We recently had a leak in our roof and needed to replace a wall and ceiling section of a bedroom. The process I had to go through to get the supplies for this simple job reminded me that the majority of the products available in hardware and building supply stores don’t yet reflect concerns of indoor air pollution. Careful attention is needed when buying commercial building materials, no matter how small the renovating project.
These are the guidelines I used for choosing the healthiest wall products. I wanted to insure that the renovating didn’t leave residual toxic fumes from pesticides and solvents in the paint and joint compound for weeks and even months.The guidelines were compiled for my book Better Basics for the Home, with the help of experts Carol Venolia (author of Healing Environments), and Mary Oetzel, indoor air consultant.
Interior Wall and Ceiling Finishes
- The Least Toxic Choice/Best Choice for Those Sensitive to Chemicals:
Plaster (if using a low-biocide paint—see below)
Ceramic tile (Portland Thinset and Portland cement grout)
- Acceptable Choice
***Gypsum board or drywall (least toxic joint compound and sealed in with low-biocide paint –see below)
- Solid wood paneling
Natural-fiber fabric wallpaper (least toxic adhesives—see below)
- Cause for Concern
Paper wallpaper (applied without toxic glue)
- Avoid/Generally Most Toxic
Wallpaper (vinyl and other plastics or paper applied with toxic glue). Remove plastic wallpaper, especially if exposed
to heaters, which can cause it to outgas strongly.
*** My choice