All About Floors About Environmentally friendly flooring

All About Floors About Environmentally friendly flooring

All About Floors

Antique Flooring – is it over-priced?

If you use carpets it can be a long time between the times when you check the condition of the hardwood floor boards underneath. In this time great damage can be done by such things as moisture and mold. It can be that you will need to replace one of your hardwood flooring boards.

It is possible at this point to choose new hardwood flooring as a replacement. The look will be different from the rest of the flooring but if you re-lay the carpet nobody will notice. If, however, you want the replacement board to look the same as the other boards you will have to buy antique hardwood flooring.

There are now companies that perform this service. They ascertain the age and type of flooring that you have. They then source hardwood flooring that is from the same period and has the same characteristics. They will even find a finish that is the same as the existing finish so that the replaced board looks just like the rest of the flooring. This is a specialized service and probably means that you will have to pay fairly dearly for a small amount of antique hardwood flooring.

This is fair enough. However, if you want to buy antique flooring for your house you can be surprised to discover that it costs in some cases more than new hardwood flooring. This seems strange to say the least. The idea of reclaimed hardwood flooring and antique flooring is that it is meant to be a green alternative to using new hardwood flooring. Why should you pay more for second-hand flooring?

Frankly many small and medium size suppliers of antique flooring simply over-charge. They pick up flooring at a discount price get it kiln dried and then offer it for sale at grossly inflated prices. This is taking advantage of people who want to be earth friendly.

Before you buy antique flooring, it is worth checking how rare the hardwood is. Some hardwoods cannot be bought new and so the antique version has a premium value. If that is not the case and you feel that the antique flooring is too much then approach other suppliers.

Finally, if you feel there is a monopoly of bad value going on then look to another type of sustainable flooring such as cork, bamboo or coconut. By over-paying for antique hardwood flooring people are damaging the environment as it means it will remain a flooring type that is for only for the rich. The truth is that new hardwood flooring should cost the most. The rich should be penalized for chopping down the forests. The rest who want to help should be encouraged to buy reclaimed and antique hardwood by attractive prices.

Under floor heating and sustainable flooring

Under floor heating (UFH) is a very old idea that goes back to the Romans. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to under floor heating. This post will look at these pros and cons and discuss whether sustainable flooring can be used with under floor heating.

There are 2 basic types of under floor heating: using electrical cables and using pipes of hot water. Both perform equally well.

The main advantage with under floor heating is that it makes the floor comfortable and inviting. Under floor heating radiates heat and so fills the room with heat evenly from the floor up. Radiators give off convective heat and so a room fills up top down. Also using under floor heating removes all the radiators from a room and hides the ‘equipment’. Removing the radiators from a room makes it easier to keep the space dust free and also provides more space.

Another advantage of under floor heating is that it uses hot water at 50 degrees Celsius instead of the usual 60 degrees Celsius of a hot water system using radiators. This is good for heat pumps and solar heated water which sometimes struggles to get the water hot enough for standard hot water systems.

The disadvantage of under floor heating is that it can take an hour for a room to heat up. The room retains the heat for longer. This partly depends on what flooring is used.  Concrete flooring such as polished screed will retain heat for several hours.

The other disadvantage of under floor heating is that is subjects the flooring to lots of heat; the flooring becomes a medium for the heat. The flooring therefore has to be very stable. With flooring made from natural materials there is always a problem of warping and shrinking as the moisture is removed from the material.

Under floor heating with strand woven bamboo flooring

It is possible to use under floor heating with strand woven bamboo flooring. Cross ply high density strand woven bamboo flooring is recommended. It has to be very dense and hard bamboo.

Under floor heating with reclaimed hardwood flooring

UFH heating is popular with hardwood flooring in the United States. The same rules for installing reclaimed hardwood flooring over UFH apply as for hardwood flooring over UFH. The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) provides guidelines that are widely followed. If the wood is prepared correctly real wood planks are better than engineered flooring. The key to using reclaimed hardwood flooring over under floor heating is to thoroughly and slowly kiln dry the reclaimed hardwood and then to cut the flooring using advanced laser technology to guarantee an exact fit.

The fact that reclaimed hardwood flooring is more dimensionally stable than hardwood flooring made from new hardwood makes it better for UFH.

Under floor heating and cork flooring

Cork is a very good heat and sound insulator. The insulating properties of cork flooring mean that it is necessary to use cork flooring less than 10 mm thickness with under floor heating. Cork is composed of millions of air pockets that trap heat. Thus cork flooring is slow to release heat and will delay the effectiveness of UFH to warm a room.

Under floor heating and coconut flooring

Eco Palm Flooring sell coconut flooring that can be laid over under floor heating. As with reclaimed hardwood flooring it is important to use coconut timber that has been carefully kiln dried and that is cut accurately.

It is normal for each room with under floor heating to have its own controller system. This increases the price for UFH compared to other types of heating. Also it is a skilled job to put in under floor heating. It is recommended to use professionals rather than to DIY under floor heating and to insist on a company that is going to use the best specifications and most suitable flooring.

Reclaimed Structural Hardwood for flooring

Major Source of Reclaimed Hardwood

One of the major sources for hardwood to make reclaimed hardwood flooring is from buildings that are torn down or have major re-fitting. Either job produces a lot of unwanted hardwood. This wood can be reused; it is called reclaimed structural hardwood .

Types of Reclaimed Structural Hardwood

The wood can be used for a number of uses in a house and the previous function largely determines the type of markings that you can expect to find on the hardwood. For example wood that was used under rafters (purlins) tends to have nail, screw or bolt holes where the wood was attached. This will show up when it is made into reclaimed hardwood flooring.

Hardwood that was used as floor joists has marks at the edges where it was attached. Wood formerly used for truss chords has bolt holes, notches and mortice join holes. Ridge boards make hardwood flooring that has nail holes along the surface where rafters were formerly attached.

Backsawn vs. Quartersawn

Moreover, hardwood used in the building of a house is backsawn rather than quartersawn. This can cause gum lines and discoloration. Quartersawn hardwood has a more uniform look and far less markings.

It is worth doing due diligence before committing to buying reclaimed hardwood flooring to make sure you know where the wood came from. This will give you many clues about the markings to expect on the wood.

The Ecology of Cork

The cork oak (quercus suber) is grown nearly exclusively in the Mediterranean countries of Spain, Portugal, Italy, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and France. It is the combination of the soil, the heat and the lack of humidity that makes the cork oak flourish in this part of the world.

It is believed that there are about 25,000 hectares of cork oak forests in the Mediterranean area. It is a resource that has been valued for a long time. The ancient Egyptians used cork as stoppers. The Greeks used cork for fishing buoys. The ancient Romans used cork for roofing and womens shoes.

Cork in Portugal

Such was the importance of cork to the economy of Portugal (the worlds biggest producer of cork) that all cork oak trees were protected by Royal Edict. If you were caught chopping down a cork oak you were liable for severe punishment.

The Portuguese government is now more lenient on those who harm a cork oak tree, but environmentalists are now the keenest to see the preservation of these ancient forests.

Cork Oak Forests

The great thing about cork as a resource is that it can be harvested without destroying natural habitat. Thus, cork oak forests can be economically used without damaging the wild life. That is if the cork is harvested correctly with minimum disturbance to the forest.

The reason for the concern for the cork oak forests is that they are the natural habitat of a number of species including the endangeredIberian lynx and the Barbary ape .

Tread Carefully

As long as we tread carefully we can have the best of both worlds a useful resource as well as trees that maintain biodiversity and help to recycle carbon from the atmosphere.

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