Find Your Flooring

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Find Your Flooring

Installing flooring made from natural resources helps make the home as healthy as possible, reducing moisture and indoor air pollutants. And, of course, using eco-friendly materials underfoot helps the environment, too. Here is some information about two major flooring types: carpet and hardwood.

Carpet
• Consider purchasing carpet made of all-natural, biodegradable products, such as wool, hemp and jute. This is ideal for people with allergies or sensitivities to synthetics. For basement floors, it’s important to select a synthetic carpet with a synthetic backing and a pad that won’t absorb moisture.

• Another option for carpeting is to choose polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester. Made from recycled plastic bottles, PET polyester produces a beautiful, stain-resistant carpet. It is not as durable as nylon, however, although nylon is not as stain resistant.

• Homeowners with allergies often choose hardwood instead of carpeting, as most carpets trap dust and mites. However, carpet constructed with natural products can be as healthful as hardwood.

• Remember that unfortunately, carpet also might absorb water, which could lead to mold growth. To avoid this, consider covering sections of a tile floor with smaller, rubber-backed rugs with pads that are machine-washable.

• If you’re putting in carpet, choose natural materials with glues, binders and backing that don’t off-gas to maintain and improve high air quality.

Hardwood
• Consider applying water-based finishes. These have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), whereas oil finishes have much higher levels. In addition, adhesives with no VOCs are available for carpet and other flooring.

• Another flooring alternative is Lyptus. This is a sustainable product that comes from a tree that reaches maturity in 14 to 20 years and is a hybrid of two different species of eucalyptus, the Eucalyptus Grandis and Eucalyptus Arophylla. However, the tradeoff is it requires the usage of a large amount of fossil fuels to ship it from Uruguay or Brazil, where it usually originates.

• Wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is both green and sustainable. Using FSC-certified wood offers the assurance that the creation of a product has not contributed to the decimation of a forest but rather has been produced in a sustainable fashion.
 

Green Guidance

If a product is available within 500 miles of its destination, many environmental organizations would say that it qualifies as environmentally friendly. However, the fast growth of species, including bamboo, cork and Lyptus makes them renewable, mitigating the negative impact of the emissions of fossil fuels used for transport.

There are many options for green flooring materials. Substances that don’t off-gas, are made from waste products or that reuse items are preferable. These include rubber flooring, which is made from recycled tires.

Buyer beware: Although there are many green products on the market, many companies are marketing their items for sale as environmentally friendly, whether they are or not.

Challenging Choices

  • Laminated flooring, including glulams or glued laminated timber, is one product that may be considered green or not green, depending on which factors are noted. Flooring that is laminated reduces the number of trees that are felled and the amount of lumber that reaches the landfill, but cannot be recycled.
  • Bamboo is another questionable option. Although it can be thought of as green because it is durable and sustainable, it appears less environmentally friendly due to the energy used to manufacture and send bamboo to the location where it is installed.
  • Cork is another product that may be thought of as green if a major factor taken into consideration is sustainability. It comes from trees that may be harvested repeatedly over their lifetimes. However, in the U.S., it also has a large carbon footprint because of the distance from its point of origin overseas to its supply location locally.

 

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