8 Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips For A Greener Home

8 Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips for a greener home, easy things you can do right now to create a healthy home.

Buying a new house is exciting especially if it's your first. I remember when my hubby and I bought our little bungalow in the east end of Toronto. It was both exciting and terrifying.

We had a lot to fix and the idea of completely gutting the house and making sure everything was as green as possible was a daunting one. We learned quickly that building a house from scratch is cheaper than trying to retrofit one to be more sustainable. We did a ton of research on how to make our new (old) home more eco-friendly.

First, get a home energy audit 

The first thing we did once we purchased it was to have a Home Energy Assessment which once completed gave us an objective review of the energy use in our home and determined a rating for the house based on a scientific assessment and the EnerGuide Rating System.

We got a customized written report which included our home's Energuide Rating and a checklist of recommended upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of our home and a few tips on water conservation as well.

Once the biggest thing for us was insulation, our home was very poorly insulated, so we starer in the attic. A well-insulated attic will reduce your heating loss anywhere from 20-60%.  There are a ton of rebates available to Ontario residents right now to help you update your home.

Here are eight things to think about when renovating:

Paint Removal

 Should be done with water-based, low-allergy paint strippers. The ingredients to avoid when picking a paint stripper is called dichloromethane (DCM), which is a known carcinogen.

Keep in mind there is not a 100% safe paint stripper on the marker. There are ones that are safer. It's best to open all the windows, wear a mask and take the proper precautions. There were a few places in the house we need to strip paint, we used this one.


 We used a sander that had a vacuum attachment, and make sure to wear a mask as well. If your floor has been previously treated the fine dust generated from sanding can be filled with harmful chemicals, so again keep the windows open.

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If your house is over 40 years old, odds are the paint that was used contains lead. If you are renovating and breaking into walls where lead may be present, it's really important to test your home for lead. You can pick up a lead testing kit at any hardware store. If the test is positive, you need to move out during the renovations and have a professional come to access the home. We were lucky we never had to do this, but we did test the house for lead paint before we begin any construction.


 I am not a huge fan simply because it's so hard to DIY. We have one wall in the bedroom that has wallpaper on it. I added borax, instead of fungicide to the mixture to prevent fungal growth. It seems to have worked really well.


Thanks to paints, furniture and the stuffing inside our sofa's, now more than ever, indoor air pollution can be 5-10 times higher than outdoor pollution thanks to something called off-gassing.

Off-gassing occurs when new, manufactured items in our homes release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals. Consider the last few furniture items you purchased —  maybe the leather couch had a “new car smell” for a few weeks. That odour is a result of finishes, paint, glue, and other substances emitting chemical particles as they settle.

Try to pick paints that gave lower VOC's, there is a lot of misinformation out there related to VOC's, this is an amazing guide to low VOC paints.

Here is a list of low VOC paints Farrow & Ball Water-Based EggshellBenjamin Moore AuraSherwin-Williams Duration HomeCIL Dulux Natural WhitesC2 LoVo

You can also opt for natural paints made from milk. Casein is a milk protein that is combined water, limestone, clay and natural pigments such as berries, roots, and minerals. Homestead House is a good place to start.

Clay paints are also becoming more popular, they are normally composed of plant- and mineral-based ingredients, including essential oils, clays, and pigments.

Check out: Green Planet PaintsEco House. We the Benjamin Moore Natura paint.

Go natural

 in some cases, you can leave the paint out altogether and go for natural, unpainted finishes like cork and wood. We used barn wood for our exposed beam, our kitchen island, and our laundry area.

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Recycle and Upcycle

Anything we did not use, like an old basin from the laundry room, we were careful how it was reduced and send it to Habitat For Humanity's Restore. The same went for the old toilets, kitchen sink, and even shower. You can also reuse slate or ceramic tiles for landscaping. We used old crates in the bathroom and living room for storage.

Be Safe with toxins

 It's very important to discard of toxic paints etc. properly. These things should never ever be poured down the drain, yours or a stormwater one. These toxins can seriously harm our groundwater, streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and oceans. We took all of our materials to our local community environment days, which offer residents the opportunity to reuse, recycle or safely dispose of items including household goods, electronics, and household hazardous waste in their own neighbourhoods. Look for these across Canada.

Want to know more about greening your home? You will like these articles as well.

How To Go Green + Save Money
Where To Find Zero Waste Supplies in Canada
Is Your Shower Curtain Toxic For Your Health?

Do you have any Eco-Friendly Renovation Tips for a greener home? Share in the comments below.

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    Ruth Albiston


    You were on the Marilyn Denis show and showed an air cleaner. It was white and very flat. Could you let me know the brand of that air cleaner?