✔ Choose an environmentally friendly type of flooring – There are many different flooring options available in the market. Below is a description of some of the most common.
- Green Carpeting – There are green carpeting options available on the market. Look for carpets made from natural fibers, such as wool or jute or with a high content of recycled synthetic fibers.
- Bamboo Flooring – Bamboo is considered a renewable resource and makes an excellent green choice. It is a fast-growing grass that can be selectively harvested annually.
- Rubber Flooring – Natural virgin rubber is derived from rubber trees, a renewable resource. Using recycled rubber made from tires reduces the environmental burden of discarded tires.
- Stone Flooring – Stone flooring is a natural product and extremely durable. Try to choose stone flooring that was created locally and that does not use high VOC sealants.
- Tile Flooring – Tile flooring is very durable (ceramic or glass). Look for tiles that are made locally and have high recycled content.
- Cork Flooring – Cork is a renewable resource made from the bark of the cork oak.
- Linoleum Flooring – Linoleum is made from linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments, all pressed onto a jute backing. If you are considering linoleum be sure to ask for ‘natural’ linoleum.
- Wood Flooring – Wood flooring is a natural, durable material and can be from a renewable resource (if harvested correctly). There are several different categories of wood floors. Cork and Bamboo can be used as the raw materials in engineered and laminate wood.
- Solid wood – Solid wood floors are cut with a solid length of wood. This process can result in a high level of waste if the discarded wood is not used for another purpose.
- Engineered wood (composite wood) – Engineered wood uses a thin top veneer cut from a tree. This is attached with wood strands and particles bound together with adhesives. It is not necessarily a green option because most are not FDC-certified.
- Laminate wood flooring is not made of any solid wood. The core is compressed or bonded fiberboard topped with a layer of plastic material made from melamine and formaldehyde. This is also not considered a green option.
✔ Consider recycled wood for flooring – Recycled wood floors are made from salvaged wood and trees that would otherwise go to the landfill. The wood is milled into a new floor without affecting the world’s forests.
✔ Use FSC-certified wood – Buying wood floors made of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood guarantees the lumber is taken from forests that are properly managed.
✔ Use caution when refinishing floors – When refinishing your wood floors, be sure to take the following safety precautions: use a high-quality dust mask and a respirator; protect your heating and air conditioning system from sanding dust; use natural oil-based stains for the best results; provide plenty of fresh air during floor refinishing; and dispose of unused products and applicators properly.
✔ Choose your finish wisely – Many different finishes are available for protecting your wood flooring. These include lacquer, natural oils, shellac, varnish, acrylic/urethane, and water based sealers. For an excellent comparison chart, check out this site: http://greenhomeguide.com/know-how/article/buyers-guide-to-clear- finishes.
✔ Avoid vinyl flooring – Vinyl is made from petroleum products, it emits VOCs and ends up in landfills at end-of-life.
✔ Avoid the use of high-VOC adhesives during installation – High-VOC adhesives contribute to indoor air pollution and can result in health problems.