Flooring is one of the most important elements of any room, so when you're choosing new wood, tile, carpet or other floor covering, consider your options carefully. Environmentally-friendly flooring is procured and manufactured in a responsible manner and is available in practically any material, color and style.
When shopping for eco-friendly flooring you can choose from a wide variety of options that are made of wood cut from carefully managed forests, fast-growing renewable bamboo or cork, reclaimed wood from aging structures or carpeting made from recycled materials.
When you purchase green wood flooring described as 'FSC-Certified', that means it has passed a rigorous certification process carried out by the Forest Stewardship Council. This organization ensures that timber suppliers work to protect habitat, prevent pollution, plant more trees than are harvested and avoid displacing native peoples or harming wildlife. When you purchase FSC-Certified wood, you don't have to worry about the source of the flooring you're installing in your home or business. FSC-Certified environmentally friendly flooring is available in many of the same types of wood as non-certified flooring including oak, maple and cherry.
Bamboo is an environmentally friendly choice for flooring because it's easy to grow, requiring very little fertilizer or pesticides and highly renewable. This grass takes just 5 years to grow back to full height after it's harvested, as opposed to the 50-150 years required by most hardwoods. Not only does bamboo flooring have a beautiful, distinctive striped look, it's also durable and long-lasting.
Reclaimed Wood Flooring
Another environmentally friendly option for wood flooring is reclaimed wood. Flooring that is still in good condition may be salvaged after a renovation or demolition, but wood from other structures, including barn siding or even wine barrels, can also be used. Reclaimed wood flooring is typically kiln-dried, cleaned of metal debris like nails and scrubbed clean. This type of wood flooring tends to have a lot of character, infusing a sense of history into a space.
Cork is soft underfoot, resilient, renewable and sustainable. Grown in protected forests in Portugal, Spain, Morocco and other Mediterranean countries, cork is harvested from the trunk of the tree, so the tree doesn't have to be cut down. Naturally waterproof, insulating, sound-absorbing and shock-absorbing, it resists mold and mildew. Cork flooring is available in a wide variety of colors and textures, in both plank and tile form.
Carpet is usually one of the least eco-friendly types of flooring, packed with toxic chemicals and producing large amounts of waste. But more and more carpet companies, like Shaw, Beaulieu and FLOR, are now offering carpet that's non-toxic and environmentally responsible. FLOR's modular carpet tiles are made from 85 percent recycled fibers. Beaulieu offers PVC-free Nexterra carpet tiles, made of 53 percent post-consumer waste including PET bottles. Other options include natural, renewable materials like sisal, jute and wool.
Recycled Glass and Ceramic Tiles
Colorful recycled glass and ceramic tiles are a great environmentally-friendly flooring choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Not only is tile scratch-resistant and fire-resistant, lasting years beyond other types of flooring, it's also easy to clean. Recycled tile is now widely available and can be found in practically any color you can imagine. Crossville ceramic tiles are made from 50-100 percent in-house manufacturing waste, which would otherwise be discarded. Fireclay Tile offers ceramic tiles made from 60 percent recycled materials and 100 percent recycled glass tiles.
If you're seeking a budget-friendly tile alternative, but don't want the negative environmental impact of conventional linoleum flooring, Marmoleum may be a good option. This floor covering is made from renewable materials like linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour and ground cork dust with burlap or canvas backing. Unlike vinyl linoleum, it does not off-gas toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
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