Green your home by following those green interior design tips and advice from our sustainability expert.
Choosing a sustainable building system and natural, reclaimed or recycled materials is really only half the story when it comes to creating a home that’s energy efficient and economical to run. It’s important to match the green credentials of a building’s fabric on the inside too. You can do that by taking a complementary approach to kitting out some of your interiors.
Here’s part two in the series of elements to consider when you come to redecorate your new home.
Our Sustainability Director at Charlie Laing Project Management looks at the structure of walls and paint and wallpaper options.
Walling materials such as cob, straw and masonry with lime mortar, as well as lime and clay plasters, are breathable. This means they are naturally hygroscopic – they have the ability to absorb vapour and release it later on, thus preventing damp.
Structure – avoid plastering or finishing natural walls with non-breathable products. Such surfaces must not be covered with a waterproof seal – instead, materials should be vapour permeable. The same applies to insulation – SIG (www.sigss.co.uk) offers several suitable products. Ensure too, that any cold water pipes that pass through natural walls or wooden structures are adequately insulated to prevent condensation forming.
Paint – You may be aware that some modern paints, boards, carpets and other interior products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These binders or solvents can give off toxic or carcinogenic gases that affect the wellbeing of a building’s inhabitants. Many manufacturers now offer paints with a low VOC content of up to 200 grams per litre. However, most green specification guides permit only up to 50 grams per litre – and of course zero VOC is even better. The latter are worthwhile in sleeping or low-ventilation areas, especially nurseries. Do be aware that some ‘eco’ paints use latex (natural rubber) as a binder, to which some people have allergies.
‘Natural’ paints are generally categorised as those made primarily from plants or mineral, rather than chemicals. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re VOC-free, but many people are happier with natural plant VOCs than chemical versions. Water-based paints have improved markedly in recent years, and are available in most colour and hue variations. For historic buildings, milk protein-based paints are often favoured because of their soft, chalky finish.
Wallpaper – many conventional papers are made of vinyl, which means they will trap moisture and can cause mould growth. They may also contain unhealthy PVC or PVD.
However, a vast range of designer wallpapers is now available for the eco conscious buyer. These are made of natural and permeable materials, such as coir, sisal, jute, bamboo, silk, wood pulp, paper and linen, which will allow your home to breathe.
Next week we will look into…. kitchens! In the meantime, you might want to read the first part of this series where we talk about floors. And if you have any questions or need an advice, feel free to call us on 01923 896550.