Flooring, roofing and wall solutions made with U.S.-grown soy are a green alternative to standard building and construction materials.

Beyond Food: At Home with Sustainable Soy

Lisa Humphreys

Lisa Humphreys

United Soybean Board

The use of bio-based products, including soy-based products, has grown rapidly in the last few years, thanks to their reputation for being a more cost-effective, greener and healthier option than products made with traditional ingredients, like petroleum.

One industry that has benefited from bio-based products? Building and construction. Soy-based products can be used in many areas of building, including adhesives, plastics, insulation, barriers, sealants and coatings. In fact, there are more than 1,000 soy-based building products currently on the market!

Soy-based construction products are a greener, lower toxicity solution to traditional petroleum-based products, since they don’t produce as many volatile organic compounds. As an added bonus, soy-based building solutions often perform the same as products made with more traditional components.

Let’s look at how you can add soy-based products to your home to enrich and protect it.

Soy-based Flooring

Flooring is a vital aspect of your home! Babies crawl on it and the family pet sleeps on it. That’s why many homeowners are concerned about the health effects of formaldehyde and other carcinogens that may be present in flooring.

This concern led to the development of a soy-based foam that replaces petrochemicals in carpet backing, as well as soy-based adhesives that replace formaldehyde in wood flooring composites. HempWood uses soy-based adhesives to create sustainable hemp flooring that looks like hardwood. Companies like HempWood help homeowners attain their vision without the harsh chemicals.

Soy-based Roofs

Roof integrity and performance is critical for homeowners; however, over time asphalt shingles can crack and leak, causing extensive (and expensive!) damage.

Roof treatments, such as Roof Maxx, offer soy-based solutions to rejuvenate asphalt shingles, restoring flexibility and extending longevity. In addition to being a food-grade formula that’s safe for people, pets, property and the environment, soy-based roof treatments can also help reduce waste by keeping shingles out of landfills. Just one treatment can extend the life of asphalt shingles for another five years – saving homeowners thousands of dollars!

Soy-based Wall Solutions

Soy-based adhesives also play an important role in plywood, which makes up the bones of any home.

Research supported by U.S. Soy led to the development of a soy-based, formaldehyde-free resin that bonds wood together. Since 2005, more than 100 million formaldehyde-free plywood panels have been produced at a price comparable to urea-formaldehyde panels.

So, if you’re remodeling your home, check out PureBond® by Columbia Forest Products or SoyStrong® hardwood from States Industries for plywood that uses soy-based adhesives, instead of formaldehyde.

And, once you finish building those walls, consider filling them with soy-based insulation, which is more environmentally friendly than traditional insulation.

One example of this is Demilec Inc.’s spray foam polyurethane insulation, HEATLOK SOY®. The product contains 14% recycled and renewable content, primarily from recycled plastic bottles and soy. In addition, the insulation only requires a single application, saving both time and money in construction costs.

Soy-based Paint, Paint Strippers and Stains

For many years, soybean oil has been a major ingredient in making alkyd resins, an ingredient in oil-based paints. Soybean oil promotes film formation, gloss, flexibility and cure in paint. In addition, extensive performance and application testing have demonstrated that soy-based paint performs as well as or better than current petrochemical-based paints.

Green Planet Paints produces durable paints from natural ingredients, including soy, clay and mineral pigments. But, if you decide you don’t like the first color you picked out, don’t worry! Soy-based paint strippers can help you safely remove paint or varnish. Made with 100% U.S. grown soybeans, Franmar’s Blue Bear® Lead-Out paint stripper will help revamp your DIY projects.

Soy-based wood stains are also available for your home renovation needs. Rust-Oleum offers Varathane® wood stains, made with soy, deliver sustainability and performance benefits. Soy’s hydrophobic nature also increases the water resistance of wood stains, making it a great option for outdoor applications.

So, whether you’re building your dream home, or just repainting the kitchen, consider using soy-based products. Not only will they help protect your family from potential toxins, but they can also lower your carbon footprint while enriching the quality of your home.

Want to learn more about the many uses of soy beyond food? Explore how soy shows up in personal care products and learn how to further enhance your home with soy-based products.