Popular in Eco-Friendly Homes

Earth-Friendly Building Materials

You don't have to strain your budget to choose a healthy home. These days, it's easy being green. Here's what's new in environmentally friendly products and materials for the home.

X

    Everything in this slideshow

    • Recycled Products

      Whenever possible, use recycled materials. Look for rubber and polymer roofing that imitates slate to reduce weight and maintenance. For countertops, backsplashes, shower surrounds, walls, and floors consider materials that blend a percentage of recycled glass with concrete. Choose carpets made from 100 percent recycled content.

    • Lumber Choices

      Avoid products produced from old-growth timber or endangered tropical hardwoods. Seek out materials from certified and managed forests, recycled or reclaimed wood (salvaged from riverbeds or old buildings), or composites such as formaldehyde-free MDF (medium-density fiberboard) for doors and cabinets.

    • Natural Choices

      Many building materials have natural alternatives. Select cellulose insulation, which is made out of plant fiber, instead of fiberglass. Choose Homasote, a recycled newspaper product, as a substitute for drywall in some places. Use linoleum for the kitchen floor rather than vinyl. Real linoleum is made from biodegradable linseed oil, pine rosins, and wood flour on a jute backing. In other rooms, choose wood floors or carpet made of wool and sisal, a natural grasslike fiber.

    • Use Insulated Panels

      Structural Insulated Panels (www.sips.org) are gaining acceptance for use in walls, floors, and roofs. Panels sandwich a rigid foam core between OSB, oriented strand board. OSB mixes wood strands made from fast-growing trees with wax and a binder to form mats. These mats are layered across each other for strength, then heat-pressed into panels. The makers say the panels save time and energy over stick-built construction.

    • Window Tips

      High-performance windows, especially with low-emissivity, or low-E, glazings, are among the best-known ways to save energy for heating and cooling.

    • Water Savers

      Use water-saving appliances throughout the house, such as Energy Star-rated dishwashers and front-loading washing machines. In the bathroom, new toilets are mandated to use 1.6 or less gallons of water per flush.

    • Tankless Water Heaters

      These compact, on-demand units attach to your plumbing system and heat water as it runs through a heat exchanger. You only pay to heat water when you need it.

    • Green Certified

      Prevent environmentally triggered illness and allergies by using Greenguard certified low-emitting interior products and materials. The Greenguard Environmental Institute performs quarterly air-quality performance tests on these items to ensure building materials aren't emitting fumes or trapping air, which creates mold.

      www.greenguard.org

    • Low- or No-VOC Products

      Air-polluting volatile organic compounds, VOCs, include toxic solvents and formaldehyde. Some new fiberglass insulation is VOC-free; other lung-friendly insulation includes recycled cotton batts, containing cloth trimmings usually scrapped, and soy-based sprayed-in foam.

    • 10 of 12

      Odorless Paint

      Many paint companies now feature lines of low- or no-VOCs. These paints have virtually no odor during application and drying. Pick water-based paints when available. They have less odor and require less cleanup than oil-base paints.

    • 11 of 12

      Outdoor Materials

      Outdoor materials have also gone green. One eco-friendly decking option is treated lumber. Arsenic was banned for use in treated lumber and has been replaced by less toxic preservatives. The other green choice is composite decking (shown here), which is made from ground wood fibers and resin. It won't rot and may not need to be finished.

    • 12 of 12
      Next Slideshow Eco-Friendly Makeover for a Living Room

      Eco-Friendly Makeover for a Living Room

      A down-to-earth young family set a lofty goal: remodel and decorate their living room in the most eco-friendly way possible, without giving up comfort or blowing the budget.
      Begin Slideshow »

      Related

    close
    close
    close
    close
    close

    Loading... Please wait...

    I Did It!
    Share on Facebook
    Uh oh! Please pick a jpg at least 600x600px. Done close
    Choose Cancel close
    Share on Facebook
    Uh oh! Your photo failed to upload. Please try again or visit your profile.
    Done Cancel close
    No one has shared their photo yet.
    close

    Add My Photo close