Refinishing antique furniture for a baby’s nursery

We all agree that the greenest piece of furniture is one that already exists. But before you refurbish your mother’s favorite heirloom, or scour garage sales for the diamond in the rough, be sure to take some precautions, especially if you’re looking to furnish a baby’s nursery.

The first step is to check for lead. If the item was built and painted before 1978, it may contain the toxic substance, which is a major health hazard, especially for children. Learn how to check for lead on the EPA’s website.

If you’re free and clear, you’re ready to get started. We’ve discussed the dangers of many popular home improvement materials, and wood sealants are no different. Many wood sealants contain harmful chemicals, so before you purchase one, take a close look at its ingredients, and only select low-emitting products.

Follow the low-emitting materials credit in LEED, which caps VOC content at 275 g/l for clear wood finishes such as varnishes, sanding sealers and lacquer. Or choose products that comply with the California Department of Public Health Standard Method V1.1–2010, CA Section 01350 (considered the most advanced testing procedure used in the marketplace). Thanks to programs such as LEED, there are a variety of options on the market for these types of materials.

Need a shortcut? Look for low-emitting products that have been third-party certified and labeled by organizations such as GREENGUARD and GreenSeal.

When you find your finish, try to keep your painting, staining and finishing work outside. VOCs and hazardous airborne pollutants are much more of a health concern when the product is still wet. Be sure to wait to bring it inside until it’s good and dry.

Learn more about creating a healthy room for your child