When you’re thinking about changing your home to be a healthier space, an overlooked spot might be your windows. Or maybe you’ve been wondering about which are the best windows for a healthy home? Or maybe you’re planning for a future project and just starting your research on the best windows out there.
The truth is, many homeowners focus on the most energy efficient windows, ignoring potential toxins in them.
This makes sense, doesn’t it? This is what most window installers will demonstrate and educate about. They base the whole decision of the window on just one element.
Wouldn’t you want to spend time and effort changing things that have an impact on your health and the health of your home, rather than choosing a window for the wrong reasons?
This post is going to help you understand what materials are best for windows in a healthy home and I’m also going to share some of my favorite Healthy House approved window treatments.
HOW WINDOWS CAN IMPACT YOUR HEALTHY HOME
Many windows being replaced now are vinyl windows that are completely maintenance free. While these options are super convenient for the typical homeowner, there is a give and take when it comes to this option. The take is that vinyl contains toxins such as PVC, phthalates and even bisphenol toxins. Vinyl is a type of plastic that contains off-gassing chemicals that will enter your home. These chemicals are harmful to the natural production of hormones in our bodies and as we add more and more of these hormone disruptors to our home, our body, including the immune system, becomes suppressed and unable to function on a healthy level.
Other health risks include abnormal reproductive development, hormone disruption and neurological toxicity (STUDY)
Unsealed, wood windows can also be a potential problem in a healthy home. Wood is often treated with pesticides and fungicides to prevent any sort of bacteria from growing on the wood. While this is a REALLY good thing, it means that we can have pesticides and fungicides entering our space, which is not healthy. Untreated wood can also become damaged and harbor mold as it is a very porous surface.
THE BEST WINDOWS, LOW TOXIN
Powder Coated Aluminum: Aluminum that is coated is often the best window option as far as toxins go. It’s also usually a heavier duty window compared to vinyl windows. Aluminum is a metal that doesn’t off gas and generally doesn’t expose us to any sort of toxin. When the aluminum is powder coated, it means that a pigment is applied and heated to very high temperatures, covering the aluminum with a color.
They typically last for a REALLY long time when installed properly, which means it is a BUY IT FOR LIFE purchase as I like to say.
In the long run it can mean reducing the number of toxins that enter your space and waste created by replacing windows in your home. These are my healthy house approved best window pick.
Aluminum Clad: This is an aluminum window on the exterior and usually a wood window on the interior. This can be an excellent opinion as long as you seal the wood with your own sealer. This can help reduce any sort of potential wood treatment from entering your home. This is another option when you’re looking for the best windows.
Wood: Wood is a natural material and a great option for windows. The trick with wood windows is to make sure that you have the windows sealed with a low toxin sealer. This will help prevent the windows from taking on moisture and growing mold as well as reduce the risk for pesticides and fungicides entering your space.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE TOXIC WINDOWS CURRENTLY
New Vinyl Windows: These windows will need time to off gas as they are a new product. You may notice the odor of these windows (kind of that “new house” smell). This is the product off gassing. Typically new products off gas the most in the first six months to two years. During this time make sure your home has plenty of ventilation and fresh air circulating through it.
It’s also best not to have beds right below windows when they’re brand new because of the fact that this would be close proximity for a long period of time.
Old Vinyl Windows: Old vinyl windows most likely are done off gassing, and the concern for VOCs getting into your indoor air from older windows is fairly low. That being said, you should actively work to keep the area dry and clean to prevent any sort of mold from growing on the dust on scratched spots of the vinyl. This isn’t the best window solution, but it’s probably the most manageable option for a toxic window.
Wood Windows: You can seal the interior wood on windows to prevent any of the chemical treatments from entering your space. This is also a good way to preserve your windows for a long time. Any moisture that gets into the wood itself can cause issues with mold growth. And once mold has started on wood windows, it can be incredibly difficult to get rid of.
It’s also best to make sure that the windows don’t have condensation on them at any point in time. If they do, make sure you wipe the condensation off and make sure to open shades during the day to allow for air to circulate, keeping the area dry.
THE BEST WINDOW SHADES & BLINDS: TOXIN FREE
What to Avoid: Any blind that is made up of vinyl or PVC should generally be avoided. These materials contain many plastic toxins that we know are REALLY harmful to our neurological system, our hormone production, our immune system and reproductive system. Avoiding these plastic toxins (such as PVC, phthalates and bisphenol toxins) anywhere you can will just help unburden your body naturally.
Another blind material that generally contains toxins is in aluminum blinds. Most of them are made with a polyester based enamel finish that does off gas into your home.
You also want to be careful to avoid faux woods and composite blinds as they both contain elements of PVC toxins.
What to Buy: Some really great options for blinds are all natural bamboo blinds. Usually these are roll-up or roman style shades. You can find organic and green versions of these natural blinds that are not treated with any sort of chemicals. Earthshade is a GREAT option for an untreated version of bamboo natural blinds.
Blinds Chalet has a completely toxin free option for woven wood shades called the Tavarau Woven Wood Shades that is extremely cost effective and has no VOCs or toxins added to the natural fibers.
Another option is to shop at EarthShade, which is a sustainable, eco friendly company that offers a variety of shades that are not only toxin free but also conserve energy. A great, cost effective option for natural blinds.
Healthy House Picks: Earthshade, Wooden Shades
TOXIN FREE CURTAINS
What to Avoid: Most curtains, especially black out curtains have elements of PVC and vinyl added into the fabric. These toxins are harmful to the endocrine system as well as create problems with immune suppression and neurological issues.
Fabric curtains can also be sprayed or embedded with either formaldehyde, which will help keep them wrinkle free, or with perfluorochemical, which keep them stain resistant. These are both carcinogenic in nature and can off-gas for long periods of time.
Even cotton curtains can contain pesticides in the fabric that can end up in the dust and fibers around your home.
What to Buy: Organic curtains and organic blackout curtains are MUCH easier to find now than they ever have been before. You just have to know what to look for and how to shop for organic curtains and organic black out curtains in order to make a healthier choice.
First, look for a curtain that is 100% organic linen or cotton. From there you can look for the GOTS Certification or the Oeko-Tex Standard tag to help you determine the health of your product. Going with a product that is a natural color and doesn’t contain dyes is another great way to find organic curtains.
I have liked IKEA’s 100% cotton curtains that are partial light blocking. I have also had A LOT of luck shopping on Etsy for organic curtains. Home Depot also has a line of Organic Cotton Curtains and Drapes that are free from added chemicals.
Healthy House Picks: Organic Cotton Curtains
Whenever the time comes to replace your window or your window treatments, remember that you can do it in a really healthy way by choosing the best windows for your healthy home. No need to introduce unnecessary toxins to your space when you’re installing windows, changing curtains or adding blinds.