Since the invention of inexpensive floor products like linoleum, carpet, vinyl and parquet changing the flooring in a home has been a popular renovation, one that can add to or change the whole ambience of a home. In fact laying a new vinyl floor can cost less than hiring a painter to change the wall color in the same room. And carpet can cost even less.
Volatile Organic Compounds
The problem with vinyl and carpet is that both are made in processes that produces toxic gases called VOC's, or volatile organic compounds. Not only that these gases can stay with the carpet long after the flooring has been installed. Although not lethal they can cause problems with people with allergies or environmental diseases. The other problem is the disposal of old products that are removed from the home. Many thousands of tons of vinyl products are dumped in landfills every year shortening the lifespan of the landfills as they fill up many years more quickly with the added bulk.
Sustainable Flooring Products
One of the ways that the flooring industry has responded to the environmental concerns is by searching for new materials that do not involve clear-cutting forests either at home or abroad. Not only that, to be classed as "completely sustainable" a product cannot be shipped from across the ocean because this requires the burning of fossil fuels.
1. Native Wood
Oak and maple are very popular American wood species but stocks have dwindled because of the wholesale cutting of forests. During the past twenty years a new and sustainable industry has grown up whereby hardwood and softwood harvesting is closely regulated and selected logging is practiced. Check the labels to see which wood product falls under this category.
One of the fastest-growing trends in sustainable flooring is also a fast-growing product. Sold as a hardwood product bamboo is actually a grass that grows in warm climates. Not only is it as hard as some oak products bamboo has a natural anti-bacterial agent and is water-resistant. Although more expensive than vinyl or laminate bamboo products can be cheaper than hardwood. It can be installed in planks like regular hardwood or made into strips that can be glued to snapped together.
Unlike hardwood, which can take twenty years to mature for harvesting bamboo can be cut in tow to three years and replanted again. However, not all bamboo is grown in environmentally-friendly situations so check the labels.
The material used in stopper in a bottle of wine ca also be made into an amazing floor covering. Cork, a tree bark, comes in hundreds of colors and textures that make a beautiful, durable floor. The best thing about cork is that the tree is never sacrificed to harvest the bark. Every ten to twelve years the bark is stripped from the tree to expose a new tree trunk covering. The old bark is then processed into engineered flooring that can be glued or snapped together.
4. Wool Carpet
One of the oldest flooring materials known to man is wool. Nomadic tribes used wool as a floor covering and it was also used to take the chill out of medieval castles. Although twice as expensive as most flooring covering products wool has many qualities that surpass those of its man-made rivals. Wool resists stains, has natural water repelling agents and wool carpets are manufactured in the country. Most wool carpet employs no dyes and use natural backing and adhesives.
Once the standard of the flooring industry linoleum use faded with the advent of vinyl flooring. It is made from linseed oil, a completely natural product, and is still in high demand. Linoleum flooring does not fade and it is anti-static. Not only that it naturally repels dirt and other small particles making it safe for people with respiratory issues like asthma and other allergies. Not only that it is also fire-resistant.
6. Recycled Leather
The automotive industry makes millions of cars every year and many of these have leather interiors. A process uses the leather seat covers from junked vehicles to make flooring and wall-covering products. The leather is ground up and, using natural glues and fillers, is made into flooring tiles. The result is a one-of-a-kind, completely natural floor with rich textures.
7. Natural Fibers
Jute, hemp and other fibers have been used to make flooring products for thousands of years. Carpets made from these grasses are unique and very durable. As new crops can be re-grown annually these products are very sustainable.
6. Ceramic Tile and Natural Rock Flooring
Like wool and natural grasses clay-based tiles and natural rock have been around for thousands of years. Naturally formed from materials that are endless in supply the only drawback in getting a completely sustainable rating is the cost of transportation. Most of the best ceramic tile and rock come from countries like Italy, Turkey and India however local rock and tile products have made inroads.
For more information on sustainable flooring products consult our Contractor Directory or simply post your project online.Posted by: kim