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What Makes Flooring Environmentally Friendly?

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-01-18      Origin: Site


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For many homeowners, sustainability is an important factor during any remodeling project—especially where floors are concerned.

So: when it comes to choosing eco-friendly flooring, evaluate your choices based on these five 5 factors to help determine exactly how environmentally friendly your flooring is:

#1: Your Floor’s Durability

One of the most important elements to weigh when it comes to environmentally friendly flooring is durability.

Products that offer longer useful lives don’t need to be replaced as frequently—creating less waste and reduced pollution from its manufacturing processes. Durable flooring options also deliver value. Because they last longer, you don’t have to pay for new flooring many times throughout the years.

For example, from an environmental standpoint, one of the disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring is its synthetic (plastic) construction. But many people also see vinyl plank as an eco-friendly type of flooring because it never needs to be replaced. One floor can last 50 years or more!

#2: Your Floor’s Place of Origin

Flooring products come from around the globe. Materials may be sourced on one continent and manufactured on another. So when shopping for sustainable flooring, you need to consider where products come from.

Even if a finished flooring product is made in the USA, if its materials are sourced overseas, shipping those materials can result in significant carbon emissions. The most environmentally friendly flooring is produced locally!

#3: Your Floor’s Recyclability (and Recycled Content)

Eventually, all flooring reaches the end of its useful life and must be replaced. But what happens next to those old floors? Are they able to be recycled and turned into new products? Can they be repurposed for other uses? Or is a landfill their final destination?

While many of us aren’t thinking about the end of a floor’s life when selecting new surfaces, this is a key element to consider when it comes to environmentally friendly flooring, If your floors can’t be recycled, they could have a negative and lasting impact on the environment long after they’re out of your house.

Solution: buy floors that can be recycled. Or, buy floors that are made from recycled content! Choosing flooring products composed of recycled materials helps reduce waste at the end of the item’s lifecycle. For example, some low-VOC carpet can be made from recycled bottles or rubber flooring from old tires.

#4: Your Floor’s Raw Materials—Renewable or Otherwise

Many flooring types are composed largely or partially of renewable natural resources. Even the best engineered wood flooring is partially made of easily renewable plywood.

Renewable resources are those that can be replenished. The bamboo forests used to manufacture the best bamboo flooring, the wood used by the best hardwood floor brands, even the clay used to create scratch-resistant flooring tiles—are of these are renewable materials that can be replanted or recreated.

Hemp flooring, for instance, is incredibly easy to regrow. In fact, a hemp stalk can grow from seed to harvest-ready stem in as little as 120 days!

However: just because a material is renewable doesn’t mean it’s actually being renewed or harvested responsibly. For example, if you look into some teak flooring pros and cons, you’ll find that even though teak can be harvested renewably, illegal harvesting is still a massive problem.

Solution: when selecting environmentally friendly flooring, make sure you look for third-party certifications that ensure renewable production.

#5: Your Floor’s VOC Levels

VOCs stands for volatile organic compounds, chemicals produced by all sorts of industrial manufacturing. That new-car smell? VOCs. Tragic, we know.

Unfortunately, if you don’t buy low-VOC flooring, certain products can off-gas these harmful chemicals in your home. And while we encounter VOCs in all sorts of places, a high concentration of VOCs in enclosed rooms can pose a health risk to vulnerable groups.

Limit health risks to your family and damage to the environment by choosing or products that contain no VOCs. Look for low-VOC vinyl flooring brands like Proximity Mills or non-toxic laminate flooring—or carpets containing low levels of VOCs.  

One more important note about VOCs in flooring:

Not all products are created equal. While some types of wood flooring may be harvested sustainably, they may be treated with resins or stains that emit VOCs. And natural materials packed with VOCs lose their status as “environmentally friendly flooring”.

All in all: due to a lack of universal standards as well as the greenwashing phenomenon, you can’t always trust that a product labeled “green” or “eco-friendly” really is.

For these reasons, you have to evaluate these 5 factors of environmentally friendly flooring to determine which products you feel comfortable purchasing and using in your home.

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