The True Cost Of Synthetic Materials And Finishes

The True Cost Of Synthetic Materials And Finishes


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Moving into a new home or office? When deciding on which materials and finishes to look for in that new shelf or table, there are always considerations to be made.

Ever notice a certain pungent smell that emanates from a synthetic-based piece of furniture? It could be you’re inhaling the invisible fumes from the formaldehyde found in melamine material. That’s right, this type of furniture is the same harmful toxic chemical compound used in automotive coatings and certified as dangerous for ingestion.

It’s also not the best thing to inhale – a person might be unlikely to get sick by breathing in the air near synthetic furniture but it can be extremely irritable to the eyes, nose and lungs in both the short and long term. The human senses can never be underestimated – if the body’s system is rejecting the air around it, you can be sure there’s a good reason.

Scents have an undoubted effect on a person’s mood, so it’s safe to say it’s better to steer clear of materials that can be an irritant and possibly affect productivity at the office and happiness in the home.

We cannot leave out the finishes on wooden furniture and floorings either – keep a look out for the unhealthy finishes on wood that can contain an increasingly common term – VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds – and heavy metals which could include cadmium, lead, zinc and acetate.

There are a multitude of wood finishes, and there are some finishes that require strict safety procedures to apply but completely safe and irreversible once dried and hardened. One such finish is nitrocellulose lacquer, an ingredient in Home Treasures’ ever popular 5-step soft glow finish. The solvents used to coat the wood with the lacquer are extremely volatile, and the gases from the solvents are toxic and flammable, so strict safety procedures must be adhered to during the coating process, but by the time the furniture enters the home, the gases have all but evaporated, leaving the piece not only completely safe and stable, but also scratch-proof with a durable soft sheen.

Another example of a natural solution we use is a water-based finish, which doesn’t emit VOCs. This procedure requires a longer curing period, up to 2 weeks, and is still removable with a solvent, but this method is in line with our commitment to providing safer, more durable and beautifully subtle finishes.

There is no one good solution or one singular good material to adhere to with the many choices out there in the market, but a good idea would be to stick to materials and finishes as close to nature as possible. With the safer and healthier alternatives, the cost of working and living in an uncomfortable environment can be significantly reduced.