5 Options for Eco-friendly Flooring
Posted by: Genesis Floors
More and more homeowners are embracing the green trend. From efficient heating systems to low-flow faucets, there are many ways to go green with your home improvement projects. And one of them is selecting eco-friendly flooring. Maryland flooring experts from Genesis Flooring are here to give you an overview of the green flooring materials available on the market today.
What is Eco-friendly?
The term eco-friendly (or green) has evolved over the years to mean a few different things. When it’s used to describe flooring, “eco-friendly” is often referring to any one or all of the following qualities:
- Sustainable—when the source of the flooring material can be quickly and easily reproduced, so that harvesting it doesn’t leave a gaping hole in the ecosystem.
- Environmentally friendly—when flooring manufacturing uses as few natural resources as possible and harm to the environment is limited.
- Nontoxic—flooring that doesn’t increase indoor air pollution through off-gassing of toxic chemicals used during manufacturing or installation.
- Recycled—flooring that contains recycled or re-purposed materials.
With these three characteristics in mind, let’s take a look at the most eco-friendly flooring materials available on the market today.
Bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree. Bamboo stalks can be harvested without harm to the roots, so the plant keeps growing and producing new shoots without the need for replanting. Due to its fast rate of growth, bamboo reaches maturity in just 3 to 5 years, while it may take other tree species anywhere from 20 to 120 years to fully mature. Fertilizers are often not necessary to sustain fast bamboo growth. Bamboo flooring is extremely durable and, depending on the species and the manufacturing process, it can be as hard (if not harder than) oak, maple and other traditional flooring materials. Therefore, bamboo flooring can last a long time in residential use with proper care—many manufacturers offer lifetime warranties for surface wear.
Did you know that cork floors are made of tree bark? That’s right, cork is bark of the cork oak that lives up to 500 years and sheds its bark naturally every 9 to 15 years. This makes cork an easily renewable flooring material. Besides, cork that is used to manufacture flooring is a byproduct of wine manufacturing, which makes it even “greener.” Due to its porous construction, cork offers several important benefits, such as flexibility, soundproofing and insulation. For these reasons, it’s often used as an underlayment, but in recent years it’s been popular as a flooring surface as well. In spaces like kitchens and playrooms, it can provide necessary cushion for comfortable standing and soft landings.
Engineered hardwood is manufactured in a way that allows it to stretch natural resources and produce more finished floor boards from a single tree. Instead of making a board out of a solid piece of wood, manufacturers attach a veneer wood layer to a composite base made of several wood layers. This way you get the look and feel of hardwood without wasting valuable trees on the part of the board that no one will see. Engineered hardwood is, in fact, more stable than solid hardwood, because it experiences fewer seasonal changes. Thanks to its mutli-layer construction, it can be installed with equal success both below and above grade.
Reclaimed hardwood is wood that was previously used in other constructions, but is now being repurposed as a flooring material. This could be wood from old barns, crates, old buildings and even shipwrecks. Reclaimed hardwood offers a unique look and antique charm, as well as an opportunity to give a second life to a piece of history.
Are you familiar with the new carpet smell? Maybe you even like it, but did you know that it’s produced by thousands of toxins escaping your carpet? Many modern carpets and padding materials, while attractive and stain-resistant, are made with toxic adhesives, dyes and treatments. There are however, several options for low-toxicity carpets made with natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal and seagrass. They will have minimal (if any) off-gassing while giving you the look and cushion you want.
When it comes to being eco-friendly with your new flooring, there are many other things to consider beyond choosing the right flooring material. Where your flooring comes from, how your old flooring is disposed of and what happens during the installation are a few other things to keep in mind. At Genesis Flooring, we can help you choose and install any flooring material you choose, whether it’s bamboo flooring, carpet, hardwood or other material.
Contact us today if you have any questions or to request a free consultation.