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Why Natural Stone is a Great Choice for Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality is a building industry term that several years ago very few people knew or put much thought into. With the growing emphasis on green construction and achieving various LEED points and certifications, Indoor Air Quality, or IAQ as we’ll refer to it in the rest of this article, has gotten a lot more attention paid to it than ever before. If you’ve ever walked into a building towards the end of construction, as the finished surfaces are nearing completion, you’ve probably caught a whiff of something that you would definitely not consider “natural”. The initial installation of flooring materials and paints, along with the harsh chemicals that these surfaces sometimes get cleaned with post installation can create quite the odor, which sometimes isn’t being handled properly if the ventilation system is still being installed or run at lower than normal volumes.

The natural stone industry has known for a long time that natural stone products have tremendous advantages over other similar products in the building materials industry. Let’s take a quick look at what some of these advantages are and specifically how our Norstone natural stone wall veneer products can help out with indoor air quality.

Natural Stone Feature Wall with TV in an Atlanta Loft for improved Indoor Air Quality

To understand how natural stone can help with indoor air quality, let’s first get a handle on some of the main drivers of poor indoor air quality. From a building material standpoint, any products that can off gas Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) can negatively impact indoor air quality. The list of products that might have VOCs is long – carpeting, certain types of engineered and hardwood floors, cabinetry, furniture, adhesives, and paint to name a few. One of the biggest culprits as far as building materials and contributing to VOCs is formaldehyde which is used in a variety of composite wood products. Various chemical solvents can be present in adhesives and paint that will also contribute VOCs into the air.

Natural Stone has such an advantage when it comes to Indoor Air Quality because quite simply – it’s natural. A great example is the comparison between a carpeted floor and a floor set with a natural stone tile product like travertine tiles. The carpet, unless certified otherwise, is likely to emit a bunch of VOCs into the air, mainly from the glue used to adhere the carpet and pad to the sub floor as well as the latex binder which secures the strands of the carpet to the carpet backer itself. Compare that with a natural stone tile which releases no VOCs, and pair it with a no VOC thinset to install the tile with and you’ve got a clear winner in the Indoor Air Quality battle. And on a side note – the life cycle cost of replacing carpet every couple years will greatly out weight the higher up front cost of a durable hard surface like a natural stone tile.

Norstone Charcoal Rock Panels used as the natural stone wall veneer on a fireplace project for Improved Indoor Air Quality

A similar VOC example exists when looking at wall finishes and comparing a painted wall versus a wall with a natural stone veneer wall covering like any of our Norstone Natural Stone Products. Paint, unless certified non VOC, is a huge contributor to poor Indoor Air Quality. Compare that to a natural stone wall veneer product like our Standard Series Rock Panels, Aksent 3D Honed Panels, or Large Format Planc Wall Tiles, which have been tested and certified to emit no VOCs and you’ll not only get better Indoor Air Quality, but also a tremendously better looking wall. Natural Stone Veneer can contribute to LEED credits, specifically by Credit 3.2 related Indoor Air Quality.

Natural Stone Feature Wall of Norstone Ivory Rock Panels with low slung couch and large window in a suburban NJ home for improved Indoor Air Quality

Thanks for taking some time today to learn more about Indoor Air Quality and how natural stone building material products can help contribute to improving IAQ. White still in its infancy, Indoor Air Quality is something that the general public will start to take notice of more and more and some day in the future the idea of constructing a building with materials that can potentially harm its inhabitants will sound as crazy as drinking when you’re pregnant did 50 years ago. So jump on the bandwagon early and consider natural stone products for your next new construction or remodeling project today.

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Norstone's New Dimensions in Natural Stone blog aims to discuss design themes, sources of inspiration, and how the world around us influences our creative interpretation and buying preferences.

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