The home as a whole is your face and most truly reflects your awareness of the environment, nature, and health. Today, it may be customary for you to go to the store with a reusable bag and turn your lights off whenever they are not needed. But are you aware of how the materials from which your home is built and finished affect the environment and your health?
In this blog post, we write about interior finishing materials, such as clay plaster, lime plaster, and natural paints. We also outline five crucial reasons why you might prefer natural materials to build and finish your home.
1. You will have better health and well-being
Have you ever wondered why you wake up in the morning with a stuffy nose? Why are you bothered by common respiratory illnesses, or why do you not want to do any chores at home at all?
We spend more than 80% of our time indoors, and most people’s home indoor climate does not mimic nature, so the quality of your room air is directly related to your well-being and health.
By preferring natural construction and finishing materials, you will improve the quality of the indoor climate in your home by leaps and bounds. We will share with you an educational experience from Haagapuisto school:
In Haagapuisto school in Finland, the indoor air microflora was out of balance, causing respiratory illnesses too often among children and teachers. The school had no reason to see the building materials, and a better ventilation system was built as the first solution. Unfortunately, this did not work. It was later discovered that there was strong mold inside the school walls and in the floor under the linoleum. Moisture in the earth came through the floor, and because linoleum is not a breathable material, moisture-induced life-form mold formed in the room and was inhaled by students and teachers. The school decided to make significant repairs. All the old plaster was removed from the walls, and the old floor was removed. A new clay floor was built, and the walls were covered with 3 cm thick clay plaster. This choice gave an excellent result – the air quality in the room improved significantly and, as a result, also the health of teachers and students.
Natural finishing materials help to create an environment as close to nature as possible, which is natural and at the same time healthy.
As far as your health is directly concerned, we do not want to claim that natural interior decoration eliminates all your health concerns. However, we can say that it improves the health of the house and the quality of the indoor climate, which affects your well-being and indirectly your health.
2. Natural interior finishing materials are environmentally friendly
A person with an environmentally conscious mindset monitors the ecological footprint and life map of a material, product, or service when making his or her decisions. How is the material produced, and how does it finally return to nature? Will the material be reused or disposed of in the future? In other words, a product life cycle assessment (LCA) assesses the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle, from raw materials to disposal.
What is the life cycle of natural finishing materials “from the cradle to the grave”?
The raw material for clay plaster is quarried. We can say that the extraction and production of clay have the most negligible environmental impact because the mining does not use much complex technological equipment, and there is no blasting. In addition, clay is a so-called local material – you can find it in large numbers worldwide, which eliminates long transport costs and emissions. The production and processing of clay do not emit or emits minimal CO2, as the final product from the raw material is not energy-intensive, and the process is not long. All UKU clay plasters are produced in South Estonia with solar energy, and the raw materials are excavated, dried, and ground primarily locally. In addition to the above, clay plaster is also reusable and compostable. This means that clay used as a finishing material or in a building structure can be reused. For example, clay plaster at home can be removed from the wall and later plastered again. Another option is that you can freely return the clay plaster to nature.
The environmental friendliness of lime plaster reflects in the fact that lime is CO2-neutral. What does this mean? Lime plaster re-binds all the carbon dioxide released during production (unlike another known binder, cement, which is the source of 8% of global CO2 emissions). In addition, lime is compostable at the end of its service life – that is, it does not leave any harmful waste when decomposed.
There are different natural colors, and the acquisition, processing, transport, and disposal of their raw materials may vary by type of paint. However, they all have certain common denominators that we can point out from an environmental point of view. The raw materials are local, the production is not energy-intensive, and you can return the paint to nature at the end of its useful life.
3. Natural interior finishing materials are durable and meet high standards.
Green thinking is a trend that has led to research, observation, and testing of different alternatives in every field. This is how we started in UKU. We brought together the knowledge of our ancestors and began to put it into practice, adding modern preferences and requirements, and standards. As a result, we have developed such natural finishing materials that are durable, but at the same time very stylish and trendy and, most importantly, healthy for body and mind!
Our product development resources have yielded excellent results – most of our products today have high-quality standards:
Clay plasters – German quality standard / highest strength class (DIN 18947: 2013)
Lime plasters – European standard (EN 998-1)
4. The choice of natural interior finishing materials is wide
Today’s choice of natural interior finishing materials is extensive, enabling both a rustic country style and a very luxurious subtle style. It is possible to create surfaces with a grainy structure as well as very smooth and shiny. Natural interior finishing materials can be installed seamlessly in bathrooms as an alternative to ceramic tile and as a splash-proof finish on the wall between kitchen furniture. There are also endless possibilities in the form of colors, color combinations, and artistic stencils.
5. Building with natural materials is master-friendly
Modern synthetic and artificial building materials are often accompanied by a phenomenon called VOC (volatile organic compound). These are chemical compounds that are often harmful and cause a number of health problems. VOCs are artificial chemical compounds that are added to building materials to improve their properties. For example, many paints contain VOCs to make the paint last longer and be more durable and washable.
Natural building materials do not have these compounds. In UKU, we only produce pure materials that are free of VOCs.
The master-friendliness of natural materials is mainly expressed in three aspects:
- A master who works with natural building materials on a daily basis does not inhale VOC compounds that could adversely affect his health.
- There is no dusty sanding process in interior finishing work to protect yourself from.
- A master who decides to use natural materials in interior finishing does not have to wear protective clothing or put on a protective mask (except for lime work because lime plaster has a corrosive effect).
What’s more, the masters who use natural finishing materials (clay and lime plaster) today claim that the work is pleasant, enjoyable, and has a calming effect. Families who choose to use clay paints can confidently involve their children in the painting process because it is entirely safe, even if a child accidentally puts clay-colored fingers in their mouths.
At UKU, we believe that natural interiors are a modern luxury that anyone can afford. Luxury is like a GMO-free, organic, and lovingly grown apple not sold in large retail chains. Make a conscious and environmentally friendly choice for your family!