A variety of ‘green’ flooring materials such as wood, cork, bamboo, linoleum, natural stone, glass, and metal tiles can satisfy any demand and be beneficial for health and the environment.
Green flooring options are mostly harvested from natural materials, which can be renewed and recycled. Durability is a factor for the flooring materials, as the floor, which has to be replaced often, produces lots of waste and pollution. The best flooring does not contain any toxins harmful to the health of the material but also in the finishings and glue. The carbon footprint from the flooring materials transportation should be considered when ordering from a distant location.
In sustainable construction, every detail matters and can be a significant factor for efficient energy use. A lot of details should be considered in the flooring selection. When mentioning ecological flooring options, normally we suppose a natural, renewable, and environmentally friendly material, which can be recycled. Durability appears to be an important factor, as the short-living material of the floor will have to be sent to the landfills very soon. The material should be local so that the transport distance is minimal. The flooring material should not comprise any toxic elements and harm health. The great news about 'green' flooring is that the designers come up with new solutions and ideas.
Hardwood flooring is an ecological and renewable material, which is constantly being renewed in case of responsible forest management. Wood is biodegradable and can be recycled not only to be used as fuel but also for manufacturing other flooring options. Use of the recycled wood helps solve the waste issue and reduce environmental footprint. Wood is a green non-toxic material, although making sure that the finishings and glue used for it do not contain toxins as well is very important. It is preferable to avoid wood flooring in wet areas such as bathrooms.
Cork as a flooring option has started to be used commonly only recently. The material is organic and renewable, as it can be harvested from the bark of the same cork oak tree for about 250 years. Some cork flooring is produced from recycled wine bottle stoppers. Cork has antimicrobial, sound- and thermal-insulating properties, and fire retardant. It is naturally repellent to bugs and insects. The material is durable lasting between 10-30 years.
Bamboo is grass with similar characteristics as wood but harvested every four to six years. The material is durable, easy to maintain, and available in various colors. Just as with the wood, making sure that glue and finishings used for it are toxin-free is significant.
Linoleum is produced from 100% biodegradable components such as linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, and ground limestone. Linoleum is antibacterial, hypoallergenic, and water-resistant serving great for high-traffic areas like the kitchen. The material has a low environmental impact and can be recycled.
Carpets are frequently manufactured from nonrenewable resources such as petroleum, can be toxic, trap dust and mold. Wool carpet is an eco-friendly flooring option, which is durable and very often passed from one generation to another. Seagrass, jute, and sisal are other natural materials great for carpets.
Glass tiles are produced from discarded bottles and broken windows. Even when the material used for the tiles was not recycled previously, the tiles can be recycled without ending up in a landfill. Being non-absorptive and easy to clean material glass tiles serve well for the kitchen and bathroom.
Natural stone is a durable, recyclable, and non-toxic flooring option requiring very little maintenance. Due to the stone’s heaviness, the carbon footprint from transportation might be significant.