your home’s sustainability, killing two birds with one stone.
Researching multiple eco-friendly materials can be daunting, and sometimes you get so lost in so many Google terms that you get immediately discouraged. Bear with it as there is a major upside in that you’ll end up with a toxic free, sustainable and freshly refurbished home.
Eco-Friendly Home Insulation
A great eco-friendly product for home insulation are hemp blocks. They are perfect for both interior and exterior insulation while still guaranteeing the advantages of efficient insulation. Hemp is a chemical-free and natural material which regulates temperature through its ability to diffuse accumulated heat. It keeps the heat in the house longer during winter and avoids overheating during hot summer months by regulating indoor humidity.
Hemp blocks meet the strictest conditions of sustainable development: There manufactured using 100% natural materials (hemp and limestone) and have a very positive CO2 footprint since a pallet of hemp blocks store 100kg of carbon.
When it comes to chemical-free building materials, flooring is one of the most important components. Flooring is typically a relatively easy home improvement project but also one that has a massive impact on your home’s design and health.
There are a great number of benefits to eco-friendly flooring materials. Typical flooring materials often found in homes have a large amount of toxins present. By replacing your flooring, you can reduce the large number of toxins, chemicals and elements present in your home with a rather simple project.
This can be evident by eco-flooring contributions to improving your home’s indoor air quality and achieved by finding flooring with as few VOCs as possible. You’ll also want your flooring material to collect as little dust and humidity, in or on the surface, as possible. There are many options to explore with regards to eco-friendly flooring; natural hardwood, toxin-free, laminate flooring, or natural tile.
The main point is to find materials that are free from:
- Polyvinyl Acetate (hormone disruptor)
- PFOAs & PFCs (carcinogen)
- Formaldehyde (carcinogen)
- Toluene (affects kidneys and liver)
- Flame retardants (carcinogen, provokes hyperactivity)
- Styrene (carcinogen, causes kidney and liver damage)
Painting and decorating your home might be another renovation project you’re considering which also can affect your homelife. Not only does this go beyond your mental health when choosing colours but can also affect your physical health if you aren’t careful. Toxic paint can dramatically change your indoor air quality, the danger of which grows the larger the surface space you’ll be covering.
The good news is that there are a lot of options when it comes to high-quality paints that are completely VOC-free. There are even paints made of 100% natural dyes and materials.
A great tip is to search for paints that are lighter in colour because they have fewer VOCs in their composition. Conversely, paints with deeper, darker tones generate more VOCs. It’s also considered a smart move to open windows, use a fan, and cover your furniture with materials like dust sheets, during the painting process (to avoid any paint spatter) and VOC exposure.
A really good practice is to search for GreenGuard Certified Paints or Green Seal Certified Paints.
Essentially, you want your paints to be free of APEs (hormone disruption and congenital disabilities), base VOCs and colourant VOCs.
The following products and brands are examples of VOC paints and products you may wish to consider:
- AFM Safecoat Zero VOC Paint
- Farrow and Ball
- Green Planet Paint
The right furniture can breathe new life into any home – the right table, couch, or bed will not just complement the aesthetics of the space but will also improve the dynamics of the room. You should also remember that utilising eco-friendly furniture can be key to having a healthy and happy home.
While finding the right furniture is rarely challenging, many manufacturers use toxic chemicals. More often than not, manufacturers integrate harmful plastics into their furniture increasing the chance of you buying a couch that contains synthetic materials that don’t break down in landfills.
If replacing your old furniture isn’t an option, you can always choose to reupholster current furniture with eco-friendly and stain-resistant fabric that doesn’t deteriorate after prolonged use or washing. Try to avoid cheap materials that stretch, stain, and wear out faster. If you’ve got a modest budget and use your sofa regularly, ensuring you enhance your sofa with a fabric stain resistant cover is crucial. Ensure the coating you use has a rub-count of at least 25,000. Remember to test the sofa fabric, gett a feel for how comfortable it is and how absorbent it would be to a coating.
Eco-friendly Caulks and Adhesives
Unbeknown to many first time DIYers, your home improvement project won’t get very far without two of the most reliable materials: adhesives and caulks. Many don’t know or take the time to consider the composition of these materials.
Realistically many adhesive and caulks contain VOCs and toxins, of which will remain in your home forever, or at least until they are removed and replaced.
Here are a few components, found within materials, you should avoid:
- Talc (contains asbestos)
- Biocides (affects respiratory tract)
- Phthalates (hormone disruptors)
- BPA (hormone disruptor)
- Isocyanates (carcinogen)
- Styrene (nervous system and kidney damage)
If you’re looking for safer, more eco-friendly, and zero-VOC realising adhesives and caulks, these are for you:
- AFM 3 in 1 Adhesive
- AFM Caulk
- BioSeal Silicone Sealant Caulk
- DAP All-Purpose Adhesive Sealant
Many decking materials are often treated with toxic substances like arsenic and copper compounds used as insecticides and preservatives in pressure-treated wood. For an eco-friendly decking improvement, try looking for untreated and naturally rot-resistant wood, sustainably preserved or has the Forest Stewardship Council certification.
You should also consider decking made from recycled plastic decking materials made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) or LDPE (low-density polyethylene), reclaimed untreated wood, or aluminium. Contrary to more inexperienced beliefs, recycled plastic makes a great building material. These materials are not only durable and robust materials but also eco-friendly choices.
Being aware of eco-friendly and green building materials can take your home improvement project from a dull, typical home renovation to an environmentally friendly and health benefiting task. With the right materials, you can affordably create a healthier, chemical-free living space that supports yours and your family’s health.