Blog

Greater Cincinnati’s Annual Home & Garden show proves “green” products are here to stay, but knowledge of trends and environmental attributes is still playing catch up There was a time not too long ago when we had to search to find “green” products and companies at the annual Greater Cincinnati Home & Garden Show. But these days, you have to search hard to find exhibiting companies that don't have some claim to being “green.” Even when I was sure I had found one on opening day, I was wrong. There is nothing, I was sure, of environmental note about the slot machines on display by Gambler's Oasis. But then I learned that this business buys machines that are about to be discarded, refurbishes them, and sells them for use in home game rooms.

Natural Interiors® Designers' Forum spotlights new look for old furniture from Sterling Interiors By now, everyone has seen artwork and other creations made from trash, or worn out objects that were about to become trash. But when was the last time you saw one and seriously considered it useful? Can’t remember? Then it’s time to take a closer look at a growing interior design trend called “upcycling.” It’s not quite the same thing as “restoring,” or “refinishing” as upcycling usually gives a worn out piece of furniture a different look than it had before, along with a whole new, useful life. While this helps the planet by reducing waste, concern for the planet is not the top force driving demand for upcycled products.

Studies that show what “fringe,” green proponents warned of all along are an overdue validation of the environmental products industry I distinctly remember a small group of co-workers who voiced concerns that the windows did not open while everyone else was extolling the beauty of the newly constructed newsroom we worked in, complete with new cubicles, new computers, carpeting, paint, ceiling tiles and everything else that makes up a building’s interior. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) had not been created yet. Employees who raised questions about indoor-air quality were “strange,” possibly unbalanced.  You could have heard a pin drop when one of them asked what I now know was a very natural question: “Does the ventilation system bring fresh air into our work area?” Natural or not, the managers responded as though the question bordered on insubordination. Accordingly, it would have been beyond insane had the employee suggested that toxins in the indoor air be scientifically measured or a control group of employees be selected to have blood tests to determine what chemicals they were being exposed to.

A style for every room As Designer Candace Olson shows us in this video, today's cork floors don't look like bulletin boards. Rather, the looks range from that of hardwood planks to mosiac tiles. And cork is suitable in almost any room environment.

Requirements for damp basements might challenge use of all natural, chemical free carpet pads Q. I want to put carpet that has low chemical emissions in my basement. I also had planned on using a natural fiber carpet pad. I have not ever had water leak into the basement, but there is some moisture, due simply to the fact that it is a room below ground level. Do natural fiber carpet pads hold up to moisture and would it be better to use a sheet of plastic as a vapor barrier under the carpet pad? A. Installing carpet in the basement you describe requires a moisture- and mildew-resistant carpet pad, which will be glued in some spots to the basement’s cement floor. Putting a vapor barrier under the carpet pad would allow the pad to move and bunch up in spots under your carpet, which is not desirable. If the basement does not leak, my usual recommendation would be a ½-inch rebond or rubber pad that is water-resistant and treated with an antimicrobial agent to prevent mold and mildew. If you were looking to install laminate or any hard surface floating floor, a vapor barrier would be needed.

Competition in strand bamboo means quality products and competitive pricing from many manufacturers Not long ago, we would have told you that there were just a few reliable brands and several hard-and-fast rules to follow when choosing a strand bamboo floor. But as sales of strand, stained and hand-scraped styles have soared and now dominate in the bamboo flooring category, it’s difficult for any manufacturer to claim leadership.  A number of companies now supply strand products that in some markets have become more visible than those introduced about a decade ago by industry pioneers.

Yellow cast on new linoleum is no cause for alarm Q. I wanted to install Marmoleum Click flooring in my daughter’s room because it is supposed to be very good for healthy indoor air quality, and my daughter has allergies. But when the installer from the flooring company started taking the flooring out of the boxes, the color did not look like what we chose. Instead, it looked like the material had yellowed, like something does when it gets old. The installer said this was normal and that it would go away. But with the price of this product already being higher than many other options, I did not want to take the chance. I sent the flooring back and cancelled the job. I really wanted this floor. Is it possible that I just got a batch that was defective? A. The problem you are describing is not a defect. It is called “ambering,” which is a yellowish cast that appears on Marmoleum – and the competing brands of linoleum. As the installer said, it is normal. It goes away entirely after the flooring comes out of the box and is exposed to light for a few days.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was accurate as of the date it was published, and was signed off on by all of the manufacturer sources quoted. That said, manufacturers frequently change their formulations and ingredients, so this article, given its age, becomes background. DO NOT rely on this article for purchasing these manufacturers’ current products. The questions are relatively simple, but if you would like help in getting guaranteed answers about certifications on a current product, sign up at: https://www.naturalinteriors.com/consumer-subscription/ “Green” certifications that test chemical emissions don’t require compliance until long after the paint is dry GREENGUARD®, Green Seal and SCS Indoor Advantage Gold. They’re all top third-party certifications designed to help us choose paint that will not make the air in our homes dangerous to breathe. But while these labels mean chemical emissions have been measured -- or in the case of Green Seal dangerous ingredients have been prohibited -- none of them tells us what we are breathing at the time the paint is being applied. And certifications that test chemical emissions don’t require compliance with safety limits until 14 days after the paint is dry. “When it comes to verifying sustainable claims, it may be wiser to start by being a ‘doubting Thomas’ instead of a ‘gullible Pollyanna’ …,” says Michael Mauch, AIA, LEED AP and principal of RWA Architects in Cincinnati, OH. “Third-party verification is supposed to work like Politifact -- an organization to sort out the truth. But third-party verification is not a perfect system. In theory, it works, but in reality, there are many influences that can sway the outcome.”