Consumers today are choosing environmentally friendly products to build, furnish and decorate their homes. Flooring and floor products are no exception. With a wide selection of products made from natural sources that are nonthreatening to our environment, that do not deplete our natural resources and that recycle old products into reusable ones, eco-flooring is a trend that is here to stay. Add on the fact that these eco-floors are durable, long lasting, beautiful and fairly in-expensive to purchase, these new floors are a win-win situation all the way around.
There are many types of eco-friendly floors on the marketplace today. For example, you can find hardwood floor alternatives that are eco-engineered, designed to look beautiful, last for years and use up to 30 percent less hardwood than conventional hardwood floors. You can also check out the reclaimed wood flooring that uses planks and other old floor products from buildings that are about to be demolished. This reclaimed lumber will create a new refurbished piece of wood suitable for flooring in any room in your house. The wood is refinished, sanded and cut into floor planks and then placed into position with nonpolluting glue. One final option for wooden flooring can come from left-over new wood that would otherwise be thrown away, abandoned or burned. By reusing scraps and pieces of left-over wood, meshing them together to form new floor boards, you will have a strong wooden floor that will last a lifetime. Whether it is eco-engineered wood, reclaimed lumber or the reuse of new wood scraps, the cost of this type of flooring is about one half that of conventional wooden floors.
Cork is considered to be one of the environmentally safest materials for flooring and other building products. Cork bark is carefully harvested by hand every nine years throughout the forests of Portugal and Spain. This careful harvesting does not harm the tree in any way. This bark is then treated, processed and cut into planks for use in our homes. Cork has so many other benefits as well. For example, cork is resistant to all liquids and keeps moisture out, is insect resistant, germ resistant and will not absorb dust or give off harmful chemicals. As far as providing and maintaining warmth, cork is a great insulator not to mention, it absorbs sound making it an excellent barrier for sound-proofing any room in your home. With regards to the cost, cork flooring works out to be one half the cost of other flooring materials making it the perfect choice not just for the environmentally conscious but also for budget conscious shopper as well.
Bamboo flooring has many great features much like cork. Because it grows in a tropical country, bamboo is moisture resistant, warp resistant, spills and stain-repellant making it a good choice for the well-used kitchen or bathroom areas. Bamboo is also resilient to high temperatures such as radiant heat systems, something that other floor systems cannot tolerate. As far as replacing the bamboo-resource, bamboo grows very quickly in its natural habitat and can be harvested every five years or so. Most importantly, the cost of bamboo flooring is about one half that of regular flooring and a bamboo floor will tolerate years of family traffic long before it ever shows signs of needing replacement.
Leather flooring is a very hot consumer trend these days. Leather left over from factories that manufacture leather goods (coats, belts, purses) is put to good use by recycling it into leather floor panels. The same engineering used to manufacture cork or bamboo floors is used to produce leather floors that resist moisture, are highly durable and beautiful as well. Recycled leather floors require no extra steps in cleaning or care than traditional floors do. With the wide range of colors (leather can be dyed) and designs, leather floors are suitable for almost any room in your home. The best part though is the cost – recycled leather floors cost about one half that of a traditional floor and if well cared for, they can last several decades.
Eco-friendly linoleum and carpets are also available to the consumer today. Eco-linoleum today is made from linseed oil, wood flour and from rosin (sap). One of the best things about eco-linoleum is that it is biodegradable and when it decomposes, it does not release dangerous toxins into the soil. If this linoleum is installed professionally, it can be installed with little or no toxic glue. Another great feature about eco-linoleum is that it is relatively easy to maintain – dust and dirt does not adhere or attract to it and the linseed oil component of this flooring resists bacteria growth. Eco-linoleum is an excellent choice in flooring where allergies exist. The cost of this floor is very inexpensive and if you purchase linoleum tiles, you might even save more money by installing them yourself.
Probably the worst option for flooring is traditional carpet. Two of the biggest concerns with regards to carpeted floors are that they are a breeding ground for allergens and toxins brought into the house by ordinary shoes. Chemicals used to clean a traditional carpet adds more toxins into your carpet and these toxins often remain there until the carpet is placed into a landfill. In a landfill, carpets take up to 20,000 years to decompose while depositing harmful chemicals back into the earth at the same time.
Eco-friendly carpet, on the other hand, is made from old recycled carpets, recycled plastic and from corn sugar. Although allergens, bacteria and dirt brought into the home is not totally avoidable, how the carpet is cared-for and cleaned is something you can control. Cleaning your eco-carpet with biodegradable cleaners will not only benefit the life of the carpet but also protects the environment. When it is time to discard the carpet and take it to a landfill, eco-friendly carpets decompose easily and will not harm the soil. The cost of an eco-friendly carpet is about one third that of a traditional carpet and by proper cleaning and care, the carpet will last for years.
You can check out and compare which floor is best for you and your family by going to the many retailers that offer flooring products. In addition, there are many specialty shops that have lots of information on all the floor products they sell helping you to make your final decision easier. The wise flooring choices you make today will not only benefit your family, your health and your pocket book but most of all, the environment we all live in.