Today, affordable, environmentally-friendly building materials are readily available. These products are not only good for the environment, but they can also be good for your health and for your home. For example, many conventional building materials contain toxic materials that can cause headaches or even lung damage. However, using eco-friendly materials can improve your indoor environment by eliminating the problem of off-gassing.
Wood from buildings that have been torn down has a variety of uses, from framing to flooring. However, be sure to inspect each piece before you buy it for signs of rot and insects. Reclaimed barn wood is very popular for its character. It’s been used for cabinets, flooring, and siding along with many decorative uses.
Metal is strong, durable, and does not off-gas toxic chemicals. Recycled aluminum and steel can be used to frame a building or as metal roofing. If you are building a new home, consider using recycled steel framing rather than wood.
If your home needs new roofing, metal roof replacements are a great choice. While metal roofing is often more expensive than asphalt shingles, it is much more durable and will last much longer. Not only can you use recycled metal to roof your home, but that metal can also be recycled again when it finally is replaced.
This woody, perennial grass can grow up to 3 feet in 24 hours, making it the ultimate renewable building material. Once it’s harvested, it doesn’t need to be replanted because it will sprout right back from the roots. In Asia, bamboo has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Today, bamboo is used as eco-friendly flooring, wall coverings, and cabinets. Outdoors, bamboo can be used to create a natural pergola.
Like bamboo, cork is a natural, renewable material that has been used for centuries. Because it is simply the outer bark of a tree when it is stripped off, the rest of the tree continues to grow without issue. In fact, the tree will regenerate the bark, and it can be harvested every decade or so. Cork can be used to insulate walls and as soft, yet durable flooring. Cork flooring is a great choice in a child’s playroom, and cork wall tiles also absorb noise. It does not rot or absorb water, and it’s naturally more fire-resistant than other woods. Over time, cork can become brittle and begin to flake, but as long as it’s properly maintained, it can last decades.
When properly cast and cured, concrete can last for centuries when used for floors and walls. For improved insulation, the concrete can be cast with internal air pockets or cast around sheets of foam. Concrete will not off-gas and is environmentally friendly. It can even be recycled and reused in the future, if necessary.
By thinking outside the box, you can easily create a home that is both environmentally friendly and creates a healthy environment for you and your family. Keep these building materials in mind, and look for more ways to make your home more environmentally friendly.