Who doesn’t love to remodel a room or even a whole house? A fresh coat of paint, new kitchen cabinets, replacing carpet, or new furniture are all part of the redecorating excitement. When you’ve completed the remodel, you can’t get enough of your new space.
But did you know that your remodeling choices can have an impact on your health?
It’s true. Your choice of paint, flooring, furniture, and bedding matters to your health.
You think being green and healthy during a remodel is difficult. But, it’s really not if you have the right information. Non-toxic home remodeling is possible.
Learn eight healthy remodeling secrets that everyone should know.
1. Choose VOC-Absorbing Drywall
When you remodel, chances are the materials you’re using release VOCs like formaldehyde and benzene. This off-gassing creates unhealthy indoor air.
What type of materials and items release these harmful VOCs?
Plywood, particle board, fabric, carpet, mattresses, paint, solvents, lacquers, upholstered furniture, foam insulation, adhesives
It’s a long list. Just imagine a new master bedroom or family room and think about the volume of VOCs from paint, carpet, particle board furniture, plywood sub-flooring, adhesives, and insulation. Wood alone releases significant amounts of formaldehyde. Industry estimates show that 85% of wood materials have adhesives containing formaldehyde.
Now imagine that you can remove those VOCs by installing VOC-absorbing drywall.
Sounds like a good solution, right?
Here’s how it works. The drywall absorbs VOCs for 75 years even when finished and painted with most paints up to 25 coats. It captures VOCs, converts them into inert compounds and safely stores the inert material within the board. It also provides enhanced moisture and mold resistance.
You might be skeptical, but there’s proof. Greenguard Indoor Air Quality and UL Environment have certified the AirRenew product. Both are worthwhile certifications. For more information go to www.airrenew.com.
2. Pick Your Vinyl Flooring Carefully or Opt for Safer Alternatives
A recent study by Healthy Stuff, highlighted issues with vinyl flooring and the release of phthalates. Human and animal studies have linked phthalates to serious health issues.
If you choose vinyl flooring, pick your brand carefully. Choosing Armstrong or Designer’s Image flooring is a good choice because the study results revealed no phthalates with these brands. Check out the report for more details.
What are better alternatives?
You might want to consider non-vinyl flooring alternatives. Look into bio-based linoleum, natural rubber or ceramic tile. These are healthier alternatives.
3. Opt for All Natural/Organic Mattresses
Due to strict fire safety standards, conventional mattress makers use large quantities of flame retardants to meet safety regulations. While it is generally accepted that these fire-retardant chemicals are toxic at a certain level, the debate continues to wage about safe levels.
Prefer to skip the debate? Then, choose an all-natural mattress.
All natural/organic mattresses use naturally flame retardant wool coverings and not chemical flame retardants to comply with safety regulations. So when you opt for an all natural mattress, you don’t have to worry about inhaling or absorbing harmful chemicals.
To learn more, read 10 Reasons to Buy an All Natural/Organic Mattress.
What else do you need to know about mattress shopping? When shopping for an all natural mattress, look for 100% all natural latex. Why? Because man-made latex can release harmful chemicals.
Watch out for some misleading ads. Some mattress manufacturers advertise all natural latex, but what they’re really selling is a blend of natural and man-made. The key is to look for 100% all natural latex.
Not ready to ditch your current conventional mattress? You can opt for an All Natural/Organic Mattress topper. It’s a great way to put some distance between you and your conventional mattress. Plus, it’s a great way to improve the comfort of your current mattress.
4. Install a Second Sink or Faucet with Under Counter Water Filtration System
If you’re remodeling your kitchen, now is the perfect time to add a water filtration system. Consider adding a second sink with purified water to avoid a queue at your main sink. You’ll love the convenience.
If a second sink isn’t an option, then add a second faucet to your sink with purified water.
Are you still drinking unfiltered tap water?
Consider reading The Complete Beginner's Guide to Water Filtration which explains why it's important to filter your water. It may just change your mind.
Not sure which water filtration system is the best? Check out the three highest rated, certified water filter systems.
5. Use Zero VOC Paints and Stains
Here is a few facts you need to know about paint.
– Low VOC paints actually have a lot of VOCs, so don’t buy low VOC paints.
– Zero VOC paints only have 5 grams/liter or less of VOCs, but these paints may include other chemicals that simply aren’t good for you.
Look for Zero VOC and the Green Seal 11 -2008 certification.
– It’s not just about the odor.
Paint releases VOCs long after the paint is dry and you can no longer smell the odor. So, buying zero VOC paints is a healthy choice.
Finding paint without carcinogens, reproductive toxins or ozone depleting compounds was a chore. It’s easier now. Benjamin Moore Natura™ and Aura™ interior latex paints are good choices because the paints are Zero VOC as well as Green Seal certified. And, they are readily available.
Get information on other safe paint brands. And, remember to choose zero VOC primer.
6. Install Shower Filters
A bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to install a shower filter. Because the filter adds an inch or two to your shower drop, adding the filters while remodeling ensures your shower head is the right height.
Why use shower filters at all?
Shower filters remove chlorine and chloramine used to disinfect your water as well as other harmful contaminants. When water is heated and sprayed, it creates droplets that you can inhale. Some suggest that inhaling these chemicals is worse than actually drinking them. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea to filter out these water contaminants for a safer shower.
Want to know the highest rated and certified shower filters? Check out these highly rated shower filters.
7. Look for Wood Laminate Flooring That Meets Safety Standards
When buying wood laminate flooring, get the safest flooring by following the EPA recommendations. Buy products that are labeled or stamped in compliance with:
- California Air Resources Board Air Toxics Control Measure (CARB ATCM)
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
- Particleboard should conform to A208.1-2009 or CARB ATCM
- MDF should conform to A208.2-2009 or CARB ATCM
- Hardwood Plywood should conform to ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2009 or CARB ATCM
If your wood laminate flooring meets these standards, you can feel confident that it will not release unhealthy amounts of formaldehyde.
Better yet, opt for solid wood flooring instead of laminate.
8. Shop for Solid Wood, Latex & Organic Upholstered Furniture
Here’s the last secret. It’s the one you’re probably going to be the most excited about when you see the options for the safest furniture.
But first, the details on why you should care.
Most upholstered furniture has two issues you’re trying to avoid – chemical flame retardants and formaldehyde. To buy the best upholstered furniture, you’ll need to understand all three components – the frame, cushions, and fabrics.
Frame – opt for solid wood:
A lot of lower cost furniture is made with plywood, particle board or MDF. These engineered wood products are manufactured using adhesives that release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a substance you’d rather not have in your home.
Instead of engineered wood products, look for a frame made from solid hardwood like ash, maple, poplar or oak. Pine is a softer wood and is less desirable. Investing in a solid wood frame means your furniture will last, and it’s healthier without the formaldehyde.
Cushions – choose 100% natural latex:
Most cushions are made with polyurethane or soy foam. Some manufacturers claim that soy foam is safer and “greener” than polyurethane. Don’t be misled. The soy component comprises less than 20% while the remaining 80% is a petroleum-based product often called “solid gasoline”. Hence, the need for chemical flame retardants.
The safest and longest lasting cushions are made from latex. It’s a good idea to opt for 100% natural latex and not synthetic latex.
Natural latex is mold, mildew, and dust-mite resistant and is not highly flammable. Since it is naturally flame retardant, it does not need chemical flame retardants to meet safety regulations. Other good news, the 100% natural latex cushions do not off-gas.
To sum up, opt for 100% natural latex to avoid chemical flame retardants and nasty cushion off-gassing.
Fabric – choose organic fabric and avoid synthetics
Choose an organic fabric made from natural fibers like hemp, linen or cotton duck for casual sofas and chairs and wool or silk for fancy pieces. Generally, a tighter weave leads to a more dense fabric which means greater durability.
Try to avoid synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic as well as stain resistant finishes. While stain resistance seems like a good thing, the finishes contain dangerous and harmful chemicals. And since polyester and acrylic fabrics are flammable, they are coated with chemical flame retardants you’re trying to avoid.
Now you know eight ways to pull off healthy remodeling. And, you realize it’s not as tough as you thought. All it takes is a bit of information.
With these tips, your next remodel will be extraordinary. You’ll be able to enjoy your remodeling genius without unhealthy consequences.
How many of these healthy remodeling secrets did you know?
Almost none? A few?
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