Are you on the watch for wood flooring that's truly eco-friendly and sustainable? Take a look at some of the latest efforts in this field before making your choice.

 

1. Emissions-Compliant Hardwood: Sometimes your home or office just looks best with a traditional or exotic hardwood. This may not seem like the most eco-friendly option, but there are actually very environmentally conscious ways to harvest and produce hardwood flooring, if you know where to look. First, look for emissions-compliant hardwoods (the CARB or California Air Resources Board standard is a good example of this) that have been created with a minimal amount of total carbon dioxide used. Not that this applies to composite hardwoods that also use less natural wood: If you want pure hardwood boards, then try to find those that are locally sourced and not shipped from tree farms around the world. A surprising number of hardwoods are indeed grown within the country.


2. Reclaimed Flooring: Reclaimed flooring has both pros and cons. On the pro side, it can look incredibly beautiful when restored and treated properly, and since it reuses wood flooring entirely it's also one of the most eco-friendly options that you can find. However, it can be difficult to find just the right reclaimed wood for your home, and reclaimed wood projects tend to be some of the most expensive possible – especially if you want it done right.

 

3. Scrap Flooring: Scrap flooring is a new type of flooring (at least for residential homes) that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. It uses a random collection of wood construction scraps and sets them in careful designs as flooring. This can look very elegant and natural when done correctly. However, while materials may be easy to find, the work itself can be complex and time-consuming, so patience is required.

 

4. Cork: Cork has risen in the last 10 years as a more common option for particularly eco-friendly floors. It is harvested from bark without killing the tree itself, which makes it one of the greenest options available, and it is resistant to mildew and similar problems. While the cork material is soft and springy, it can also be damaged and stained more easily than other materials, and isn't always a good idea if your home has dogs or kids. Ask about the different types of cork flooring and protective materials used to help prevent damage.


5. Bamboo: Bamboo grows back very quickly and has a clean, vibrant look in many shades, but traditionally it has certain environmental problems. The energy used in shipping and production tend to offset any environmental gains, and bamboo uses a large amount of adhesives when the strands are glued together into boards, which is also problematic. If you like the look of bamboo, see if you can find any locally sourced products for a more truly eco-friendly buy.