Well, we’ve survived another week of home ownership! We moved in a few weeks ago and have already made a lot of progress. We painted the walls, had the hardwood floors refinished, cleaned the house, fixed some electrical problems, put in closet organizing systems, cleaned out the gutters, and have started unpacking.
Like I promised in my first blog post about the house, I am going to write about the different projects we take on and how we will strive to make them as eco-friendly as possible, starting with refinishing the hardwood floors and painting.
Indoor air is three times more polluted than outdoor air, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, paint and finishes are among the leading causes that makes it one of the top five hazards to human health. Because of that, we wanted to make sure our floors and walls were finished with eco-friendly products when possible.
Project #1: Refinish hardwood floors
Fun fact about the first time we saw our house: it was in the dark without power. We had been looking at other houses that evening and by the time we got to our house, it was completely dark because the house had been vacant for three months. So we had to look at it with flash lights. And being the crazy people we are, we decided to put an offer on it anyway. It wasn’t until we had submitted the offer that we went back and saw that the floors could use some TLC. So when the sale was official, it was the first thing we jumped on. Unfortunately, due to our short time frame I didn’t have time to research environmentally-friendly products so we went with the products our contractor recommended in order to get the job done on time.
However, as you can see from the before and after photos above, they look great. And while we had some issue with the fumes (I had trouble sleeping the first night we slept there) overall they weren’t bad and with some airing out, would say they were completely gone within a week.
Now this is where I give a shout out to our contractor, David Volk of Solitude Hardwood Floors, who did an amazing job. He was able to do the work on our timeline and finished on time. Plus, he did a few patch jobs where the floors needed some extra attention and he was extremely affordable. If you live in the Portland Metro area, I highly recommend using him.
Project #2: Paint the walls
In addition to the condition of the floors, we also didn’t realize how bright the wall colors were as we were touring our home in the dark. But hidden behind the darkness was a very colorful house! We had a blue, green, orange, yellow, red and purple wall to paint over. I’m not sure how long it’s been since you have painted anything, but my memories of painting were not good. Growing up I remember hating the terrible smell and not being able to sleep in my room for a few days after my mom painted my room in fourth grade. Luckily, paint has drastically improved in quality and there are a lot of brands and styles of low- or no-VOC paint available. VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are terrible smelling chemicals that vaporize into the air. They can cause headaches and nausea, especially if you don’t ventilate the space properly, which is why my memory of painting was so bad. But, when you paint with low- or no-VOC paint, you don’t have to deal with those fumes.
Unfortunately, low- or no-VOC paint can be more expensive than the regular stuff, so before you go out and purchase it, you may want to look up some coupons or search for sales to save some dough. Luckily for us we purchased a Chinook Book last year, and had a few great buy-one-get-one offers that saved us around $80. If you don’t have a Chinook Book, I highly recommend you purchase one.The money you save on paint alone will pay for the cost of your book several times over. If you don’t live in an area where it is available, I suggest looking for coupons online or watching for sales at your local paint store to bring the cost down.
Also, in case you’re curious, here is the paint we chose:
Living room/dining room/hallway: Hidden Cove in Acro Pure (no VOC) by Miller Paint
Master bedroom: Plume Grass in Divine Green (low VOC) by Miller Paint
Spare bedroom/office: Cape Hope in Divine Green by Miller Paint
Trim: Prismatic Pearl in Evolution (low VOC) by Miller Paint
Another eco-friendly option is to purchase recycled paint. If you live in the Portland area like we do, you can visit Metro and purchase recycled paint. The downside is that you might not be able to get the exact shade you want, and you have to purchase all the paint you need at once due to color consistency, but it’s a great way to get paint at a lower cost.
How about you? How to you balance quality/cost/environmental concerns when working on house projects? I’d love to hear from you and if you have advice, I’d love to hear that too!