Ask Andy 
Q & A with veteran building material dealer/distributor 
Andy Pace of The Green Design Center.

Exploring Alternatives to Traditional Drywall and Paint

Q: What options are available for someone looking for stylish, healthy, eco-friendly alternatives to paint on an interior wall?
- Heather B., Boston, MA 

A: Years ago, we really didn't have many products to chose from. Paint, plaster, ceramic tile and wallpaper were just about the extent of your wall finish options. Recently, manufacturers have been responding to the call for eco-chic finishes and there are numerous materials to choose from. Here are a few of my favorites:

1) Clay Plaster – The soft appearance of natural clay with all the style and design possibilities you'll want. Now with the introduction of the new Up and EZ admixture, American Clay wall plaster is easier to apply than ever before. I'm not a plasterer, but I love working with this product.

2) Natural Linoleum – For the walls? Yes! Forbo is now making a pre-panelized natural linoleum wainscot material. While it was designed for commercial application, I fend it to be a great alternative for boring painted bead board. Beyond that, Forbo makes a wonderful natural linoleum/cork blend called Bulletin Board, which is perfect for home office walls, kitchen planning deck backsplash, etc.

3) Cork Wallcovering – Produced by Amorim in Portugal, Ipocork wall covering is both incredibly stylish and highly durable. This is not the granulated cork used for tackboards that you might remember from decades ago. Decorative patterns finished with either a clear varnish or wax.

4) Natural Paint - I know you asked for a non-paint product, but I feel that the new AFM Naturals Paint is such a complete departure from latex paint as we know it, that I had to mention it. Water based latex paint as we know it is made from petroleum based plastics such as acrylic and vinyl. AFM's Naturals Paint is made from 100% organically sourced plant oils and ground-found minerals. It applies as smooth as traditional oil-based paint, yet it cleans up with soap and water. If you are looking to eliminate plastics from your home, this would be a great start.

As I said, there are so many new and exciting materials available and I just can list them all. So, feel free to send me an email if you need additional recommendations.

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