Shopping Guide – Flooring, Walls, Paint, Windows

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Before you make ANY choices for a new home build or remodel, consult with the experts on non-toxic home materials at The Green Design Center in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  They are indeed the experts and test ALL recommended materials with a FRAT device, which is accurate to 1 part per billion.  There are many “indoor air quality ‘experts’ out there, but they are not doing the testing that The Green Design Center is doing.

They have an educational arm of their company, called Degree of Green, where you can find

  1. Degree of Green (DOG) Reports on thousands of products
  2. Podcasts where you can learn for free, called Non Toxic Environments
  3. Free DOG report you and each of your family members can take to elucidate your priorities in your project.


Identify Your Priority

What are YOUR priorities?  We’ve heard the term “GREEN”, but do we know what “GREEN” means?   Does it mean —-

  1. Healthy ?
  2. Sustainable/Renewable ?
  3. Green (Recycled Materials) ?

There is an IMPORTANT difference between these…  There are many “GREEN” recycled products out there, but many of them are not HEALTHY, in regards to indoor air quality/chemical off-gassing.

That’s what “Degree of Green” is all about – it rates how GREEN a product is, in TERMS of what is IMPORTANT TO YOU, whether that’s health, renewable materials, or using recycled materials.  Sometimes you will find a product that meets all three definitions of GREEN, but often it doesn’t, or it meets one, and a little bit of another.


Get Real Information – “Zero-VOC” Products are Toxic, 9 times out of 10

We’ve all been led to believe that zero-VOCs mean increased indoor air quality and human health.  But this is FALSE.

The regulations requiring that paint be free of VOCs has nothing to do with human health or toxins, and has everything to do with outdoor air pollution.

Almost all zero VOC paints emit formaldehyde and a list of other chemicals that harm us.   Specifically, zero-VOC paints contain formaldehyde precursors that create formaldehyde during the curing process, as well as ammonia, butyl acetate, and acetone.

The EPA began regulating VOCs in various products in the beginning in the 90s, because of the propensity for them to react with low level nitrogen and UV to create smog (outdoor air pollution).

So, now we have zero VOC products, but although the manufacturers give the illusion that this means the paint ingredients are safe for human occupants, in reality, it just means that the product doesn’t contain chemicals that contribute to OUTDOOR air pollution.


Product Guide

There are new products coming out all the time, and The Green Design Center TESTS them all for toxicity, and identifies the safe products.  Consult with them as this list could become outdated, very quickly.

  • Hardwood
    • By law, all foreign wood entering the United States must be treated with toxic chemicals.  So if you’re installing a hardwood floor, try to find a source of domestic wood, or even sustainably grown wood, like Timber Growers in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
    • people are often not willing to go without toxic finishes.  Bona Kemi finishes, as they are not toxin-free, simply low-VOC.  The AFM Polyureseal BP is the only clear hard floor finish I recommend.  Some penetrating oils are good too, but the clients expectations need to be altered immensely.
  • Earthen Floor  (another article from Mother Earth News)
  • Marmoleum – natural linoleum
  • Cali Hard Vinyl Limestone
  • Geowood



Peruse The Green Design Center website, or call them to obtain help in selecting a safe paint.

  • AFM Products are safe.
  • To prevent mold in basements, crawl spaces, attics, etc, use
  • To prevent mold in wall cavities as the home is being constructed, apply or preferably spray the on on the wall cavity before putting the insulation in Caliwel BNA Industrial AntiMicrobial Coating paint.
  • To prevent mold in rooms like bathrooms, use the Caliwel BNA Industrial AntiMicrobial Coating paint – will prevent mold for at last 5 years.
  • If you have a home where the wood beams or walls have absorbed smoke, use 2 coats of shellac you make at home, followed with AFM transitional primer, followed by regular AFM Safecoat paint.


  • Avoid any material that has biocides, such as anti-microbials or anti-fungals.
  • Avoid paper sheet rock that doesn’t have biocides, as the paper is then a food for mold growth
  • Instead, choose paper-less sheet rock.

There are other material that may also be safe.  Consult with The Green Design Center.



Avoid VINYL windows like the plague.  They off gas toxic chemicals into your indoor air.

Instead, choose aluminum or wood windows.