You’ve thought about it for a while, and you finally decided to jump in and lay wood floors throughout your home. Most homeowners would agree that once installed, wood floors are easier to maintain and keep clean than carpet. Many home buyers find wood floors attractive, and relators add that wood floors help homes sell faster.
The problem is I don’t want to cut down a forest just so my dining room looks nice. I know you’re thinking, “Umm, Krissy, you know trees grow back, right?” True indeed, but it takes decades for tree to grow large enough to harvest for timber.
In my constant desire to learn about environmentally friendly ways to spruce up my future home, I wanted to learn about sustainable wood flooring options. If you’re interested in putting wood floors down in your home, these floors are a great eco-friendly, not to mention wallet-friendly, options to consider.
According to BuildDirect.com, cork flooring uses only the bark of oak trees. The bark of an oak tree grows back after a few years, making it an incredibly fast renewable flooring resource. Also it can be ground up and recycled into new cork flooring later.
I won’t lie, I think some cork flooring looks a bit cheap – like one of those corkboards in an elementary school classroom that kids tack finger-painted pictures on. Not a very chic look…
However, other cork floors look almost exactly like real wood or mimic other textures and surfaces found in nature. I’ve seen cork floors that look like sand or stone and others that look like part of a woven basket. This is one I found particularly interesting; it reminds me of a topography map. Cork floors seem like a great eco-friendly floor option that can accommodate almost any style.
Starting out as low as a dollar per square foot and averaging from $3–$4 per square foot, cork floor is a bit cheaper than traditional wood floors.
Reclaimed or recycled wood
A friend of mine salvaged wood from old barns and homes for a living. With a little elbow grease and care, he made those old beams look brand new again. Then he’d turn around and sell the wood to homeowners or local salvage yards. Many people gobbled up these reclaimed boards for wood floors in their new construction or historic homes. Instead of letting the wood rot away on an abandoned barn or in a dump, people could give this wood a second life in their home – plus have a really cool story about where they got their new floor.
Reclaimed wood was a pretty rare and strange commodity about ten years ago. Today, however, a greater emphasis on salvaging wood siding, beams and planks for further use has grown the demand for reclaimed wood flooring. Many websites sell this type of wood exclusively.
About a decade ago, people paid a pretty penny for salvaged wood. The good news is reclaimed wood flooring has come down significantly in price. On the low end, it starts at about $3 per square foot with an average cost of about $8 per square foot. This type of flooring varies in price depending on the type of wood and its history. Despite all this, it’s a pretty inexpensive option; I honestly thought it’d cost a lot more. Generally, reclaimed wood seems to be about on point with the price of traditional wood floors.
Bamboo flooring seems like another great option… at first. Bamboo does grow back, so it’s a renewable resource we can tap to make floors. That’s great news, right? Wrong!
Sustainability experts say that because most bamboo grows in Asia, ships use a massive amount of fossil fuels to transport it across the ocean, adding toxic exhaust fumes into the atmosphere. TLC Home adds, “Bamboo is only renewable if it’s properly maintained, and the fertilizers, pesticides and clear-cutting that has become more common to keep up with the demand for bamboo has made it less than an eco champion.” TLC Home also notes that some bamboo floors are finished with formaldehyde; that’s right, the same chemical used for embalming bodies protects bamboo floors. After doing this research, I’d steer away from it.
You don’t have to cut down a forest just to put wood flooring in your home. Cork and reclaimed wood won’t break your bank, either, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. So, skip the brand new hardwood floor and look into the eco-friendly substitutes available at your local home improvement store.
Would you consider putting an eco-friendly floor in your house? Why or why not? Share your opinions with our other readers!