Products & Certifications

Is Owens Corning’s entry into formaldehyde-free products timely or tardy? How do you know when health concerns about chemicals emitted from interior building and decorating products are valid? How about when the company whose Pink Panther is synonymous with “industry leader in insulation” finally comes out with a formaldehyde-free product – years after it had the capability to do so? Owens Corning Eco Touch™ Fiberglas™ insulation is still pink, but its PureFiber™ binder – made from plant materials – means it is formaldehyde-free. If you haven’t routinely looked for or researched green products that are indoor-air friendly, you might think this is a cutting-edge option with no competition when you see it on the rack at the big-box store.

Demand for traditional bamboo fizzles while strand draws attention It’s official: traditional, vertical- and horizontal-grain bamboo flooring is dated. Despite its popularity five years ago, it appears this fad was destined to fade. Strand bamboo, on the other hand, is here for the long-haul, flooring experts say. “There is almost no interest in traditional bamboo in our store,” says John Hill, ecological coordinator at Interstate Flooring in Portland, OR. “It seems to be, been there, done that. When people are looking at bamboo, they want a more evolved look. Strand, stained and hand-scraped bamboo give them that.” This sentiment is not limited to the west coast, which is always on the cutting edge of green-product style. “Traditional bamboo has become a tired look,” says Joe Byrnes of the Allied Flooring Group in Cincinnati, OH. “Consumers are disenchanted with it. It was oversold, treated sort of like it was the second coming of Christ.”

FSC-certified manufacturing facility does not mean certified flooring or healthy indoor-air quality If DuChateau Floors were the only company offering a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified hardwood floor with an oil finish that emits no chemicals, we would not be living in the United States of America. In the land where competition abounds, customers who want the “greenest” product – one that is best for human health and also benefits the planet -- are a priority for a number of manufacturers. But so are those who do not have the budget for an FSC-certified product with a finish proven to have low-chemical emissions. The end result is a selection of products that range from the “greenest,” to the not so “green,” and it is often up to you to know how to tell the difference.

FSC-Certified Floors:  Add a zero-VOC finish for hardwood flooring that’s better for health, and the planet The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label is arguably the best guarantee that a hardwood floor was sustainably harvested. But that isn’t enough for homeowners who want flooring that does not emit chemicals. Manufacturers of polyurethane and aluminum oxide floor finishes have appeased some of these customers by developing finishes with lower-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content. But a growing number of people want a floor that’s prefinished without potentially harmful chemicals. “There is a demand for really 'green'  finishes that don’t emit chemicals in your home or business,” says Jim Johnson, president of Wanke Cascade – a wholesale flooring distributor headquartered in Portland, Oregon. “That demand will continue to grow as more people learn that flooring prefinished with natural oil is readily available.”

Woodinville, WA, Wine Company Chooses Wicanders Cork Flooring The use of cork at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville, WA, goes far beyond wine bottle stoppers. The company has installed 15,000 square feet of cork flooring made by Wicanders. It was chosen to replace carpeting at the company’s office and production center for reasons that include dust allergy reduction, sound insulation between the first-floor production facility and second-floor offices, and it is a sustainable product that supports the cork industry, says Carrie Wirth, purchasing manager for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. This company makes two of every three bottles of wine sold in Washington state.

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/ Low-VOC, zero-VOC and “non-toxic” don’t mean "safe" Looking for a “non-toxic” paint?  There’s a reason for putting the word in quotes. You will have some work to do before you pick up a brush or roller. Paint manufacturers don’t have to list the ingredients they use on the can. Some chemicals in paint are difficult to eliminate because they are present in earth materials used to make paint. Unless you’re experienced in chemistry, you might not know what to look for on the Manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). And, many toxic irritants don’t have to be listed there anyway. There are multiple standards and differing certifications for what makes paint “safe.” And knowing which chemical to avoid is a task all its own. “For those of us who place indoor-air quality on our list of building objectives, responsibility must begin and end with ourselves,” says Jay Watts, marketing director for AFM Safecoat.

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/ You need a glossary of chemicals, “green” certifications and standards to understand what the manufacturers are talking about So, here it is:

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.  Low- or Zero-VOC on the label can create a false sense of security It’s almost time to paint two more rooms in my house, and I think I will have tested every mainstream “zero-VOC” paint on the market by the time we are done. I know which brand works best for me, but it’s not a mainstream brand and is not carried by a local retailer. Call me impatient, but ordering paint from another state, or for that matter having to drive for more than 10 minutes to get it, doesn’t work when you need to finish in the time allotted. Custom colors, like the terracotta in my kitchen, sometimes need re-tinting after I test them on the wall. And, inevitably, we run short on non-accent neutrals, which also means another run to the paint store. As someone who does not do well around chemical odors, I can say with certainty and watering eyes that there are irritating ingredients in popular paint brands, even though their labels read “zero-VOC.” More importantly is that low- and zero-VOC labels don’t mean what many people think they do.