Eco-Friendly Flooring Options

June 11, 2014

  Did you know that traditional flooring is not only harmful to the earth, but can also be harmful to your family's health? Synthetic fibers and materials are often coated in chemicals.  Let's focus on what natural materials are available as an alternative to traditionally unsustainable & synthetic flooring to ensure a healthy home and healthy planet. 

 

Cork: Cork is probably my favorite and currently in my kitchen and dining room. What's so great about cork flooring? Glad you asked - only everything! First, cork is naturally  resistance to temperature extremes, fire and fungi. Second, even though the cork is sealed when it goes in, it still retains a softness or give to it that lets it hold up against things like dog claws, falling objects, and can even muffle heavy-footed steps. I also love that it's not as cold as tile, but is just as easy to clean, and beautiful too. 

 

How is it sustainable? Cork is actually just the bark of a  Phellodendron   or Cork Tree from the Rutaceae family. So the bark can be harvested while the tree remains alive for hundreds of years, producing that gorgous clean oxygen. 

 

Info: 

 - It comes in a variety of colors (check out the photo in this post!)

 - The Greenbuildingcenter prices cork at about $7 / sqft

 - Quiet

 - Extremely durable

 

Bamboo: Bamboo is the next on my list because it provides the natural beauty and texture of a a traditional hardwood floor in feel and aesthetics, yet is harvested sustainably. Bamboo is actually a type of grass, but  is approximately as hard as red oak or hard maple. It comes in a few tones likes natural blond or a carmelized darker shade. The stalks are glued together either horizontally or vertically, which offer two completely different appearances.

 

How is it sustainable? The bamboo plant reaches maturity in 3 to 7 years, and It is actually beneficial to thin a mature bamboo plant by approximately a third of its poles every five to eight years. Doing so generally stimulates new growth rather than killing the plants. Also getting a certified product ensures your not buying anything that would have optherwise been panda snacks! 

 

Info: 

. - This member of the grass family produces hardwood fiber much more quickly than trees, making bamboo the ultimate rapidly renewable resource.

-  The primary drawback of bamboo flooring is the fact that the product is glued-up with urea-formaldehyde binders.

- Bamboo prices range from approximately $5 to $6.25 per square foot.

 

Marmoleum: Mar-what-now? So this is actually a brand name of a type of linoleum (kind of like how we say Klenex to indicate facial tissue) produced by the largest manufacterer, Forbo. Traditional linoleum has plenty of those awful fire retardant PBC's I mentioned earlier, and is synthetically made. However, this more "eco" version is typically made out of renewable and natural materials. Marmoleum is often used in hospitals for its hypoalergenic, anti-static and anti-microbial properties. 

 

How is it sustainable?  

This "eco" linoleum is made out of natural products including linseed oil, pigments and pine flour with a natural jute backing. 

 

Info: 

 It comes in sheet, tiles and click-lock floating floorformats that are all available in a varietyf hues and textures to create any look you can imagine.

- Is resistant to water and wearing

- Costs approximately $4.25 per square foot for tiles

 

All in all - do your research before letting your loved ones roll around on synthetic flooring compounds. I bet there are a few key spaces you could consider switching to a healthy alternative without breaking the bank.  

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