Q: Is there a drywall alternative that's safe for our new baby's nursery? We are having a baby this year, and the walls in our future nursery are in poor shape. Can you recommend a drywall alternative that is not just eco-friendly but also low in chemicals?
Asked by Holly
Editor: Here's what our friends at Green Home Guide say.
Having spent my formative years in New England, I have sufficient experience working on older homes with pockmarked walls to confidently field your question. Fortunately, there are many options that are eco-friendly and free of toxic chemicals.
Have the walls patched
The easiest solution is to have the walls patched and skim-coated to conceal the poor condition of the surface. I would recommend a nontoxic patching compound such as Crawford's.
If the walls are simply too damaged to get away with a quick fix, green drywall options are available. Drywall itself is made from an inert mineral and presents no health concerns to you and your family. However, the process of manufacturing drywall is very energy intensive and contributes to as much as one percent of the total energy output of the United States.
Greener options include drywall made from recycled gypsum and synthetic gypsum, both of which meet the same quality standards as conventional gypsum, but with a smaller carbon footprint.
- Synthetic gypsum is made from materials like coal fly-ash—byproducts of manufacturing and energy-generation processes.
- EcoRock is a synthetic-gypsum drywall made from 80 percent recycled materials. EcoRock will be available in 2009, beginning in the western U.S.
- Alternatively, the California Integrated Waste Management Board publishes a directory of recycled-content drywall.