There’s a new flooring in town – hemp flooring is gaining in popularity.
Why? Because it’s a great product for homeowners who are looking for a sustainable, eco-friendly building material that helps make their home healthier too.
Where trees can take years to grow as a crop ready for harvesting to create hardwood flooring planks, hemp can go from seed to harvest in as little as 120 days. That makes it an incredible resource to use for creating building materials.
Yet hemp is something people are only starting to understand. While hemp flooring might not be as wildly popular as hardwood, we’re intrigued by the possibilities and wanted to share it with you. Let’s start with a little research into the industry.
The history of Hemp
Hemp is most commonly associated with the cannabis plant. When most people hear “hemp”, their mind slips back to their college days, and think of it being used for only one thing. Yet hemp is turning into a crop with many uses.
As a nation, we’re starting to accept it as a crop. Under the USDA, the 2018 Farm Bill expanded protection for hemp cultivation throughout the country. It allows the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines, and does not restrict the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products, so long as the products themselves are consistent with the law.
While CBD related products may still have varying degrees of legality from state to state, other products – like building materials – can be sold anywhere.
How hemp flooring is made
Hemp flooring is designed to resemble hardwood, yet it’s a more sustainable product that isn’t hardwood at all.
The concept of having hardwood flooring created from other byproducts isn’t new. Homeowners are already in love with materials like bamboo, which is a grass-like product, and cork, which is made from the bark of a tree.
Hemp is just another way to use a natural product and give it a useful life inside our homes. If it can do it in a better way for our environment, and healthier for our bodies, why not?
Hemp flooring is manufactured by compressing dried hemp stalks into blocks using a soy-based binder. Extreme pressure is used to seal the stocks together into 4 foot planks. These blocks are pressed together using a hemp veneer pressed onto a plywood board. The result are boards resembling hardwood planks, with a tongue and groove application system.
What makes it eco-friendly is the process used for pressing the material together. The top finish of a hemp floorboard is made from a non-toxic liquid that solidifies quickly and doesn’t evaporate like other water-based products. That means only trace amounts are released into the ozone during processing.
The curing process is also more eco-friendly. To create the boards, manufacturers use UVA and UVB light, meaning it’s a formaldehyde-free, zero-VOC process that creates a durable top coat. This process also makes a floorboard that is as much as 25 percent harder than some of the most popular hardwoods on the market.
Let’s talk more about Hemp sustainability
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you care greatly about building a home from sustainable products. You’re trying to move towards carbon neutral living and want to do so in an efficient way.
People love hardwood because of its sustainability. Yes, you need to be aware of where the wood is sourced from, how it’s produced, and how it’s installed. But with adequate research, you can use hardwood like oak and feel good about your purchase.
Hemp can make that process even better.
As we’ve already mentioned, hemp grows much faster than an oak tree used as a crop. While an oak tree can take years to reach maturity, hemp moves from seed to harvest in as little as 120 days.
If you’re aware of your carbon footprint, it’s worth looking at hemp. According to one study, a plot of hemp absorbs four times more carbon as compared to a plot of trees the same size. Given that hemp can be harvested over and over again, this adds up over time. By the time a crop of hemp is harvested, one ton of hemp will have sequestered on average 1.62 tons of CO2.
While this article focuses on hemp flooring, it is also exciting to point out that flooring isn’t the only building material being targeted by the hemp industry. Insulation, particleboard, plaster, roofing materials, and finishing products such as caulking, sealants, varnishes, and paints are all utilizing the environmental benefits of using hemp as a base.
Strength and durability
While homeowners and manufacturers alike are excited about the potential hemp brings to the market, sustainability isn’t enough if durability isn’t also a factor. Luckily, hemp flooring has that too.
Hemp flooring is designed to look and feel like oak. Even better, hemp flooring is engineered to be as much as 20 percent harder than traditional oak wood. Tests have shown hemp to have a hardness factor of more than 2,000 on the Janka scale, which gives it a similar quality as Brazilian Cherry.
Hemp can be cut, sanded, and stained just as you would any traditional hardwood. That makes it a perfect choice for every room you would install hardwood. It also makes it the perfect choice for other building projects such as facing, furniture, and molding. As always, be sure to test the product thoroughly in the space you desire before you use it in your home.
Are you ready to use hemp flooring in your home?
While it’s still considered a new product, and isn’t yet available on the mass market, it’s only a matter of time before you see it installed in a wide variety of places.
Because it won’t warp like hardwood, and doesn’t have to be designed while avoiding knots and other blemishes, there is a decrease in wood waste.
This is one building product that homeowners and designers alike are going to enjoy putting inside remodels and renovations.
The only question left is: will you be installing hemp flooring in your home?