Green Alternatives to Wood Flooring

Considering wood flooring for your next remodeling project but you want an environmentally conscious alternative? Why not consider reclaimed wood, bamboo, or cork flooring?

No matter which flooring product you choose, you want to look for the following green qualifications:

  1. You want a product with low or no VOCs. VOC stands for “Volatile Organic Compounds” and you can think of these as the byproducts that off-gas vapor into the air after installation like, for instance, new carpet smell.
  2. You want a product that is rapidly renewable or sustainable. This means the product must either be able to regenerate itself in less than 10 years time or it is harvested in a way that the rate at which it is harvested will never exceed the rate at which it can replenish itself.
  3. You want a product that doesn’t compromise durability or longevity. In other words, you want it to last.

Traditional wood flooring options that are also sustainable include reclaimed wood from demolition sites (wood that would otherwise be put into landfills), plantation grown wood flooring, and salvaged wood flooring from old barns & buildings. All of these “traditional” wood products are environmentally conscious because they recycle products that would otherwise be thrown out.

Bamboo flooring is another sustainable wood product that is harder than oak and more dimensionally stable than maple. Due to these properties, bamboo is quickly becoming a popular choice by builders and homeowners alike. Bamboo grasses are harvested every 6 years, over and over from the same plant. It comes in horizontal grain for a more contemporary look and stranded for the more traditionally minded.

Cork flooring begins its life as bark from cork oak trees primarily grown in the Mediterranean. It can be harvested over and over, as the cork bark grows back after each harvesting. Cork is very durable and easy to maintain. It contains no VOCs, is noise absorbent, rot resistant, and can act as an insulator from cold concrete subfloors. A protective sealer is applied after installation just as you would do for wood floors.

So if you’re in the market for new wood floors, consider using a greener alternative that will still give you the warmth and durability of traditional wood flooring, but won’t hurt the earth in the process.