Trade Resources Industry Knowledge Five Greenest Flooring Options We've Identified at ServiceMagic

Five Greenest Flooring Options We've Identified at ServiceMagic

Green flooring options are becoming more and more popular each year. Flooring manufacturers have, understandably, taken a two-pronged approach to green flooring options, developing new products and more aggressively marketing current flooring materials that homeowners under-appreciate for their eco-friendly qualities. What follows are the five greenest flooring options we've identified at ServiceMagic. Use these options to brainstorm ideas for your next flooring installation but also as a cumulative snapshot of what exactly makes a floor green.

5. Bamboo

When Better Homes and Gardens "wanted our test kitchens to look, feel, and perform like the very best kitchen any of us could imagine for our own home," bamboo was chosen as the green flooring option of choice. High quality bamboo flooring is every bit as hard as Oak or Maple (which makes it significantly harder than Pine) and its look is as unique as it is beautiful. Unlike traditional hardwood trees (some of which need to grow for 50 to 100 years before they are harvested), bamboo can be harvested after only 5 or 6 years, which makes it one of the greenest flooring options on the market.

4. Cork

While utilized by such big names in architecture as Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, historically, cork has been far better known as the plug in a wine bottle than as a building material. Today, however, cork flooring is quickly gaining popularity because of its eco-friendliness. Since it is made from the regenerative bark of the cork tree rather than the wood, the tree itself can continue to live and produce more cork after the material for the floor has been harvested. Cork floors are also a hypoallergenic and insulate material.

3. Sustainably Harvested Hardwood

What makes hardwood harvesting "sustainable"? According to the Forest Stewardship Council (FCS), to become certified sustainable "the forests have to be managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural, and spiritual needs of present and future generations." We won't go into the "10 principals and 56 criteria" that companies have to comply with to wear the FCS stamp, but rest assured, they are stringent. By purchasing wood products with the FCS label, you are purchasing wood that has been harvested in the most environmentally (and socially) friendly way possible.

2. Reclaimed Lumber

Since it requires the harvesting of no living things and comparatively little manufacturing, "reclaimed wood, which is recovered from old factory buildings, barns, warehouses, and other structures that are no longer used" is the greenest flooring option on the market in terms of new flooring. However, while reclaimed wood is the Denver Green Living Examiner's choice for "most eco-friendly of all wood flooring options" (and ours as well), it is still not the greenest option available for your floors.

 Install New Flooring

1. Keep the Floor You Already Have!

The undeniable winner for green flooring options is to make due with what you've already got. Of course, if you're dealing with 20 year-old carpet that is as smelly as it is unattractive, any of the above options will be a fine and eco-friendly investment. However, if you already have flooring that can be resurfaced, refinished, or re-stretched, the "green" thing to do (and the less expensive, too) is to leave that flooring in place and spend your money on making it better. Plus, staying with your current floor is a viable option in more circumstances than people commonly realize. Unless your wood flooring is in an advanced state of deterioration, it can be refinished. Isolated carpet damage can be repaired completely and seamlessly for a fraction of the cost of replacement. The same goes for laminate flooring. And, if nothing else, many homes have concrete subflooring in good enough condition to be stained or resurfaced into any number of visually stunning effects.

Other Tips for Green Flooring Options

For those who don't have the option of keeping their existing floors, it is a good idea to ask your contractor where they plan on dumping the old flooring. In the case of carpet, you may be able to have it sent to the recycling plant instead of a landfill simply by requesting it!

Consider not just the environmental impact of installation, but long-term maintenance as well. What type of sealant is used for your tile? Does it need additional applications in future years?

Support your local businesses to keep things green. It doesn't matter how green bamboo is, if it has to be transported thousands of miles. Wood flooring that's being shipped from a nearby location will cut energy consumption associated with delivery of materials. Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.

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5 Greenest Flooring Options
Topics: Construction