As a discerning homeowner, every choice you make involves a variety of factors. And floors are no exception. You have to love how it looks, like how it feels on your feet, trust that it cleans up without too much effort and lasts a long time – and since you care about the planet that we live on….it needs to be healthy for your family and eco-friendly, too. Is this too much to ask?
Happily, the answer is no. Actually, there are so many eco-friendly flooring choices available now that you may have a hard time deciding which alternative to choose. We’ve simplified your search by highlighting some great options in this handy product showcase.
Fast-growing bamboo is a great choice for flooring. You might have heard that they are not as durable as wood floors, but in reality, they can last just as long. The choice of type of bamboo product will affect its hardness and therefore durability. It is possible to achieve different looks with horizontal grain, vertical grain, strand, solid, engineered, and carbonized bamboo. It is also important to understand the manufacturing process and the finishes used in your bamboo flooring. The best choices are high-quality water-based and non-toxic finishes. These will not off-gas toxic chemicals or delaminate. And don’t forget the importance of choosing the right underlayment.
Some manufactures are specializing in strand bamboo. This creates a product which has the look of hardwood with the benefits of using rapidly renewable bamboo and scrap wood. Even more impressive, strand bamboo is as hard, or harder, than most wood floors. Some types of strand bamboo flooring come in at an incredible 3200+ on the Janka scale! That is even harder than Brazilian Cherry.
The more prominent and green friendly manufacturers manage their own plantations and can therefore grow with minimal impact on the natural ecosystem and without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. Look for the durable Moso bamboo which companies harvest after 6 years and use as the the prime component.
Bamboo, a popular green flooring option, is 13 percent harder than maple and 27 percent harder than northern red oak, so it lasts longer and can withstand more use than conventional hardwood floors. The floors are naturally resistant to water, mildew, and insects, and they are sustainable since bamboo grows quickly and abundantly.
Yes, solid or engineered hardwood floors can be sustainable. Think of it this way, wood is actually sequestered carbon. But not all wood is eco-friendly. You need to know the answers to a number of questions to evaluate which is the right product for you. Was it sustainably-harvested? Were only non-toxic finishes used in the manufacture and processing? What green certifications does the product achieve? Does it use recycled or reclaimed materials?
Cork is one of the very best of eco-friendly choices – renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable! The cork raw material is sustainably harvested from cork oak trees. This does not damage the tree and in fact, gives farmers an economic reason to keep forests and their carbon sequestration benefits. Cork oak forests also help to regulate the water cycle and combat desertification.
As a flooring material, cork has natural thermal insulating properties, is a noise barrier, and is oh-so-comfortable on your bare feet. There are also great non-toxic choices for adhesive and moisture barrier.
While softwoods are rarely considered ideal flooring material, cork is an excellent choice for many reasons. The natural elasticity of cork makes these floors especially comfortable; the wood provides thermal and acoustic insulation; and the durable floors recover well from marks left by furniture or high heels. The floors are also hypo-allergenic, so they won’t attract dust; are fire-resistant; and can even serve as a natural insect repellant. Better yet, the floors are produced using the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows back every three years.
This is NOT your grandmother’s linoleum. Marmoleum is made using time-tested, natural ingredients and is eco-friendly in manufacturing, use, and disposal. And as anyone who has been around knows, linoleum is virtually indestructible. In fact it becomes stronger over time. But what is making Marmoleum so on-trend these days is the range of different looks available now. Designers are mixing and matching colors, patterns, and orientation to create a mood – everything from traditional to eye-popping. This product can do it all.
- Huge range of styles and colors lets you customize your look.
- Uses rapidly-renewable and recycled content.
- Natural ingredients – linseed oil, limestone, tree rosin, wood flour, mineral pigments, jute.
- Through body color means that scratches are less noticeable.
- Topshield2 finish has naturally antibacterial ingredients – hygienic and easy to maintain.
- Unlike ceramic tile, it is warm underfoot.
- No health issues caused in the manufacturing, life, or disposal.
- Electricity used in manufacturing comes from 100% renewable sources.
- No off-gassing toxic fumes.
Wool Carpet and Area Rugs
Wool has so many great eco-benefits it is hard to know where to start. Wool rugs feel great underfoot. By nature (pun intended), it is stain-resistant, fire-retardant, non-toxic, soft, warm, renewable, biodegradable, insulating, allergen-filtering, sound-deadening, and durable. Wool can be crafted with many stylish textures and comes in many lovely natural colors or can be safely dyed using organic ingredients.
There are also a variety of great sustainable choices for non-toxic wool or rubber pads for your carpet.
They create 100% natural fiber carpets and area rugs. They use natural colored wool pile, hemp and cotton backing, jute secondary backing, and natural rubber adhesive. The colors are either naturally-pigmented or make use of organic dyes. There are NO added chemical treatments needed.
- Wool does not off-gas.
- Wool filters allergens and dust.
- Wool is naturally stain-resistant and is durable
- Product is biodegradable.
- No toxic adhesives or backings.
- No chemical treatments.
- Can be serge bound using the same yarn on the face of the carpet to create a lovely area rug.