Guide to Sustainable Home Renovations: Best Sustainable Materials to Use for Home

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Your choice of materials will make a big difference to the success of your home renovations. The look might inform your decisions about a given product or its cost, weight and ease of installation.

One factor that’s becoming increasingly important to many homeowners is the environmental impact. But which materials are more eco-friendly, and why does it matter?

Why use sustainable materials when renovating?

Construction can greatly affect your environmental impact over a given year. This goes especially if you’re buying large quantities of timber, steel, or cement.

Sustainable materials – those which can be consumed indefinitely without harming the natural world – don’t always represent a compromise. Certain timbers, for example, can look and perform excellently, making them a beautiful and environmentally sound choice.

Choosing to renovate sustainably is an excellent ethical choice to make in the best efforts to reduce the environmental impact, with one study showing that 88% of surveyed UK residents have renovated in the past year. This shows that choosing sustainable materials for these projects can significantly benefit the environment. Similarly, many of these homes are older and less efficient, so these renovations using sustainable materials are also working to increase the efficiency of older-built houses.

When done correctly, using sustainable materials in your home renovation can be more cost-effective than using unsustainable materials. For example, using recycled woods and widely available resources such as cork and bamboo can come much cheaper than scarce and unsustainable materials like mahogany and teak. Renovation projects can be very costly, with a full-scale renovation of a 3-bed home averaging at £76,900 to £138,800, so choosing to opt for the use of sustainable materials within your project could help you to bring the cost down while reducing the negative impact on the environment.

Treated Timber

Treated timber is excellent, especially for outdoor use. It has been submersed in protective treatment chemicals, which help it stand up to rot and insects and last a very long time. Surface-treated timber is often treated after its installation. In contrast, pressure-treated timber, which sees chemicals forced deep into the wood in a particular pressure vessel, is treated before it’s cut.

Woods to avoid

Unfortunately, many timbers commonly used in the home are not sustainable. This is typical because the trees used to create it take years to grow, and thus the practice of farming the timber can only continue with the overall supply diminishing. Hardwoods like mahogany, along with teak, ebony and wenge, fall into this category. These should be used sparingly in specialist applications like musical instruments.

If you want to be sure of sustainable timber, the best bet is to look for the FSC logo.

Natural stone

Plenty of natural stone materials exist, but some are greener than others. Using stone is not sustainable since the material itself cannot be replaced. Getting them out of the ground and turned into a finished product can be very energy-intensive. So, while the supply of marble in the ground might not be about to run out, we can’t extract it without inflicting avoidable harm on the natural world.

Sustainable metals

Some metals are sustainable, while others are not. For example, steel needs to be smelted at temperatures that can only be reached by burning coal. However, it is recyclable and widely recycled, which gives it a green advantage over the alternatives. If you intend to use metal in your project, ensure it’s recycled.

Eco Materials

Some materials are not only sustainable but considered highly environmental due to how they are sourced, their availability and how they can be fully recycled. One example is cork, which can be used throughout the home for many different applications such as flooring and underlays, insulation, and even decoration and design features. Cork is a natural material that is fully recyclable and compostable, making it an ideal environmentally friendly material for use in your home.

Bamboo is another widely available and environmentally friendly material that can have a variety of uses in the home. Bamboo is a fast-growing, evergreen plant that is widely considered a sustainable crop. You can use bamboo in many ways around your home, such as installing woven bamboo flooring, dealing with hot and cold temperatures very well and being incredibly long-lasting if appropriately maintained. Bamboo can be an alternative to many wooden features in your home, such as cabinet doors, worktops, and even furniture.

Ref: 3420.30035

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