Choosing natural building materials could boost your health

By Lizzie

While the impact of buildings on the environment is coming under a brighter spotlight, so is the impact of buildings on the people who inhabit them. More people are keen to live in dwellings that bring in lots of natural light, for example, and maintain a comfortable temperature. Increasingly, home owners are paying attention to how the fabric of their homes could affect them and are turning to natural building materials.

The TAS team recently had a talk from Clayworks, a company that manufactures natural clay plasters in Cornwall. Made from raw materials, the plaster is recyclable, compostable, re-usable and contains no toxin ingredients – all good credentials when creating a healthy wall finish.

One feature of clay plaster that stood out for us is that it regulates relative humidity, allowing the building to breath. This is particularly important to ensure condensation doesn’t build up, which would be bad news in the long run. Clay plaster can also absorb toxins, odours and acoustics.

We were also impressed by how versatile the clay plasters are, creating a range of finishes. Often, a challenge can be matching sustainability with creating the right aesthetic for a home. This clay plaster comes in a range of colours that would compliment a natural design palette.

The TAS team is looking into a range of natural products for several of our current projects. We’ve designed one new build home in Hertfordshire to be incredibly sustainable, which includes using natural materials such as wood fibre insulation to ensure the building will contribute to the health of its inhabitants.

There is a growing body of research that looks at the effect of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – chemicals that are present in many everyday products including paint, plasters and building materials. To avoid VOCs, some people are choosing alternatives such as a timber frame, bamboo, cork, straw or even mud – adobe is a mixture of earth and water that has been used for centuries.

While it might not be common now to build a house of mud, there’s a real argument for using more natural materials during construction. We’re always researching new products, so get in touch if you’d like to talk about options for your home or project.

Tags: Construction, Design

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