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April 19, 2014  |  Login
Wall Materials for a Green Home
By Eric Corey Freed
Whether the walls of your home are constructed out of traditional wood framing, or built green out of straw bales, all your walls must be completed with some protective and decorative finish. In this section, I cover the various types of wall finishes available and let you know what to look for when you’re shopping.

Paints and Coatings

Paint poses some potential health concerns because it consists of pigments held together with a binding agent. These binding agents contain VOCs, which are released into the air.

Tip: Nearly all the major paint manufacturers now offer a low-VOC line of paints, but be careful: The term low is hard to define. Check the labels for the exact content of VOCs. Instead of low-VOC, purchase zero-VOC paints from healthy-paint manufacturers such as AFM Safecoat (, Bioshield (, or Auro Paints (

Always wear gloves and a respirator mask while painting, especially if you’re using a paint sprayer. After painting, open the windows and flush the home with fresh air for a few days. If you’re preparing a nursery for a baby on the way, paint the room at least a month before your little bundle arrives. All these measures will lead to a healthier and happier home.

Recycle or donate all your leftover paint. Your local salvage yard or hardware store may take back your remaining gallons. Never dump paint down the drain.

Warning: Originally, the pigments in paint contained high amounts of lead, a toxic and persistent chemical linked to damage to the nervous system of children. The use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978 by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unfortunately, if your home was built before 1950, it may still contain traces of this old paint that, if cracked or flaking, is very harmful to your health and especially the health of your children. Even tiny amounts of lead paint dust can be picked up by small fingers, and then ingested when they put their fingers to their mouth. If you suspect that your home contains lead-based paint, contact a lead abatement specialist right away.

Earthen Plaster

As an alternative to paint, earthen plaster is a beautiful finish for your walls. Made from a pure mix of clay and natural pigments, earthen plaster is also healthy and naturally mold resistant.

The plaster is applied directly onto drywall with a trowel and can be finished smooth or with a heavy texture for a variety of looks. more



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