The demand for eco-friendly flooring solutions has soared in the past few years. Advances in technology mean that anything environmentally friendly doesn’t have to look bland or drab. Instead, manufacturers have made many attractive options available for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint. What does it mean to have eco-friendly flooring, though? Generally, eco-friendly floors can be recycled, renewed, and easily maintained. They have long life cycles and are responsibly manufactured. These criteria go a long way in ensuring your floors are better for the environment.
If you want to go green in your home, flooring is a huge part of that. Better yet, it’s easy to do. There are tons of options on the market right now, from stone to bamboo and wool. For renovations or entirely new homes, eco-friendly flooring is a great way to be greener in your everyday life. Read through to learn more about eco-friendly flooring solutions that are available for your space. With a bit more information in hand, you’ll be able to decide which of these options could be best for your home.
Cork flooring comes from the bark of the cork tree, which grows in the Mediterranean region and Northwest Africa. Cork is renewable because it can be harvested from living trees, which will keep producing cork for many years. Cork is also biodegradable and will break down once it’s reached the end of its lifecycle. This makes it better for the environment than using wood from old-growth forests or laminate wood flooring.
The pros to using cork flooring, beyond its low environmental impact, are that it provides a soft cushioned surface, it’s a good insulator, it’s hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, and it can be easy to install yourself. There are a few cons when using cork flooring, though. It’s susceptible to damage, especially from high humidity or flooding. However, if the cork is installed correctly and the sealant is renewed often enough, cork flooring can be a great option.
Bamboo flooring is another popular, eco-friendly flooring solution. Bamboo, like cork, is easy to harvest and considered renewable since it is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world. The harvest cycle for bamboo is 3-5 years. Bamboo is technically grass, rather than a tree, but this doesn’t take away from its use as a potential flooring option.
Beyond the sustainability aspect, bamboo is popular because it can be as durable and solid as traditional hardwood floors. A quality bamboo floor will last for decades if taken care of properly. Also like hardwood, bamboo floors experience some of the same drawbacks. It can scratch or crack if exposed to major swings in humidity.
Bamboo floors can also be engineered to look exactly like other types of wood, such as cherry or maple. Bamboo flooring can be stained, and there are different types available, from premium brands to more budget-friendly options. There have been great strides made in the last few years when it comes to bamboo, and there are many different options on the market. No matter what your taste in home decor aesthetics might be, bamboo has something for everyone.
When considering different types of eco-friendly flooring, you might have a running list of benefits, pros, and cons. Aesthetics might be top of the list for some, while energy efficiency is the top consideration for others. Wool carpets are an energy-efficient flooring option, with many other benefits. If you’re looking to cut down on heating and cooling costs this year, look into wool carpets and how they can be a great addition to your home.
Wool is a natural, replenishable, and sustainable fiber. Most of us wear wool in our sweaters, but it’s also used for carpets. Sheep grow new coats every year, so using wool is a sustainable way to outfit your home. Wool is hypoallergenic and great for people with asthma – the long fibers mean that it won’t be inhaled. Wool carpets last for decades longer than synthetic carpets, so you won’t have to replace your flooring very often. Wool is easy to care for and completely non-toxic – we love this flooring solution for anyone who wants the cushion and comfort that carpeting provides.
Glass tile might first call countertops and bathrooms to mind, but it can also be used as your main flooring option. Glass tile is elegant and aesthetically pleasing, with many different color and pattern choices. There are tons of sizes and glass tile floors are completely customizable.
Glass tile is environmentally friendly because it takes about half the energy to produce glass tile as it takes to produce ceramic tiles. You can also opt for recycled glass tiles in your home, which cuts down on carbon use even more. Glass tiles, when made and installed correctly, are very durable. You shouldn’t need to replace them for many years.
However, glass tiles can be quite expensive to purchase and install. It takes special attention and lots of experience to lay glass tiles perfectly. You should hire professionals for this installation, which adds to the costs. While beautiful and eco-friendly, glass tiles aren’t for everyone.
Hardwood is a supremely popular flooring option, with good reason. Hardwood floors are attractive, long-lasting, and easy to care for. Yet the harvesting of old-growth forests makes hardwood flooring unsustainable. The trees used to make hardwood floors take a while to grow to full maturity, so cutting them down becomes a major loss to forests and ecosystems.
If you want to have the benefits of hardwood floors without the environmental cost, consider putting reclaimed hardwood in your home.
Reclaimed hardwood is hard to find, as not many major manufacturers have the incentive to produce and distribute reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is also, by definition, imperfect. This makes it more difficult to sell to a wide audience when compared to new hardwood. If you can find a great manufacturer and distributor of reclaimed hardwood, you’ll have a good option for an eco-friendly floor that has a lot of character.
If you like the idea of tile for your home’s floors, using natural stone tile is a wonderful option. Limestone, quartz, slate, and marble are all really great, natural options for an eco-friendly home. Especially for people who prefer nontoxic options, stone fits the bill. The only processing needed for stone is cutting it into slabs. Otherwise, it comes straight from the earth.
Stone tile looks timeless and elegant, and it will last for years and years. The natural texture of the stone is rustic and less slippery than other options. While stone might be more difficult to clean than other flooring types, learning more about the use of natural stone in the home is a good way to maintain and care for stone tiles.
If wool carpet didn’t seem like your vibe, you might consider eco-friendly carpet for your home. Made from plant-based materials, eco-friendly carpet isn’t made with petroleum-based fibers. Most conventional carpets are made with synthetic materials and tons of chemicals. Eco-friendly carpets are made with either recycled materials or plant-based fibers, like seagrass. This goes a long way in reducing your carbon footprint and inhibiting the release of harmful chemicals in your home.
Unlike wool carpeting, eco-friendly carpet is much cheaper to purchase and install. Recycled carpets cost much less to produce and buy, so this is a budget-friendly option as well.
Concrete flooring is a great option for people who want to be environmentally friendly and live in a warm climate. Concrete doesn’t deplete natural resources since it’s made with cement, air, water, gravel, and sand.
Concrete floors are naturally cool and this can be great for warm summer days. If you live in a colder climate and are still interested in concrete flooring, there’s an option to add radiant heat underneath. This will make your concrete floors as cozy as traditional hardwood.
Concrete can also be stained, etched, and dyed to suit your personal tastes. The sky’s the limit with concrete – make it a fashion statement or choose to make it look traditional and elegant.
No matter what type of environmentally-friendly flooring you choose, you need to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. This is personal and will be different for everyone. But there are tons of options for anyone who is interested in greener flooring in their home. Whatever you decide to do, keeping things green is a great way to help the planet and feel good about your contribution to environmentalism. Who knows, you might even save a few bucks in the process.