by Jenni Barnett
on Monday, November 7th, 2022 at 11:00am.
Eco-friendly flooring is a more popular flooring choice now than at any time previously—particularly within this century. Homeowners like you are increasingly motivated to ensure that their renovations and upgrades are as green as possible, with building materials and appliances remaining the most common starting points. Today, we’re sharing our top ten eco-friendly flooring options, so be sure to read through to the end before you spring for your upcoming flooring remodel.
What makes flooring material eco-friendly?
The main factors that determine how green a flooring material is are:
Whether or not it is made from recycled, renewable, or sustainably sourced materials
The nature of the chemicals required for production, maintenance, or repair
How far it must be shipped from source to destination
Its expected lifespan
How it affects the environment upon disposal
1.) Eco-friendly carpeting
The carpet to which many of us have been accustomed is not at all sustainable. Synthetic fibers are sourced from petroleum, are usually produced with VOCs, and release microplastics into the water supply each time they’re shampooed.
For these reasons, we recommend carpets made from incredibly durable and comfortable wool, sisal, seagrass, hemp, or jute. The colors, textures, and pile options available between the five are extensive and will provide a touch of luxury to your home that synthetic substitutes can’t.
While homeowners sometimes lump linoleum in with vinyl, it is sourced primarily from linseed oil, which is derived from the seeds of the flax plant. When combined with ground wood and cork, linseed oil yields durable and fire-resistant linoleum.
While it’s not quite as popular as it was in the past, we’re all for bringing it back. Linoleum is available in an array of colors, patterns, and textures, and remains an excellent choice for bathrooms and laundry rooms.
3.) Recycled Rubber
As a synthetic, petroleum-based product, rubber may seem like a strange choice for our list. Still, flooring made from recycled rubber tires is incredibly durable, waterproof, and does its bit to keep existing rubber from being burned or tossed in a landfill.
4.) Reclaimed Hardwood
Hardwood flooring has always been the king of residential flooring and will remain popular for many decades to come. Still, hardwood flooring is often unsustainable due to concerns about deforestation and even production.
Don’t give up on hardwood just yet though. Reclaimed hardwood can be sourced from old homes, commercial spaces, and even decommissioned ship interiors. Still, the source continues to matter; if the wood on offer has ever been painted with lead-based paints or treated with harsh chemicals, it’s going to be more toxic than newly manufactured flooring.
Reclaimed wood can therefore only be recommended with caveats, and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
5.) FSC Certified Hardwood
If you prefer new hardwood flooring, just be sure to choose products that have been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. The FSC only certifies boards that meet standards for sustainable sourcing and production, and are therefore perfect for your green home.
If you’ve had the pleasure of walking on cork flooring, you already know how comfortable it is underfoot. What you may not know is that cork is immensely sustainable thanks to the way it’s harvested. Because cork products are made from only the outermost layer of cork tree bark, it is fully restored a mere three years after harvest! Thanks to its durability, water resistance, and fire resistance, beautiful cork flooring lasts from one to three decades—well after the raw material has replenished several times over.
Of all the eco-friendly flooring materials, bamboo is easily the most familiar to today’s homeowners. Bamboo plants are remarkably fast-growing grass that fully regrows within three to five years. From an aesthetic standpoint, bamboo resembles hardwood and is similarly simple to install—and usually easier to maintain.
If concrete flooring makes you think of big-box hardware stores and industrial warehouses, you may be instantly opposed to the effect a gray, dull floor would have within your home. However, concrete floors can be stained any color and polished to a dazzling shine. Concrete is affordable, it’s the most durable flooring option on our list, and it’s also the most eco-friendly.
9.) Natural Stone
Stone is a natural byproduct of the earth’s own processes, meaning it’s continually being replenished. While it’s incredibly durable, and may therefore never need replacement while you own your home, it’s also easy to recycle or repurpose at any time.
A key concern when choosing stone is finding one that’s sourced near our region; otherwise, the shipping costs and fuel consumption outweigh the benefits of choosing this heavy, natural option.
10.) Recycled Metal Tile
The most expensive option on our list, recycled metal tile flooring is manufactured from scraps of copper, aluminum, or brass. It’s offered in beautiful colors and finishes, and can be laid in nearly any pattern.
Recycled metal tile is lighter than stone or glass, is extremely durable, and won’t fingerprint like stainless steel surfaces.
When it comes to reducing one’s carbon footprint, reducing indoor exposure to VOCs, and making remodeling choices that will raise your home’s resale value, going for green flooring materials is a no-brainer!
Have you installed one of the eco-friendly flooring options on our list? Or do you have an additional type you’d recommend? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
As always, we appreciate you spending time with us here on the Parks blog. Happy remodeling!