Are Concrete and Stone Floors Eco Friendly

Are Concrete and Stone Floors Eco Friendly

Are Concrete and Stone Floors Eco Friendly?

by Clare Delaney

Concrete and Stone Floors Can they ever be Green?

In this series of articles, I look at the different types of flooring available to home owners, and identify which options are the most eco friendly for you, in your situation, in your location.  You can see the other flooring options here .

Concrete is an increasingly popular flooring type, recognised for its relatively low cost and aesthetic appeal.  It is very durable, and can be coloured and even made to mimic the look of marble or tiles.

Concrete absorbs daytime heat, feeling cool to the touch, then releases it at night if the temperature drops.

Concrete is made from sand, gravel or crushed stone, water, and often small amounts of various chemicals.  If these materials are found locally then there’s little transportation involved.

However, the raw materials are not renewable, and often are collected in ways that are not eco friendly.  Much, much worse is the manufacturing process for cement – the materials are heated to 1450C or 2642F and this process uses huge amounts of energy and emits carbon dioxide into the air.  (If you’ve ever passed a cement factory, you’ll have seen it belching).

Alternatives have been used in Europe and are gaining popularity in the USA.  Fly-ash concrete is made with fly-ash which is a by-product of coal-burning power plants and used to be sent to landfills.  It’s much less polluting than traditional concrete, but it contains a type of chlorine which may have health issues.  Slag is another waste product which would normally end up in landfill but can be used to make concrete.

Traditional concrete then, is not an eco friendly flooring material.

Stone flooring is also not particularly eco friendly – even though it’s marketed as “natural”.  However, there are ways of making it more so.

Take marble for instance.  It needs to be mined (it’s often located in the belly of a mountain), and then it needs to be transported to factory for refining, and then to you.  Marble is extremely heavy, so transporting it is bad for the environment.  So unless marble is mined locally to your home, then marble is definitely not an eco friendly option for your home.

The same applies to all types of stone flooring.  It’s often mined using non-eco methods, and it’s not a renewable resource.  It’s very heavy to transport.  You can help to offset this if you use stone which is very local to your home.

As well as using only local stone, you can also improve its ‘eco cred’ by buying stone which has a high percentage of recycled material.

Are Concrete and Stone Floors Eco Friendly

Terrazzo flooring uses cement for its base and so is not eco friendly, however, the ‘pieces’ that make up terrazzo may be made from recycled marble or stone, so you can make a more eco friendly choice by insisting on a high percentage of recycled materials.

Some stone flooring is made of agglomerates. which are manufactured by binding natural stone chips in cement, epoxy resin or polyester.   So it is similar to terrazzo in terms of eco cred.

Neither concrete nor stone would be my flooring of choice from an eco friendly point of view.

Related Articles :

Bamboo Flooring is it REALLY eco friendly?

Are wood, cork and lino eco friendly flooring options?

The eco friendly bathroom

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