Five Earth-friendly, Natural Flooring Options

From on December 20, 2007 in Green Remodeling

Flooring affects the look and feel of the entire room, adding comfort, warmth, character, or charm. But even more than that, flooring can affect your health, contributing to indoor air pollution when synthetic materials give off harmful fumes caused by adhesives, coatings, backings, and binders. The following natural flooring options are available without negative impacts to the environment or to your well being.

Natural Flooring Options

  1. A great choice for the playroom or the kitchen, cork provides light padding underfoot that helps cushion falls and even prevent glass from breaking. Harvesting cork leaves forests virtually undamaged because it is made from bark, which grows back on trees left intact and uncleared. Globus Cork floors are made from recycled wine stoppers. Cork flooring is also available in mosaic tiles.
  2. Though comparable to wood, bamboo is a grass that matures in 3 years. Compare this to trees, such as oaks, which take 120 years to mature. Drawbacks to this renewable material are that it often doesn’t come from local sources. As with wood floors, check to make sure the bamboo isn’t binded with formaldehydes. Teragren bamboo floors are manufactured in the U.S. and contribute to two LEED credits.
  3. Natural fiber floors and mats include those made from wool, sisal, coir, grass, and jute, the material of burlap bags and rope. Wool is the yarn of choice in carpets and rugs. It is naturally fiber retardant and hard wearing. It is also renewable and biodegradable at the end of its lifespan. Drawbacks to some of these materials are easy staining and coarseness.
  4. Much of reclaimed wood, such as that used at Elmwood, comes from abandoned old barns, buildings, and rural structures that are beyond repair. Pioneer Millworks makes wood flooring from old barns and industrial buildings that would otherwise be thrown away. Once the reclaimed wood is installed, though, you’d never think the silky smooth surfaces were once throwaways.
  5. Mud or earth floors give homes warmth and become a distinguishing characteristic of the home. Comfortable underfoot, they also retain heat and are energy efficient. Unlike other natural flooring options, like bamboo, these floors are also really solid, crack free, and withstand years of use. And if you ever want to replace them along the line, they are easily resourceable, too.

When you’ve decided on a flooring material, why not get a free installation estimate from one of CalFinder’s certified flooring installers. CalFinder is recognized nationwide for honest, reliable service dedicated to making homeowners’ lives easier.