You might have a strong opinion about whether to install hardwood floors because of a desire to use sustainable, eco-friendly materials in your home design. Thankfully, you can balance your ethics and your aesthetics. We’ve done the research and weighed the pros and cons to offer these tips as you pull up the wall-to-wall carpeting on your renovation.
Stay local (or regional)
With a little research, you can find suppliers that harvest and replant trees in your home state or region, so for every tree that’s used for flooring, trees are planted to replace them.
Know your (re)sources!
The Forest Stewardship Council can make sure that your lumber comes from sustainably managed forests. Dozens of types of wood are produced in FSC-certified forests in which the trees are regenerated, biodiversity is conserved, and air and water quality are preserved. FSC-certified wood flooring comes in hundreds of different shades and styles. Visit www.certifiedwood.org.
Count ‘em: 3-4-5 & 4-5-6
Pattern planking is a technique of creating hardwood flooring using as much of the tree as possible, with little waste, because the plank are cut in various widths (hence 3”-4”-5” widths and 4”-5”-6”) to maximize the wood available from each tree. Using this kind of planking is a matter of taste, since you will have a varied pattern in your flooring but you can sleep soundly knowing that fewer trees than traditional were harvested to create your floor. Plus, the trees used in your flooring are replaced with new plantings.
Pop the Cork:
No longer just for a bulletin boards or wine bottles, cork, actually considered a softwood, is an excellent choice for many reasons. Cork has a naturally elastic quality, making these floors comfortable to walk and stand on, and the wood provides thermal and acoustic insulation. The floors are also hypo-allergenic, so they won’t attract dust; are fire-resistant; and can even serve as a natural insect repellent. Marks left by high heels and furniture? Bounces back readily. Another plus: the floors are produced using the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows back every three years.
Possibly the “kale” of flooring at the moment, builders are flocking to bamboo, like a herd of hungry pandas. Vendors say it’s 13% harder than maple and 27% harder than northern red oak (typical traditional hardwoods), so it lasts longer and can withstand more use than conventional hardwood floors. The floors are naturally resistant to water, mildew, and insects, and they are sustainable since bamboo grows quickly and abundantly. At the same time, there are anecdotal stories about it being susceptible to dings and dents from high heels.
You’ve probably already heard of reclaimed wood and maybe have already considered using it – just as you reduce, reuse and recycle in the rest of your life, this involves reusing flooring, planks or wood from another building or home. It can give a patina of history and character in many rooms, while not chopping down another tree.
Thinking about new hardwood floors but don’t know where to start? Start with understanding how much it will cost.