The Home Know-It-All Eco-Friendly Flooring

The Home Know-It-All Eco-Friendly Flooring

January 29, 2008

Eco-Friendly Flooring

Thinking about replacing your worn carpet or redoing your kitchen floor? Before you run out and buy traditional flooring materials and opt for standard installation methods, consider the benefits of going green.

The flooring products you choose have an environmental impact, from the moment they start out as raw materials until they’re manufactured and shipped to your home—and beyond. Even after these flooring materials are installed, they continue to impact you—not just in regard to how they look and stand up to wear in your home, but also in how they affect air quality. In particular, installation of carpeting and other flooring materials releases loads of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can linger in your home (and harm the air you breathe as well as you and your family’s health) for years.

Fortunately, it seems like every day new flooring materials that are made with an eye toward the environment and your health hit the market. Then the challenge becomes figuring out which material is best for you—because, as terrific as selecting green flooring is, to really do it right involves a bit of work on your part.

Your best bet for reducing the environmental impact of your new flooring is to look for materials that originate from natural, renewable items such as bamboo, wood, and cork. But the search doesn’t end there. Next, consider how these materials were harvested (for instance, Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods come from sustainably managed forests—meaning biodiversity, air, and water quality are preserved). You also may wish to take into account how far the materials were shipped—in which case bamboo probably isn’t the best option for those of us in the United States, as it’s usually grown overseas.

Think ahead to when the flooring is installed in your home too. How well will the material wear? If odds are good you’ll have to replace your flooring after a few years because of heavy wear and tear, perhaps a more durable material such as concrete is a better option. And how much maintenance is required? Even if your flooring choice is sustainable, what good is it if you’re frequently refinishing or cleaning with toxic chemicals?

As you’re researching flooring options, watch out for greenwashing —be sure to look into the flooring supplier you’re considering to ensure that the claims it’s making are accurate and true.

Some of the most eco-friendly flooring options available today include linoleum (biodegradable and made of natural materials), concrete, cork (made from the bark of the cork tree, which is renewable), bamboo (also renewable, and requires few fertilizers and pesticides), wood (when it’s Forest Stewardship Council-certified, reclaimed, or recycled), and carpeting and rugs (if they’re made with natural or recycled fibers, not treated with chemicals, have natural fiber backing, and come with padding made from recycled materials), and recycled glass tile. Learn more about some of these products in the article Green Floors: Six Materials to Have Underfoot .

And while you’re at it, don’t forget that the glues used to install your flooring should be water-based and have little (or no) VOCs too.

Want to learn more? Green Home Guide offers 8 tips for selecting healthy and environmentally sound flooring. And while you’re there, check out the Buyer’s Guide to Green Flooring Materials and the directory of green flooring products. Oh heck, why not stay on the site even longer? The most in-depth information can be found in «Navigating the Flooring Thicket.»

Once you tear yourself away from the Green Home Guide site, this article from Co-Op America provides a rundown on common considerations, from the padding that goes under your carpet to more eco-friendly options should you choose to avoid carpeting altogether.

If you’re hunting for environmentally friendly flooring materials, check out Eco Friendly Flooring. a wholesale supplier of bamboo, cork, recycled glass tile, reclaimed wood, linoleum, and more. GreenFloors.com is another great source. And lots of larger flooring manufacturers are getting in on the eco-friendly act too—be sure to check out Rethink What’s Possible. a green flooring blog sponsored by DuPont, with contributors including environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo. There’s good info there, folks!

And the green doesn’t end here. Keep reading—I’ll share more details about eco-friendly products such as bamboo soon. And later this month, come along as we tour some eco-friendly houses and show you how to recycle those old flooring materials once you’re done with them. Can’t wait? Neither can I!

January 29, 2008

Eco-Friendly Flooring

Thinking about replacing your worn carpet or redoing your kitchen floor? Before you run out and buy traditional flooring materials and opt for standard installation methods, consider the benefits of going green.

The flooring products you choose have an environmental impact, from the moment they start out as raw materials until they’re manufactured and shipped to your home—and beyond. Even after these flooring materials are installed, they continue to impact you—not just in regard to how they look and stand up to wear in your home, but also in how they affect air quality. In particular, installation of carpeting and other flooring materials releases loads of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, which can linger in your home (and harm the air you breathe as well as you and your family’s health) for years.

Fortunately, it seems like every day new flooring materials that are made with an eye toward the environment and your health hit the market. Then the challenge becomes figuring out which material is best for you—because, as terrific as selecting green flooring is, to really do it right involves a bit of work on your part.

The Home Know-It-All Eco-Friendly Flooring

Your best bet for reducing the environmental impact of your new flooring is to look for materials that originate from natural, renewable items such as bamboo, wood, and cork. But the search doesn’t end there. Next, consider how these materials were harvested (for instance, Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods come from sustainably managed forests—meaning biodiversity, air, and water quality are preserved). You also may wish to take into account how far the materials were shipped—in which case bamboo probably isn’t the best option for those of us in the United States, as it’s usually grown overseas.

Think ahead to when the flooring is installed in your home too. How well will the material wear? If odds are good you’ll have to replace your flooring after a few years because of heavy wear and tear, perhaps a more durable material such as concrete is a better option. And how much maintenance is required? Even if your flooring choice is sustainable, what good is it if you’re frequently refinishing or cleaning with toxic chemicals?

As you’re researching flooring options, watch out for greenwashing —be sure to look into the flooring supplier you’re considering to ensure that the claims it’s making are accurate and true.

Some of the most eco-friendly flooring options available today include linoleum (biodegradable and made of natural materials), concrete, cork (made from the bark of the cork tree, which is renewable), bamboo (also renewable, and requires few fertilizers and pesticides), wood (when it’s Forest Stewardship Council-certified, reclaimed, or recycled), and carpeting and rugs (if they’re made with natural or recycled fibers, not treated with chemicals, have natural fiber backing, and come with padding made from recycled materials), and recycled glass tile. Learn more about some of these products in the article Green Floors: Six Materials to Have Underfoot .

And while you’re at it, don’t forget that the glues used to install your flooring should be water-based and have little (or no) VOCs too.

Want to learn more? Green Home Guide offers 8 tips for selecting healthy and environmentally sound flooring. And while you’re there, check out the Buyer’s Guide to Green Flooring Materials and the directory of green flooring products. Oh heck, why not stay on the site even longer? The most in-depth information can be found in «Navigating the Flooring Thicket.»

Once you tear yourself away from the Green Home Guide site, this article from Co-Op America provides a rundown on common considerations, from the padding that goes under your carpet to more eco-friendly options should you choose to avoid carpeting altogether.

If you’re hunting for environmentally friendly flooring materials, check out Eco Friendly Flooring. a wholesale supplier of bamboo, cork, recycled glass tile, reclaimed wood, linoleum, and more. GreenFloors.com is another great source. And lots of larger flooring manufacturers are getting in on the eco-friendly act too—be sure to check out Rethink What’s Possible. a green flooring blog sponsored by DuPont, with contributors including environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo. There’s good info there, folks!

And the green doesn’t end here. Keep reading—I’ll share more details about eco-friendly products such as bamboo soon. And later this month, come along as we tour some eco-friendly houses and show you how to recycle those old flooring materials once you’re done with them. Can’t wait? Neither can I!


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