How-To Healthy Homes
transparent transparent



Trans 1) Sick Home Syndrome Trans
2) Construction Techniques
3) Finishing Materials
4) Household Hazards

Finishing Materials

For the most part, builders, contractors, carpenters aren’t usually approached with the idea of building a healthier home. Only a handful of homeowners have made it a considerable priority because the consumer demand just hasn’t developed on a large scale, yet.

central vacuumHowever, sensitive people with allergies or respiratory conditions often request certain finishing materials. Most paint manufacturers have taken the initiative to produce safer materials.

Organizations, such as the American Lung Association, have developed programs and guidelines for building healthier homes. Ultimately, however, the decision to build with safer materials lies with the homeowner and the builder.


Clean your house while it’s under construction often. Debris and dust can easily settle into cracks and ductwork. It’s a good idea to cover forced air registers when working in rooms and vacuum out all the ducts before you start finishing.



Choosing which types of finishing materials, like carpet and paint, can really make an impact on the level of potential contaminates in the home.



degassing carpetSome carpets emit high (VOC) levels. Wood, ceramic and vinyl flooring are now frequently recommended over carpets. The non-fiber floorings have little or no VOC outgassing, clean up easily and don’t trap dust particles like carpet.

Nylon and natural fiber carpet like wool and cotton outgas less. Before bringing carpet into the house, unroll it completely and let it air out a few days before bringing it in the house.


Paint & Paper

Some brands of paint may outgas harmful VOCs. Latex is generally less noxious than oil-based or lacquered types.

Some heavy weave wallpapers may outgas. These styles of wallpaper may have formaldehyde in the glue backing that may be released into the air over time.


Cabinets & Cupboards

new kitchen counterIn the past, formaldehyde outgassing from porous, interior grade pressed wood cabinets, countertops and paneling was a problem. And here's how that is being solved:

  • Now, safer, denser, "exterior grade" pressed wood is widely used.
  • Pressed wood that is laminated on both sides effectively seals in any gases.
  • A safe, solid wood countertop product called Corian is also widely used.
  • Granite is also a safe material, but costly.

Furniture that is built with fasteners, instead of glue, has less chance of outgassing.

After installing new finishing materials, ventilate the house. The biggest threats to indoor air quality are VOCs. Anything with the “new smell” is probably emitting harmful fumes. Open windows when possible to let any outgassing fumes dissipate.

Find out what your specific choices are regarding healthier building materials and methods. Ask questions and compare products.

Read the provided material data sheets on products or request them from retailers/manufacturers. This sheet lists all the ingredients put into the product and should tell if the product contains any materials thought to be harmful.

Previous Next