More and more of our clients ask us for eco-friendly flooring materials for their custom home or remodeling project, and we’re happy to oblige. They are sustainable, better for the environment all around, and tend to be more energy efficient. Who wouldn’t want all that?
Here are a few examples of eco-friendly flooring materials we have worked with:
Cork Flooring – Not just for wine bottles any more, cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree, which is common in Mediterranean forests. The trees aren’t cut down during harvesting, and the bark regrows to a harvestable thickness in three years or so. This makes cork amazingly sustainable. Cork is very durable and is naturally anti-microbial, water resistant, and fire retardant. You can also stain or paint it to match your décor.
Linoleum – Although the words are sometimes used interchangeably, linoleum is not the same as vinyl, which is made from PVC. Linoleum is made from natural materials, including linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments to create a wide variety of colors, and mineral fillers. It is typically mounted on a burlap or canvas backing. It’s been around since the mid-19th century and fell out of favor when vinyl flooring was invented in the 1940s. But it’s making a comeback as a durable, colorful, environmentally friendly alternative to vinyl.
Marmoleum – A 21-century version of linoleum, this all-natural flooring material comes in a huge variety of colors and patterns. Because Marmoleum is made with natural ingredients and without harmful VOCs, it has no foul odors from off-gassing into your home. It is durable and easy to clean, and the natural linseed oil contained within it provides natural bactericidal properties that prevent microorganism growth. With some creative design, we can create fun, playful patterns for auxiliary rooms or more traditional patterns that can add a dynamic look to any room.
Polished Concrete – Poured-in-place concrete floors last forever. They work well with radiant heading and cooling systems and can be polished and tinted for a beautiful, easy-to-maintain floor. (If you ever get tired of it, you can always put new flooring over the top of it.) See the photo above for a great example of a concrete floor we installed. Want to know more about concrete? We’ve got a previous blog post talking about using concrete in a custom home.
Reclaimed Hardwood – If you have your heart set on having natural hardwood floors, sustainable options exist. We have milled flooring from urban trees that had to be cut down for one reason or another. Beetle-killed pine is also a good source for flooring. Its blue-gray staining adds a unique characteristic to the grain. We also have a blog post on using reclaimed wood you should check out.
Natural Carpets – Carpet in general is not the most sustainable flooring product. It has a relatively short lifespan compared to more durable hard-surface products. However, a home full of hard-surface flooring can leave it looking a little cold. If you prefer the warmth of carpet, choosing one made from wool, sisal, or jute will greatly reduce VOC off-gassing. This limits your exposure to the nasty toxins used to produce standard carpet.
Natural Stone Flooring – When selected from local and responsibly managed quarries, natural stone flooring products offer a wide variety of colors, textures, and sizes, and are a good option for a sustainable floor. Natural stone products provide long-term durability while adding a organic warmth that is hard to replicate with manufactured floors. Stone flooring products stand the test of time in durability, as well as offer timeless design qualities. Stone may not be the trendiest material today, but in 20 years you will not need to refresh your floors. The most sustainable products we can use are those that have the longest life cycles both in durability as well as timeless design concepts.
As you’re thinking about flooring for your custom home or home remodeling project, think about eco-friendly flooring materials as an option. If you have any questions about flooring we recommend, please don’t hesitate to ask.