03 January, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Walls

The catalogs, sales brochures, and paint chip samples have begun to arrive in the mail, and although I know it will be months and months down the road yet, I'm already thinking of paint for the walls. Or rather, plaster.

I had previously used Behr's Venetian Plaster, picked up at Home Depot for $30 a can, for our condo, choosing colors that may either help or hurt us when it comes time to sell the place: red for one bedroom, blue for another, terracotta for the master bedroom, and Absinthe-green for the master bath.

Venetian plaster is ridiculously easy to apply, and the results are pretty impressive. All you really need is a steel trowel and a few hours of your time. Ted and I liked the effect so much, that we considered doing it again for our unit in the Box House.

However, lately I've been reading up a lot on so-called green building techniques. A lot of paint and building materials--everything from glue to varnish--continue to emit harmful chemicals for extended periods of time. There have been several studies linking the offgassing of these chemicals with asthma, and since my mother and I both suffer from it to varying degrees, we're now considering using more environmentally friendly products.

There are two companies whose products I'm considering: Bioshield Healthy Living Paints and American Clay. The overall effect of these plasters and plaster paints reminds me of hostels and hotels I've stayed in while traveling overseas where, in some cases, the plastered walls have endured for generations.

Image from American Clay web site.

Each company uses Earth-friendly or less-harmful ingredients in their products: clay, chalk, marble, cellulose, alcohol ester, sand, organic soap, casein milk solids, asbestos-free talcum, salt, etc. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? The only downside is that the products are shipped in a powdered state--you need to mix 'em up with water before applying. Still, if they're better for the Earth and might have an impact on our health, I'm all for it.

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