If you're remodeling your home, or building your dream home from scratch (lucky you!), installing a brand new floor might be on your list. There are many materials to choose from, each with different pros, cons, and looks. If you are trying to live green (make environmentally friendly remodeling choices), you may want to consider an eco-friendly flooring material. There are quite a few options out there, so let's take a look:
You're familiar with the cork you find stopping up wine bottles, of course, but you may never have walked on a cork floor. It's the same material, just formed into tiles or planks and stuck down on the sub-floor. Since it is lightweight, installation is fairly painless.
Cork is considered eco-friendly because it's harvested from sustainable resources. It comes from the bark of the cork oak tree (which can be collected without harming the tree itself).
Cork's unique look makes it a fun floor choice, but there are practical reasons for choosing it as well. It acts as an insulator, absorbing sound and softening impacts (for instance, if you lay cork in the kitchen, a dropped dish probably won't break). It's also an easier material to stand on for long periods than floors made from ceramic tiles, stone, etc.
Reclaimed Hardwood Floors
If you love the look of hardwoods (who doesn't?) but can't reconcile yourself to having trees cut down just so you can get a new living room floor, there may still be a way for you to get the floor of your dreams. Think reclaimed wood.
Reclaimed hardwood floors are made with timbers recycled from old structures, such as dilapidated barns, schoolhouses, libraries, etc. There are a number of companies who buy the wood that would otherwise end up in a junkyard and refinish it to create planks suitable for residential floors. So basically you can a new hardwood floor without any new trees being cut down.
If you're wondering if these reused boards are structurally sound, they are. In fact, many people tout them as superior to the planks made from today's trees. The wood used in these older buildings came from old-growth forests, from older first generation trees; on the other hand, today's hardwood floors are made from wood harvested from tree farms, where the trees never truly reach maturity before being cut down.
Have a floor made from reclaimed wood and you'll be getting quality, character, and history in one swoop.
Bamboo is another flooring material that is catching on in popularity. It is considered eco-friendly because bamboo is a fast-growing grass, rather than a tree, and farms can grow a shoot to maturity in just a few years.
Though bamboo is somewhat similar to hardwood floors, it has a distinct look, and some people prefer that uniqueness to hardwoods. It is a sturdy, durable material and will last just as long as wood. Though there aren't as many varieties as there are species of wood, different finishes can create different looks for you to choose from.
The three flooring materials we have discussed—bamboo, hardwoods, and cork--are all considered eco-friendly. As an added bonus, they are all relatively easy to maintain. No vacuum cleaner required here! They are also good choices for allergy sufferers. With bamboo, hardwoods, and cork, there is no place for pet dander, pollens, mold, mildew, dust, etc. to hide. Compare this to the nooks and crannies you get with carpets, and you'll see why more and more people are choosing these other materials.