Eco Friendly Kitchen Wall Covering Ideas

eco friendly kitchen wall coveringYou want your kitchen to be green and eco friendly – after all, it’s the heart of home.

Plus, it’s where you do all your food preparation, so it makes sense to avoid toxic chemicals in this area.

(By the way – if you want to skip to the end and get a free report on all the different options that you can choose for your kitchen, just scroll down a bit and find the picture of the house with the red lifebuoy around it. Then you can download the report).

What’s on the walls of your current kitchen?

  • For example – if it’s painted, the paint may contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds – toxic vapours emitted from solvents, paint, glue, and adhesives) which are harmful to our health.  Older paints also used to contain lead (see here for how to find out if you have lead-based paint in your home) .
  • If you’ve got wallpaper, the adhesives frequently contain formaldehyde and chemical toxins that, over time, emit VOCs.
  • Many tiles aren’t particularly eco friendly, and the grout and certain surfaces can cause problems with air quality.

Some of the negative health effects from toxins include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Impaired memory or vision
  • Respiratory illness
  • Chronic headaches

But thankfully today, you have many other options for green and eco friendly kitchen wall coverings.

Let’s look at some cool ideas.

Later, I’ll look at grasscloth, paperweave and more.

But first, let’s look at a common kitchen wall covering – tiles.

Eco Friendly Kitchen Wall Covering: Tiles

kitchen tiles can be an eco friendly kitchen wall covering

Kitchen tiles. Photo credit:

Most tile companies will tell you that tiles are green, eco friendly and natural.

Well … maybe.

Yes, it’s true that most tiles are “natural”.

But natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for the environment.  (Natural is not always good for you either – arsenic is natural).

  • Many tiles are made from clay, which is fairly common, but it’s not renewable – we’re taking out clay far faster than it can ever be replaced.  As for granite or marble – once it’s removed from the mountain, it’s gone.
  • The manufacturing process for most tiles involves extremely high heat, which uses a lot of energy and generates significant emissions.
  • And most tiles are heavy, so their transportation is not eco friendly.

Having said that, there are some very good points about using tiles as an eco friendly kitchen wall covering. What’s more, when you know what to ask for, you can make sure that your tiles are as green as possible.

Here’s what’s good about tiles:

  1. They are durable. They last a long time – often up to 50 years or more if they’re installed correctly. This means you won’t use more resources buying new replacements, and you don’t need to consider the manufacturing, transportation, installation, demolition and disposal of new materials.
  2. Most tiles will survive fire and floods
  3. Most tiles are colour-fast and don’t fade. Again, this means you don’t need to replace them.
  4. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are made from materials which are normally sourced close to the factories, thus reducing fuel consumption and transportation emissions.
  5. And most tiles don’t absorb or emit pollutants. If you use the correct grout in between the tiles, they will inhibit the growth of mould, mildew, fungus and viruses, letting you breathe easier.
  6. The majority of tiles are very easy to keep clean, and don’t need toxic chemicals to keep them clean. That’s very important in an eco friendly kitchen!

How To Make Tiles Even More Eco Friendly

How to make tiles an eco friendly kitchen wall covering

Kitchen Tiles. Photo Credit: afreakatheart.

Now that you know not to be fooled by the “natural” statements of tile companies, there are also ways that you can make sure that the tiles you buy are even more green and eco friendly.

Tile manufacturers can actually do a LOT to improve how they make tiles – and they save money and help the environment in the process.  Here are some examples.

Many tile manufacturers are making tiles with a percentage of recycled materials.  Again, this seems good – but if all they’re doing is putting in a small percentage of recycled materials, they’re probably just using some of their own waste. Which is good – but I think they could do more.

Using recycled ingredients in tiles is good because it reduces energy use – making a product from waste material typically requires less energy than fabricating one from raw materials. This, in turn, helps slash fuel use in manufacturing and reduce environmental pollution.

I like the company Eco Friendly Tiles  – they’ve got a fun video which shows what they’re doing to help the planet.

Don’t forget you can get:

  • Glass tiles made from 100% recycled glass.
  • Metal tiles made from 100% recycled aluminium.
glass is an eco friendly kitchen wall covering

Recycled glass worktop
Photo: resilica com

Want to be a knowledgeable consumer? Here’s what to ask when you’re buying tiles:

  • Is the company making efforts to minimize waste and reduce energy during manufacturing? For example:
    • a company could use a water filtration system that captures fine particles that would have ended up in a landfill.
    • they could make tiles from marble dust and natural pigments.
    • they can cure tiles instead of firing them in a kiln, to save energy.
  • Are the tiles made with recycled materials and if so, what is the percentage? (Look for at least 50% recycled material)
  • Are the tiles made with abundant or sustainable materials?
  • Is the company making efforts to use green business practices?

And Another Benefit of Recycled Tiles

Although recycled-content glass tiles are good for the environment, they are also prized by many interior designers because some types have special decorative qualities, such as translucent iridescence, not found in other tiles.

What Else Can I Use for an Eco Friendly Kitchen Wall Covering?

Of course there are many options available that will give you an eco friendly kitchen wall covering.

And some of them will surprise you!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dani 27th May 2015, 4:40 PM

    We recently used out of circulation copper coins to create a splashback for our kitchen. (view at Yes, resin was used to hold it all together, but, providing you allow that to dry / cure properly before installing, there are no additional fumes.

    • Clare Delaney 30th May 2015, 5:38 PM

      Great idea Dani – the coins will be hard-wearing, present a unique and fascinating focal point, and of course are very green and eco friendly as no new resources are needed. Thanks for sharing this!