Healthy Housing Insight

Wall and Ceiling Finish Selection

With the many choices of wall and ceiling finishes available, it is important ^ to consider the implications for occupant health and environment of material and finish choices. As well, the long-term upkeep and adapt-1 ability of the building should also be considered. Walls and ceilings (J which are difficult to clean and maintain, and which do not wear well, S translate into an ongoing burden for house occupants. Finishes which cannot be easily changed by painting, wallpapering or paneling may encourage replacement long before their useful service life is over. Some criteria to be considered when selecting wall and ceiling finishes are summarized below.

Appropriate Choices

The use of local materials should be encouraged where possible. These stimulate the local economy and reduce the environmental impacts asso ciated with long-distance transportation.

Synthetic materials made from non-renewable materials, and materials which are not reusable or recyclable should be avoided. These materials eventually end up in landfills as waste.

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Continued from page 227

Select materials based on their durability and ease of maintenance. Experience has shown that finishes such as solid wood paneling and ceramic tile deliver long service. Plaster and drywall are easy to main-ta.n, repair and refinish. Wall paper which is not recyclable should be

Certain interior finishes for walls and ceilings must be attached using adhesives. Others may require special coating-type finishes. Check that these adhesives and coatings are non-toxic, and that they do not continue to off-gas for long periods of time. Fumes and vapours from such materials are known to cause discomfort, and in some cases, health

There is no ideal interior finish for walls and ceilings; however, there is strong evidence of inappropriate finishes accumulating in landfill sites across the country. It should be recognized that the interior skin of the house will be exposed to wear and tear, require cleaning, and even renewal from time to time. This process should not strain the environment or the occupants, rather, it should be a natural extension of a healthy house.

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