What is eco-friendly flooring? What makes one type of flooring more environment-friendly than others? These are questions homeowners ask as they try to contribute their bit to environmental sustainability. Since floors are second only to walls in the amount of surface area they take up in a home, flooring is a good place to start.
If the materials used in making the floor are harmful, they pose a serious threat to the health of those who live in or visit the home, warns Bighorn Rentals. Every time they walk, play, or sit on it, people and pets are interacting with the floor and everything it emits.
What is eco-friendly flooring?
Sustainable flooring is not just important for the environment, it is vital to health. But what makes flooring eco-friendly?
Eco-friendly Wood Flooring
What are the best eco-friendly flooring options for the home? Eco-friendly flooring comes in many forms. But we will focus on eco-friendly flooring options that are made of wood. The following five eco-friendly flooring options satisfy all the criteria for eco-friendliness. And their diverse qualities offer homeowners a range of wood-flooring alternatives for different areas of the home.
Reclaimed and salvaged wood
Hardwood is typically not viewed as eco-friendly due to deforestation concerns, but this comes from existing wood. It passes the sustainability test because it is wood that was cut down long ago. This type of wood flooring is obtained from old houses/warehouses, disused boxcars, piers and wood salvaged from river bottoms.
Salvaged wood also comes from trees that were diseased, storm-damaged, old, or cut down to make way for developments. Reclaiming wood keeps it from rotting while preventing new trees from being cut down. This type of flooring is a good choice for people who want sustainable hardwood flooring.
Hardwood from FSC-certified sources
This is another source of sustainable hardwood flooring. The U.S. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) gives its stamp of approval to hardwood obtained from sustainably-managed sources. FSC lists 57 criteria for determining the sustainability of management practices used in forest plantations.
Among other things, the plantation should not replace forests and trees must be replanted at a faster rate than they are removed. Furthermore, the plantation must preserve an area's biodiversity and wildlife, as well as, protect air and water quality. FSC stamp of approval assures homeowners that their hardwood flooring did not damage the environment
Bamboo flooring offers both the aesthetics and durability of hardwood. Harvesting bamboo does not pose the same environmental threat that harvesting wood does, because bamboo is a grass. Despite its hardwood-like characteristics, bamboo is fast-growing. It reaches maturity in three to five years, compared to wood which takes twenty years.
Bamboo is surprisingly hard- 27% harder than Northern red oak and 13% harder than maple. Despite its toughness, bamboo is surprisingly lightweight and easy to work with. It is available in a range of hues and grains and is more customizable than traditional wood.
Cork is one of the newest additions to the family of eco-friendly wood options. It is obtained from the bark of the cork oak tree and can be harvested without harming the tree. The bark re-grows every three years and maybe harvested repeatedly. Cork has naturally anti-microbial qualities that reduce allergens in a home. It has insect-repellant properties and is fire-retardant. It is also easy to maintain and can be finished-off in a range of paints and stains. Because cork is dense and slightly spongy, it is best for rooms where noise reduction is needed. Cork tends to fade under intense UV light, and shrinks or expands in response to humidity levels. It best used in tropical areas and away from
Palmwood is less common than the other eco-friendly wood flooring options on this list. It comes from the outer layer of the trunk of old coconut trees and palm wood from unproductive coconut plantations. Being a byproduct of coconut production, it has Forest Stewardship Councilapproval. It is available as veneered flooring but is not as easy to work with as the other options.
It's no secret that Colorado Springs has two humidity levels - dry and drier. But it might not be commom knowledge that low humidity is no friend to hardwood floors.
What happens when hardwood floors lose too much of their moisture content? Since this post is not for a scientific journal, suffice it to say that hardwood floors do not like to get all dried out. Low humidity in the winter and not-as-low humidity during spring and summer months means that hardwood floors are expanding - when humidity is higher - and contracting - when humidity levels are lower. This excessive "movement" is not healthy for the floor and will cause gaps to appear between boards.
It is not uncommon for me to receive calls from homeowners complaining about gaps in their floor. My first question is: "Do you have a humidifier?" About 90% of the time, the answer is no. I then proceed to explain the importance of maintaining proper humidity levels. The proper level on the low side is 30 - 35%. On the high side you need not worry. 10 - 15% humidity levels are not unusual in Colorado Springs during winter months. So the job of the humidifier is to bring those levels up an additional 15% or so.
There are two kinds of humidifiers that you might consider: whole-house humidifiers and area humidifiers. There are pluses and minuses to both. The advantage to a whole-house humidifier is that there is little to no care involved. And, as the name suggests, it will do the whole house. These humidifiers generally mount to the furnace. When the furnace is on, the humidifier is on. However, there may be times when the humidifier needs to be on to maintain proper humidity levels but the furnace is not on. The best setup is one in which the humidifier can be on whenever it needs to be on, independent of the furnace cycles. Most of these humidifiers allow you to set the humidity level you want to achieve. Even so, it's always good to have a hygrometer (the device that measures humidity) or two in the areas where there are hardwood floors. Setting the humidifier at 30% doesn't necessarily mean that a 30% level will be achieved. If the actual levels are lower, you can change the setting to 35% or whatever it needs to be in order to achieve the desired humidity level.
Area humidifiers are generally cheaper and can be used to regulate humidity levels in a single room or area of the house. The main problem with these humidifiers is that they have to be filled with water on a regular basis. Also, if water is spilled on the floor anytime or every time the humidifier is being filled the boards will warp and then your solution becomes the problem.
All that to say "Yes" you need a humidifier if you have hardwood floors and you want to protect them and properly maintain them.
Written by Jennifer Karami on June 13, 2019
Installing new floors is a great way to update the look of your home while adding fresh appeal. While style and design are key components of the decision-making process, homeowners often neglect other areas that should be taken into consideration. Whether you choose hardwood, vinyl, or laminate flooring, be sure to do your research, especially if you’re planning to do it yourself. Otherwise, the cheapest flooring options can become more costly in the long run.
Here are 9 tips to help you avoid common flooring mistakes.
If you have hardwood floors in your home, chances are you may have had to deal with water damage or perhaps you will in the future. Water damage can range from very minor - where you may not see the signs of it at all - to very serious, like when the floor is flooded with water from a broken pipe or an ice-maker hose.
Very often, the extent of the damage is determined by how long the water is on the floor before it is discovered and dealt with. Sometimes the water travels underneath the hardwood and is not at all visible from above. It becomes visible when warped boards begin to appear.
If you're considering many different types of wood for your hardwood floor, one thing to take into account is the hardness of a particular species. Below is a chart to help you make your decision.
The above results are based on the Janka Hardness Test. All hardnesses are approximate, and based on the specific species used for flooring (For instance, Bamboo normally ranges from 1400 to 1700, but the way it is used in flooring can yeild an actual hardness of around 1160).
Douglas Fir is typically used for construction grade products (such as 2X4's), and not for flooring. It is included simply as a frame of reference (ie. Brazilian Teak is over 5 times as hard as Douglas fir).