We start to put together the nursery months before baby is born so everything is ready. One of the things to think about in this respect is a safe way to decorate, as many methods give off nasty fumes and could contain harmful chemicals. So what eco-friendly, safe finishes can you use? Here are five of the best:
Chalk Style Paint
Chalk paint can be made from different ingredients, but all types use latex paint as a binding ingredient. It is worth noting, however, latex paint does not actually contain latex, but rather synthetic polymers such as acrylic. This is useful to know, as chalk style paint is safe for latex allergy sufferers. The chalk part can be made up from calcium carbonate, plaster of Paris or even baking soda, as well as ready-made chalk paint. If you do decide to make it yourself, it may be worth experimenting to see which method you prefer.
Milk paint is an all-natural product made from curds, hydrated lime and natural pigment. It is completely biodegradable, and is very easy to make, or you can buy it online from sites such as www.realmilkpaint.com.
When making milk paint, the idea is to separate the curds from the whey (as in cheese making), as you want concentrated milk proteins in the curds. Mix approximately ¾ cup of hydrated lime with 1½ cups of water to form a creamy paste. When you add this to the lumpy curds, it will start to turn it into a smooth paint. For the pigment, add equal amounts of water and pigment and work it into a smooth paste, then add it to the milk/lime mixture. Water can be added, but it is advisable to be careful, as you do not want the mixture to be too thin. The consistency should be like single cream.
Clay paint has a number of benefits for home use, and not just for the nursery. It is a breathable paint so is ideal in kitchen and bathrooms, as it can cut down on condensation. Being breathable, it is also useful in older buildings where damp could be a problem. Modern paints provide a non-permeable barrier to moisture; breathable paints allow moisture to evaporate instead of building up. Clay paints produce higher levels of negative ions, which reduce airborne allergies and dust, so this would be an ideal paint for nursery walls and ceilings.
Natural wood can be finished with beeswax, although it may be worth noting that some people have slight allergies to beeswax. Beeswax is added to roast walnut oil. This is then applied to furniture with a cloth. Please note that raw walnut oil can go off, so will need to be heated gently to cook it. The beeswax is then melted into the roasted oil.
Pure Linseed Oil
Linseed is a natural oil made from flax seeds. Please do not confuse it with boiled linseed oil, as this contains petroleum solvents, which could be harmful to children. Linseed oil has a history of being used to protect wood, but can leave an odor that some find off-putting.
Natural finishes are not only better for your family’s health, but are naturally better for the environment. Sometimes the old ways can often be the best (and cheapest!).