It’s easier to think green about some home improvement projects more than others. When we need to replace our appliances we may dish out some extra money to conserve energy, but with more permanent and labor intensive endeavors, such as a remodel, it’s easy to forget how our materials and building processes are affecting the environment.
When taking on the daunting task of replacing your staircase do your homework and learn about what greener options are out there. You will be surprised to encounter a wide variety of eco-friendly options available. Here are some tips for building a greener staircase:
When building a staircase it is necessary to use strong wood, but don’t shy away from recycled and reclaimed timber. Look for wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, a non-profit which seeks to responsibly maintain the world’s forests and promotes environmental beneficence from the mill to the storeroom shelves. Also, consider using other materials besides wood, especially for rails. Glass and metal are more eco-friendly, they are often cheaper and are very much in vogue if you can incorporate them into your space.
Another green option is salvaging the existing framework of your current stairs and re-treading them yourself. Nustair at nustair.com offers an easy to assemble stair tread overlay kit which might give your stairs that fresh new look without having to start from scratch. Another site selling eco-friendly prefinished stair treads and parts is Stair-treads.com. By using multiple staves and glue in their parts they claim better utilization of lumber, and only use wood from plantation grown trees.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly found in stains, wood sealants and wood finishings. Vapors let off in the drying process are harmful to the environment and large scale spills and improper disposal pose additional risks. An environmentally-safe alternative is to use a natural oil finish. Monocoat offers these finishes in a wide variety of colors and creative effects as well as products for both indoor and outdoor use. The ingredients in these finishes are entirely organic and plant-based, containing no VOCs. Visit their website at www.monocoat.us
With a little bit of time and intention, one can find eco-friendly alternatives to just about any home improvement project. The pay-off is a broader sense of purpose and a greater feeling of satisfaction when the job is done, not to mention a cleaner environment for us all.