Are you concerned about the sustainability of the wood flooring you are planning to purchase? Recent studies show that two out of three Americans are concerned about the earth and would like to be more environmentally responsible. If you are one of them, good for you. The future of our world depends on people just like you who are committed to making wise choices in areas of their lives including home building and remodeling.
Wood: A Sustainable Choice
Wood in general is one of the most sustainable materials used in homes because wood is produced from trees and trees are a naturally renewable resource. But, some types of wood are more eco-friendly than others. A tree that only takes a few years to grow is more sustainable than one that takes one hundred years to reach maturity.
Other factors go into determining the level of sustainability as well. The amount of energy and fossil fuel it requires to produce the actual wood product plays a key role in figuring how eco-friendly it is.
How Wood Flooring Stacks Up
There are many choices you have when putting flooring down like vinyl, tile, marble, carpet, and wood. Wood is one of the most sustainable options since it is derived from trees and trees regrow. The more a flooring material is processed, the less eco-friendly it becomes.
The Fine Details
When it comes to wood flooring, the location the tree for the wood was grown in, the amount of time it took the tree to grow and how far it must be transported to get to your floor, and the amount of processing it goes through are all considerations used to determine how eco-friendly it is.
When choosing your wood flooring, it is imperative to find out where the wood came from if you want to know for sure that it is eco-friendly. As of 2008, it became illegal to import timber from sources that are unauthorized due to the irresponsible growing habits such as trees that come from a forest that prohibits the use of the trees for making products or ill-managed forests.
Seal of Approval
Truly sustainable wood will come with a seal from the U.S. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This organization has been set in place to ensure that the trees within a particular forest are grown in an environment that protects air and water and replaces trees that are cut down with new ones to be grown. There are 57 criteria factors that are involved in attaining certification such as minimization of toxic chemicals and the freedom of the loggers to unionize if the desire. The standards also include monitoring of the forests that have a small carbon footprint and don’t have a negative impact on climate change. Qualified products are stamped with the FSC logo and a number that makes the product traceable.
Domestic tree plantations are highly monitored and also have less distance to travel before they reach your home so they are the most eco-friendly. Lumber that is shipped from another country requires fuel to ship and therefore isn’t as eco-friendly so be sure to check the location your wood flooring came from. In the event that information isn’t available…beware. There is probably a reason.
Most Sustainable Types of Solid Wood Flooring
You just can’t get more eco-friendly that going with reclaimed wood for your flooring. This type of wood comes from places like old barns and warehouses, military structures, dismantled houses, and anywhere else you find discarded or aged building materials.
Oak, maple, pine, and Douglas fir are examples of the kinds of wood you can often find in reclaimed wood flooring. The price of reclaimed wood flooring can be a little steep because of the amount of work that goes into getting it from the source to your floor but you can feel great about the fact you are being extremely eco-responsible.
Salvaged Wood Flooring
Salvaged wood is different from reclaimed wood in that it is wood that is designated for the waste stream since it is considered to be too old or too diseased to sell. While reclaimed wood is getting a second life, salvaged wood hasn’t even begun its servanthood. You are doing the tree and yourself a big justice when you choose salvaged wood and don’t be fooled by the name, salvaged wood makes excellent flooring.
Pine Wood Flooring
Pine is a soft wood so it is very sustainable because the trees tend to grow fast. As one is harvested, another can be planted in its stead. Pine trees reach maturity in about 20 years as opposed to some that take much longer. While pine flooring isn’t as durable as harder woods, it is gorgeous and can always be refinished.
Palm Wood Flooring
Palm wood flooring is another great and sustainable option. It comes from palm trees that no longer produce coconuts so it is basically a repurposed wood in a way. You can find different varieties such as Flat Grain, Sugar Deco, Red Pam, and Edge Grain. Like bamboo, palm wood flooring may contain unwanted ingredients that can put out harmful gasses so it is imperative to see what chemicals were added, if any, in the processing of the wood. Palm that doesn’t contain chemicals is a wonderful choice because it is eco-friendly and beautiful.
Cork flooring is all the rage in sustainable wood flooring right now. It is derived from the bark of cork oak trees. The cork is able to be harvested off the trees without harming them so this type of flooring is the ultimate in sustainable choices. One downside to cork flooring is that it can fade from intese light – natural or otherwise. So, never use it in a sunroom or any room that is extremely well lit. Another downside is that the flooring can put off gasses so check to make sure what binders were used in the processing of the wood. But, if you check your source and pay attention to the details, you can end up with a flooring that is sustainable, healthy, and gorgeous.
The Joy of Using Sustainable Wood Flooring
Taking pride in your wood flooring and when you make eco-friendly choices, you can be proud of your floor and yourself.