Flooring

 

 
 
 
 
 

Tile

Tiles make durable and attractive flooring that's easy to install and doesn't come with a learning curve like some green products. Look for local, then regional, and finally domestic sources. The best and greenest way to install tile is in conventional thickset mortar. The floor will last longer, will be less likely to crack, and has the lowest toxicity.

Linoleum

Many people confuse sheet vinyl flooring with "linoleum", as natural mistake. Linoleum makes a better choice than vinyl because it's manufactured with less toxic materials.  Because linoleum does not have the same protective surface, it must be polished occasionally resist stains. Be prepared for an odor from the linseed oil that off-gases an aldehyde, which is not toxic for most people and will dissipate.

Vinyl should be avoided as plasticizers called phthalates used to make PVC soft are a health hazard.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource and also a durable flooring choice. It comes in two grain patterns - flat sawn or vertical grain - and typically with either a blond or caramelized finish.

There are a variety of bamboo but only a few are appropriate for flooring. Of those few, some are better than others in dry climates. Go with a company like Plyboo or Timbergrass, a supplier that has been in the business for over a decade and offers high-quality flooring.

Cork

Cork is beautiful and has natural anti-bacterial qualities, is soft underfoot, is made from recycled materials, and comes from a renewable source. It's typically made from the waste cork left over after bottle stoppers are manufactured. The only downside is that cork trees grow only in a limited geographical area in the Mediterranean. So, it is a limited resource for the future.

Wood Flooring

Available in solid wood and as engineered, prefinished varieties, FSC-certified flooring is available across the country. Be aware that some certified engineered flooring contains urea-formaldehyde as the internal adhesive with only the wear layer (4 mils to 6 mils thick) actually made of certified materials. Other brands, however, are made with formaldehyde-free adhesives and are definitely preferable.

Green Flooring

There is a wide variety of green flooring in the market place today. What makes flooring green:

• Durability

• Non-toxicity

• Renewable sourcing

• Transportation

The challenge is to determine which of these qualities are most important and how they reflect aesthetically. No product has everything so it often amounts to comparing apples to oranges and making what seems like the best choice.

Reclaimed Flooring

Reclaimed flooring is available locally and through various sources nationally. Vast quantities of old-growth lumber can be found in old warehouse, building, bridges and other structures. Reclaimed wood provides the benefits of old-growth timber without the
environmental costs. Another source of wood products is local
lumberyards that reclaim urban forests when trees die or are
cut down to build new homes and businesses.

Finished Concrete Floors

When used as the finish floor, concrete containing high fly-ash content serves several purposes:

• It saves the expense of installing wood, carpet or other flooring

• Make us of an industrial by-product

• Does not harbor allergens, dust and mold, like carpet

The trick is to look for an experienced installer, not necessarily someone who specializes in sidewalks and driveways and is trying to learn something new.