Janet was ready for a change. She’d been dealing with unsightly flooring for years, always waiting for “someday” to appear. The kids needed braces and summer camps. Her husband needed a new car. But still, she dreamed – she had her perfect home in mind, and the idea wouldn’t go away.
She had pictures pinned on Pinterest. She had a stack of home improvement magazines stacked on the floor. She’d even used a vision board to “see” her home the way she knew it could be.
But one day, she came across an article that changed everything. It spoke of sustainable flooring options, and how not every floor material made the cut. There were distinct things to look for to ensure an eco-friendly product.
Are you like Janet?
You have your dream floor in mind, but you’re worried about sustainability? We get it. It’s on our minds a lot too.
Sustainable flooring – What is it?
Sustainable flooring materials are made from renewable resources, recycled materials, or low-impact manufacturing processes. They’re designed to minimize the negative impact on the environment, from production to installation and even disposal. This means they can help reduce our carbon footprint and conserve natural resources. Janet now knows this – she understands her choice in flooring can have a real impact on the world.
But here’s the kicker: Janet should be a savvy shopper. There are various options out there, and not all sustainable flooring is created equal. She should consider factors like the material’s source, durability, ease of maintenance, and how it complements her lifestyle and decor.
It’s about striking a balance between aesthetics and environmental responsibility. So, she should take her time, do some research, and make an informed choice that she’ll love, knowing she’s doing her part to take care of our planet.
What you might not know about sustainable flooring options
Whenever you shop, you have a world of opportunity. You’ll have dozens – hundreds – of choices. It comes down to buying something you’re comfortable with. And for most of us, it comes down to finding a few options and going with the best.
For many, that means focusing on price, and letting your wallet do your shopping.
But that won’t get you sustainable flooring. Here’s why.
Let’s use Janet’s neighbor as an example. Like Janet, Kathy was ready for a change. She’d been dreaming of hardwood since the day she moved in. After finding a deal on hardwood at her local big box store, she finally used her bonus check to make her dreams come true.
Big box stores deal in high volume. They care about quantity, not quality. That means they look for manufacturers that can get large amounts of product out the door, and into their big box store as cheaply as possible. They might use less-than-stellar materials, even if it has a recognizable brand name. The timber might not be sustainably or ethically harvested. You’ll never get the same quality from a “deal” as you will if you put in the time to find truly sustainable products.
And for Janet, that mattered.
What does sustainable mean?
Janet loves hardwood. She knew it was her flooring of choice. But her research made her realize that she wanted sustainable options, and watching her neighbor only solidified her desires. She knew more.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to realize Mother Earth is losing forests at a rapid pace. It’s changing everything about our world as we know it. And some of that comes from our move to better lifestyles and our demand for better living space. More people, more money, greater desires, more problems with Mother Earth.
So Janet went looking for better solutions.
It all begins with the wood source. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) are two organizations that play a vital role in ensuring sustainability in the hardwood industry.
First, the FSC and PEFC-certified forests follow rigorous standards, promoting responsible forest management practices. When hardwood is sourced from these certified forests, you can be confident it’s coming from well-managed, renewable resources. This is critical because it prevents overharvesting and deforestation, which can have devastating ecological consequences.
But sustainability doesn’t stop in the forest. The entire lifecycle of sustainable hardwood flooring is designed with the environment in mind. Manufacturers use eco-friendly processes to minimize waste, energy consumption, and emissions during production. Plus, the durability of hardwood means it can last for decades, reducing the need for frequent replacements.
During installation, eco-conscious adhesives and finishes are used to minimize indoor air pollution and health risks. As for maintenance, hardwood can be easily refurbished and refinished, extending its life even further. And when the time comes to replace it, the old wood can often be recycled or repurposed.
Janet knew this. So she spent extra time shopping to ensure she bought from a reputable manufacturer she could trust. (And a retail flooring dealer who was doing their part too!)
Are you shopping for sustainable flooring options? Here’s something to consider …
By now, you know that if you want sustainable flooring options, you’re going to have to do a bit of work yourself. You can’t just buy whatever you find at your local big box store. You’re going to have to pay attention to things like:
Material Selection – Look for materials known for their sustainability, such as bamboo, cork, reclaimed wood, or FSC and PEFC-certified hardwood. Avoid options that rely heavily on non-renewable resources.
Durability – Sustainable flooring should last a long time, reducing the need for replacements. Consider the material’s resistance to wear and tear, and how well it matches your lifestyle.
Eco-Friendly Manufacturing – Investigate the manufacturing process. Sustainable flooring should be produced using low-impact methods that minimize waste and emissions. Green certifications from organizations like GreenGuard or Cradle to Cradle are a good sign.
Recyclability – Find out if the flooring material can be recycled or repurposed when its lifespan is over, rather than contributing to landfills.
Installation and Adhesives – Use eco-friendly adhesives, underlays, and installation practices that reduce indoor air pollution. Some adhesives can emit harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so look for low or no-VOC options.
Maintenance – Consider how easy it is to clean and maintain the flooring. Sustainable choices should be easy to care for without harsh chemicals or excessive water use.
Local Sourcing – Whenever possible, choose flooring materials that are locally sourced to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation.
Certifications – Look for certifications such as FSC and PEFC, which ensure the flooring is sourced from responsibly managed forests. Other certifications like Cradle to Cradle and GreenGuard can also assure sustainability and low emissions.
Energy Efficiency – Some sustainable flooring options and things like radiant heating systems can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Long-Term Costs – Consider the initial cost and long-term savings. While sustainable flooring might be more expensive upfront, its durability can lead to cost savings over time.
Aesthetics – Of course, the flooring should also match your style and home decor. Choose a material, color, and texture that you love and complements your living space. Something you’ll love for many years to come.
It’s really not that difficult. Just like Janet, what you need is a plan. And that’s something you can start early. (While you’re still dreaming!)
Need some help? Why not stop by today? We’re here to answer all your questions, show you what’s available, and help you make the right decision for your home and lifestyle.