Posted February 13, 2015 by Gabriel Posternak

A Quick Guide to Green Materials For Your Home Improvement

Remodeling and improving your home isn’t an easy feat. Being such an important endeavor, there’s nothing but hard decisions to be made around every corner. Styles, use of space, colors, materials: a home improvement is a big deal. Fortunately, there are certain decisions that are easier, mainly because of the benefits of one particular option when compared to the others. That can be said about green materials for remodeling your house.

Going green when remodeling isn’t just about using an eco-friendly alternative – it’s also about energy efficiency, environmental quality and cost-effectiveness. That’s because green materials for home improvement have evolved during recent years to the point that they are now viable elements for the whole construction industry. That’s why you should also consider using these materials for your remodeling needs. Here’s a list of sustainable materials you can use and the benefits you’ll get from them.

Building blocks

You have to start somewhere and that somewhere is with your building blocks, the basic material for any remodeling. There are several options you have to contemplate, paying attention to your local climate and your aesthetic needs. First of all, you have concrete, which will let you create thermal mass in a passive solar designed home. What does that mean? That your home will be warm in winter and cool in summer without additional regulation.

Rammed earth is another interesting option, which isn’t to be confused with mud bricks. Rammed earth is a mixture of clay, gravel, sand and cement that’s compacted into walls that combine a high durability and a great water resistance. Additionally, it’s a pretty cheap material and a very clean construction material.

Finally, if you want to go fully green, you can’t overlook options like aluminum cans and plastic bottles to use as bricks in non-structural walls. This is a great way to recycle harmful materials into something durable and cost-effective. Besides, you’ll get a strong matrix that’s fairly easy to build!

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Green flooring

You’ll have to think hard about your floors, since they’ll have to be as durable as you can get while also looking elegant. Fortunately, there are several green alternatives. Bamboo flooring, for instance, is an amazing material. It’s as durable as maple and walnut, has a warm organic look and is completely renewable, since bamboo grows really fast and can be replace with ease.

Marmoleum is another good option, especially if you’re thinking in traditional linoleum. This material is made from linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone, has a great durability and comes in a variety of colors. Best of all: it doesn’t use plastic for its production, making it a very eco-friendly alternative.

Both options mentioned above are good for using in any room but perhaps you want something different in some areas (like your living room). That’s where rugs and carpeting come in. Wool rugs and carpets are more durable than its synthetic alternatives and doesn’t have the offgassing of dangerous chemicals.

Green kitchen remodeling

The kitchen is arguably the most important space in your house. That’s why you might feel tempted to improve it once in a while. Fortunately, you can also rely on green materials for the task. Of course, you’ll also have to go for durable materials here, especially when talking about countertops and cabinets.

For instance, recycled glass can make an amazing countertop, made of up to 85% of glass which would end up in the landfill. Besides, it’s colorful, durable and provides a nice look to the whole space. Granite is also a good option, although not as good as recycled glass. That’s because it has to be hauled from overseas quarries, which increases the carbon footprint of the material.

A very modern and green option is given by materials like PaperStone, Richlite, and EcoTop. These companies have created a hard material comprised of layers of paper saturated with resin and fused with heat and pressure. This is perfect to recycle paper while the resin used for these materials don’t off-gas harmful chemicals.

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Bathroom remodeling

The other key space in your home is the bathroom. There are many things to take into account here. For instance, there are vanities and cabinets which are commonly produced from particleboard – a material that contains formaldehyde. You can go with harvested woods, bamboos, wheat straws or sunflower plants bound with resins that are free from harmful chemicals.

You can use the same materials for countertops as mentioned above. Additionally, you can also use recycled glass or porcelain tiles for the walls. This will give your bathroom an extra sparkle and an elegant finish.

Finally, you can also caulk your bathroom with greener alternatives. This is especially important if your bathroom doesn’t have enough ventilation. Ask your contractor for the safest options against the toxic substances in conventional caulking.

Green patio remodeling

Another space in your home that can actually go green (and it’s usually overlooked) is your garden or patio. Many people believe that such open spaces don’t have too much room for improvement when talking about environmental concerns. Well, guess what? They’re wrong. There are various materials you can use throughout your garden.

Porous pavement is great for making paths in your garden. Since that material absorbs stormwater, it’s great to replenish ground water supplies that moderate the heat island effect. Besides, you can also use chipped wood for the same purpose and with an incredibly natural result.

More things to consider

There are other things to think about when remodeling your home the green way. Appliances are one of them, since selecting the proper ones could significantly cut your energy bills. A great way to choose them is by picking the ones that are among the highest-rated in the Energy Star guide. Use that when buying refrigerators, air conditioning and heating.

Additionally, always go with LED light bulbs instead of the incandescent ones, since their energy efficiency is higher – a benefit you can reap without sacrificing your house lighting sleekness. Finally, you should also pay attention to low-flow showerheads, a dishwasher and water miser toilets that will surely impact the amount of water you use every month.

A home improvement project can be really exciting when you think about it as a challenge and an opportunity to change for better. There’s a lot you can do for the environment when remodeling your house – you just have to pay attention to each detail and pick the options that serve your greener purpose the most.

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