The floor’s the thing…
Whether you’re starting from scratch or remodeling an existing house, making greener choices in building materials helps ensure your home will be eco-friendly from the ground up. One notoriously tricky spot is flooring. Floors need to be durable, livable and attractive. Requiring that they also be sustainable makes it a tall order, but fortunately, there are options out there!
Sustainable options range from reclaimed materials, to using clean, renewable sources. Take a look at just a few of the stylish, and sustainable, flooring options currently on the market and decide which fits your style, life and budget.
Bamboo flooring is possibly the best known alternative to hardwood. Bamboo is a sustainable, renewable product that is naturally termite free and crack resistant. It’s also stronger than any of the more traditional hardwood flooring options. One caveat, make sure you choose a flooring that was manufactured in an environmentally friendly way and then use love VOC adhesives during installation.
Recycled Carpet Tiles
What do you get when you grind up old carpets and create large squares of new carpet? And environmentally friendly alternative to carpeting called recycled carpet tiles. These tiles come I a wide range of colors and sizes, and are a great way to keep old carpets out of the landfills. Make sure your adhesives and backings are low-VOC and meet your green standards.
Recycled Terrazzo Tiles
Terrazzo tile can be extremely striking, is easy to clean and very durable. The tiles are made from chips of glass, stone, concrete or tile and come in a wide range of styles and colors. Something to be aware of, at this time, there are very few low-VOC options in terrazzo tiles.
Salvaged wood is the ultimate in green flooring. Salvaged from old buildings and houses, reclaimed wood can be more expensive than traditional hardwood, it is environmentally responsible and will give you a completely unique floor with a strong element of history.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area with access to a salvage shop, cobblestone is a great option for smaller areas like bathrooms, walkways and courtyards. Cobblestone floors are unique and add an element of history. Green bonus points: they keep materials out of the landfill.
Cork is another sustainable, renewable resource that has recently come into its own in the flooring world. Cork floors are cushiony, available in a wide range of colors and are super easy to maintain. Cork can be susceptible to dents and gouges, so be aware of that when considering it for rooms with heavy furniture or high traffic. Cork does need to be sealed, so be sure to choose a low-VOC sealant.
These are just a few of the greener options available for flooring. Each has its strong points, as well as its weak ones. Aside from environmental impact, the biggest advantage of all of these is the unique qualities they bring to your space. All of these options are as versatile as they are attractive. It’s also possible to mix and match natural elements to provide exactly the look and feel that you want in your home.