Home Repair Topics
Renovating with children in mind
Renovating a room allows you to redesign the space to manage your needs. If you are renovating a child's room, you need to pay special attention to the materials you are using. Children are more sensitive to environmental hazards than adults because children eat more food, breathe more and drink more in proportion to body weight, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Your child explores by crawling and putting objects in the mouth, so when you are renovating your child's room, using non-toxic materials helps lessen exposure risk.
For the floor, avoid carpets and padding with synthetic materials and chemical coatings. Use carpet padding made of untreated camel or goat hair and water-based adhesive or carpet tacks instead of chemical adhesives. Chemical adhesives break down over time and may leech into the carpet. If you go with an area rug, look for an organic cotton and wool fiber rug with vegetable-based dyes. Check the additive information for any rug you are considering and try to find a rug with as few additives as possible. Common rug additives include insect repellent and stain repellent chemicals. The more additives a rug has, the more likely it is your child will be exposed to a toxic chemical.
If you decide to keep existing hardwood flooring, clean and prepare the floor with non-toxic sealants. Look for wood that you can treat with non-toxic water sealers if you have to replace or install a new hardwood floor, but make sure you'll be able to clean the wood easily.
Paints contain different types of chemicals, including biocides and volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde. Choose a natural or latex paint that contains low volatile organic compounds. Because the paint's pigment contributes to the level of volatile organic compounds, check the level of the color you're planning to use. Lighter colors usually have lower levels of these compounds because the colors have less pigmentation.
If you need a crib, consider a crib made entirely of wood. Cribs with plastic parts may emit chemicals that your child is sensitive to. You can treat a wooden crib with natural oil or water-based sealants to preserve and protect the wood without using toxic materials. If you choose natural oil, make sure the oil has low biocide and volatile organic compound levels. While antique cribs may be an appealing choice from a design standpoint, cribs made before 1978 may have lead paint in the coating and are not safe for your child.
Your child's bed is a possible source of toxic chemicals. If you're going to replace your child's bed as part of your remodeling project, research the frame and mattress selection before you buy. Flame-retarding chemicals are commonly used in mattresses and these mattresses may be sold with childrens beds in some cases. Look for mattresses that use a layer of wool as a flame-retardant instead of chemicals. If you're considering a wooden bed frame, you'll need to look for an unfinished frame or a frame with minimal coating.
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