Choosing Green Flooring Products

By: Robert Thomson

When you are looking for flooring products with greater health benefits than standard carpet and vinyl floors, you definitely want to find GREEN flooring materials. Sometimes it can get tricky knowing which flooring products are eco-friendly and which products just claim to be "GREEN". How can you tell which flooring products are truly eco-friendly? How do you know which type of flooring you need to begin with?

Green Flooring Factors

Before you jump in and buy the first green floor that looks good, you need to take a number of factors into account:

Purpose- Decide how your new floor is going to be used. Some green materials work better in high traffic areas and some flooring products are perfect for bedrooms and dens. Once you figure out how your new green flooring is going to be used, then you can focus on selecting a style.

Style - Once you decide which product to use, then you can begin to find styles that will match your home's decor. For instance, hardwood flooring comes in many traditional and modern styles. There are an infinite amount of hardwood flooring options based on the species, cut, grade and finish you select.

Cost - Green flooring varies in cost based on brand, construction, and the amount you are purchasing. If cost is a factor and you're working off a budget, you should fine-tune your flooring needs to make sure you find a product that offers both function and aesthetic beauty.

Maintenance - Remember to consider how easy your new green flooring will be to clean and how much time you'll have during your busy schedule to maintain it. Some floors require weekly care while other floors only need attention once a month.

Longevity - Green flooring has been created to withstand the test of time to reduce its impact on the Earth. But nothing lasts forever. Consider how long you expect to use the floor before you replace it. High-traffic areas with kids and pets are notoriously hard on floors and a more durable type of flooring may be more appropriate.

Types of Green Flooring

As you may have guessed, there are lots of eco- friendly products to choose from. Here is a short list of some of the most popular types of green flooring:

Hardwood - Hardwood flooring can be both green and beautiful. To ensure your hardwood floor is eco-friendly, you can choose recycled wood, salvaged wood or certified new wood floors with FSC certifications. Hardwood floors are long lasting, sometimes lasting as long as fifty years or more, depending on how well it was installed and maintained. Natural hardwood flooring has a long life span, increases your home's value and improving aesthetics.

Bamboo- Bamboo flooring is often mistaken as hardwood flooring, but it is actually a grass. Bamboo is one the best and most popular green flooring materials. It grows very quickly and after it is cut for flooring, it grows back very fast. These qualities make is a very stable and sustainable product to use for just about any floor in your house. Bamboo is also a very strong wood and rates higher than Oak on the Janka scale.

Cork - Technically considered a wood floor, cork flooring is actually harvested from the bark of the Cork Oak Tree. The tree is never cut. Farmers simply pull the bark from the tree and in about 9 years, it grows back. Cork flooring is an excellent choice for children's rooms, libraries or any other room. Cork has heat insulation as well as sound absorption properties. In addition, cork flooring comes in many styles, colors and options. It is easy to care for and one of the most eco-friendly flooring choices.

Wool Carpets- Even with wool carpets, there are a variety of choices. Non-dyed wool is an excellent choice for those that want a 100% organic carpet with a very low toxicity. Traditional wool, with its many colors and designs, is still an eco-friendly product, long lasting, soft and biodegradable.

Natural Fibers - Carpets made out of natural fibers and plants include jute, coir, flax, sisal and seagrass. Natural fiber carpets provide a warm and natural mood. All the plants are sustainable, biodegradable, eco-friendly and the most organic green flooring products. Most carpets derived from plants are used as rugs rather than full carpets, and they are very durable, beautiful products.

Rubber - One of the most economical and easy to clean green flooring options, rubber can be used in any high traffic area. Although rubber flooring can be made from synthetic materials, natural rubber is made using sustainable processes and is more eco-friendly. Likewise, a mix of recycled rubber and synthetic can be cost effective, aesthetically pleasing and green.

When looking for any type of green flooring, pay attention to the seals. Products that are Green Seal certified meet the standards for environmental management. As well, those flooring companies with the U.S. GBC LEED (U.S. Green Building Council - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification can be trusted to provide eco-friendly flooring. Green flooring is for everyone, but not every type of green flooring is for you. Choose carefully and you will have a beautiful, eco-friendly floor to last you a lifetime!

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