5 Eco-Friendly Floor Options

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on August 20th, 2010

Planning on installing a new floor? Nowadays, there are many choices that are both affordable and green. Here are some options to consider and why I’ve chosen them as my top five.

1. Bamboo

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant  on earth. It can be sustainably harvested every 5-7 years. Although considered a grass, it grows as a stalk and  has been used for centuries in many parts of the world. It  is now being grown commercially in North America. Because of it’s quick replenishing time, it’s an excellent  renewable resource. In fact, Bamboo is now one of the most popular floor choices. At prices ranging from $1.89 – $3.89 per square ft, it’s also an affordable one. You’ll love it’s silky, smooth finish!

Why I like it:

  • Durable – it’s 2x stronger than Oak!
  • Beautiful – there are many unique types of Bamboo offering a wide range of color, grain and application choices. Use it for flooring, cabinets, doors or countertops.
  • Renewable – it replenishes itself every 5-7 years.
  • Affordable – as the demand for quality Bamboo has increased, the price has decreased. I have seen the price as low as $1.89 per sq. ft.
  • Easy Maintenance – no wax floor!

2. Cork

Cork is the ultimate green flooring material and is becoming increasingly more popular these days. A completely renewable resource, cork is harvested from the bark of  living cork oak tress. That means, the tree is never killed to harvest the cork. It has many properties that make it an excellent choice for your home including: a variety of sizes, patterns,colors and applications.

Why I like it:

  • 100% Renewable
  • Healthy For You- it’s naturally hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and anti-fungal which means it’s mildew resistant. A plus for anyone living with allergies or in a damp climate!
  • Insulates Well- keeps your feet warm in winter and cool in summer!
  • Sound Absorbent – muffles sound so it works great in an apartment or condo setting.
  • Easy Installation – can be installed directly over existing floors, concrete slabs or plywood subfloors.
  • Absorbs Shock – it’s easy on the body!
  • Affordable – From $1.49 to $3.49 per sq. ft.
  • Naturally Fire Resistant
  • Low Maintenance

3. Sustainably Harvested &

Reclaimed Lumber

Sustainably harvested wood is extracted from forests in a way that is ecologically sound, and both socially and economically beneficial to the communities in which these forests exist. These managed forests are careful in their harvesting practices, helping to contribute to the preservation of these beautiful forests. This type of wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Reclaimed lumber comes from many sources such as, antique wood from the de-construction of old structures like barns, mills and houses; beams, timbers, wine barrels and box cars. The wood is typically oak, fir or pine. Praised for it’s strength, versatility, rich colors and unique characteristics, reclaimed lumber is a favorite among builders and homeowners alike.

Why I like it:

  • Durable
  • Warm, Rich Colors- there’s a variety of colors from white oak to deep cherry.
  • Unique Appearance- each wood produces it’s own unique and interesting grain.
  • Follows the 3 R’s of Green Decorating- Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose.
  • Multi-Purpose- floors, counter tops, furniture, doors and more!

4. Marmoleum

Marmoleum is a brand name for Linoleum. It’s made by combining natural materials such as linseed oil or pine rosin with wood flour or cork dust.  Free of  VOC’s or other toxic chemicals, it’s a great non-toxic flooring option, especially for those with asthma or allergies. Marmoleum comes in sheets, which can be installed with a solvent free adhesive, or as a square click which doesn’t need any adhesive. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and sizes allowing you many design options.

Why I Like it:

  • No off-gassing (off -gassing comes from volatile organic compounds and toxic chemicals such as urea formaldehyde found in vinyl, adhesives, paint, carpet and particle board.)
  • Durable- as the linseed oil oxidizes, the floor becomes harder and more durable.
  • Anti-Static Properties – this means dirt & dust don’t stick, so there’s less cleaning for you!
  • Anti-Bacterial
  • Endless Design Possibilities
  • 100% Natural Ingredients & 100% Biodegradable

5. Recycled Glass Tile / Terrazzo

Recycled glass tiles and Terrazzo are both beautiful materials that can be used to create a stunning look (it’s great for counter tops too!). Both are excellent environmentally friendly flooring options that re-purpose what would otherwise be thrown in a landfill.  These tiles are fast becoming the choice for homeowners. Both have high durability, ease of maintenance and a beautiful look!

Recycled glass uses discarded glass bottles that are turned into beautiful recycled glass tiles. Custom looks can be created to fit you’re personal style.

Terrazzo, a centuries old art, mixes bits of broken glass with pieces of marble, granite, ceramic &  porcelain from such sources as discarded sinks and toilets. The bits are then mixed with cement to create beautiful, unique tiles. Found in many commercial settings, like libraries and government buildings, it’s now an affordable option for homeowners.

Why I like it:

  • Follows the 3 R’s of Green Decorating- Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose
  • Multi Purpose – floors, counter tops, backsplash, bathrooms.
  • Frees Up Landfills- since we’re running out of space for our trash, this is a good thing!
  • Huge Color Choice- tile design is practically limitless. Let it jump starts your imagination!
  • Non-Absorptive-they don’t hold water or stains.
  • Beautiful, and allows for creativity

All of these materials are beautiful and a great choice  for you and the planet. Whichever material you choose, make sure  the company you buy from explains the contents of the product. If it’s wood or Bamboo, make sure it’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and that it doesn’t contain any added urea formaldehyde, a toxin you don’t want to breathe! Also, be aware that labeling can be tricky. Labeling  something recycled doesn’t mean it’s 100% recycled. Read the contents and ask questions. The better informed you, the better choice you can make!

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One Response to “5 Eco-Friendly Floor Options”

  1. Nancy says:

    Great job! Very informative, I had no idea there were so many cool green choices!

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