Think That Going Green Means Fewer Flooring Choices?
Think again, especially when it comes to your flooring options.
From hardwood, cork and bamboo to carpet, linoleum, glass, rubber and stone, innovative manufacturers are offering up a growing array of competitively priced, high wearing eco-friendly flooring choices.
Like many other products that claim to be green, it can be difficult to discern which flooring products meet the higher health environmental and health standards.
Third party certification systems such as GREEN GUARD- the Forest Stewardship Council(FSC) and Canada's ECOLOGO can help you identify which of these green products is in fact meeting the standards set out.
What lies beneath
Be aware of products whose environmental beauty is only skin deep. Often manufacturers use toxic binders and finishes that release volatile organic compounds or contain high levels of carcinogenic like formaldehyde.
Choose products that utilize water-based, solvent-free adhesives and finishes made from natural ingredients.
If carpet is your preferred choice be sure to ask about the underlayment, padding or cushion and product backing. In addition to more environmental friendly adhesives, many carpet backing are made from recycled material and/or natural materials.
Green flooring choice you can live with
Bamboo flooring is quickly becoming one of this years hottest flooring trends. Valued for it's hardness and resistance to mildew and insects, bamboo is available naturally and in a wide range of finishes and colors.
Environmental Building News states that "Environmentally, it's hard to argue with a wood substitute that matures in three yeas, regenerates without need for replanting and requires a minimum of fertilization and pesticides."
However, as harvesting and manufacturing practices can vary widely, there is no official grading system like FCS and consumers need to fully research the source of any product they purchase.
Harvested from the outer bark of the cork tree, cork flooring is waterproof and airtight which makes it resistant to moisture and decay.
The natural qualities of cork make it comfortable underfoot and a good insulator. In addition cork flooring is both hypo-allergenic and fire resistant.
Linoleum is a eco-friendly flooring product that is made from a mix of all-natural materials such as linseed oil, wood flour, rosin, jute and limestone. Linoleum is anti-bacterial, hypo-allergenic and antistatic making it a popular choice for hospitals.
Eco-friendly carpeting can now be found in a wide range of natural and recycle materials. From recycled rubber tires to soy fibers carpeting is no longer a mass contributor to the land fills, even old carpets are being recycled to make backing and underlayment.
Because wood as a material is eco-friendly, discussions of the "greenness" of hardwood flooring products tend to focus on sources rather than inherent characteristics.
According to the Wood Flooring Resource Group: "To determine if a given wood product is environmentally responsible, you need to know where the wood came from. If wood is harvested, the key questions to ask relate to the long-term social and environmental impacts of forest management. Harvested wood is only as environmentally sound as the forest management practices that stand behind it. At the end of the day, wood sustainability goes hand in hand with sustainable forestry."