Renovation is an activity that comes once in a while in everyone’s home and usually implies a total makeover, from ceiling to floors. This article is a sustainable approach on floors, encouraging all our readers out there to consider the latest in green floor options, rather than applying regular finishes.
Yesterday floors – polyvinyl chloride, industrial carpets, hardwood – leave a heavy footprint on the environment: hardwood floors affect the natural wood resources, common carpets are often derived from petroleum and glued with various chemicals, some of which are carcinogen. Green approaches involve environmentally friendly flooring alternatives, such as bamboo, natural linoleum, reclaimed wood, recycled carpeting and so forth.
As some of you might know, bamboo is not a tree, but a giant grass that grows much faster than wood, which makes it a highly renewable material, therefore environmentally friendly. Bamboo is harvested at maturity (5.5 to 6 years) and manufactured into the finite product under strict environmental standards.
Bamboo floors have a high strength, durability, as well as resistance to insects and moisture. Above all these, they boast a beautiful glare and sophistication, making them the perfect alternative to newly harvested hardwood floors.
Unlike PVC or vinyl linoleum (which are entirely based on synthetic materials and petroleum-based chemicals), natural linoleum is 100% biodegradable. It is made of renewable materials, such as solidified linseed oil, pine resin, cork and wood dust, calcium carbonate – all natural materials that require little energy to harvest and manufacture the finite product: toxins-free linoleum. In other words, as long as the sun shines and the rain falls, linoleum can be produced.
Natural linoleum is a durable material that lasts from 25 to 40 years, implying lower long-term costs. When it needs to be replaced, it can be either incinerated or left to naturally decompose on a landfill refuse site. As it is fully biodegradable, none of the above disposal means lead to the release of harmful substances.
A regular carpet is made of nylon, polypropylene or polyester, synthetic latex, polyurethane or PVC – all of which are petroleum products, therefore noxious. Moreover, synthetic carpets release all sorts of chemicals, due to their composition and the heavy chemical treatments applied on them.
The eco-friendly alternatives to standard carpeting use a variety of recycled materials, including plastic bottles, nylon, cotton, wool or reclaimed carpets. Wool carpets are even more sustainable than the synthetic ones, because they consist of a renewable and biodegradable resource – the cut hair of sheep or llamas.
Plant fibers (e.g. sisal fibers) are also sustainable flooring components that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are biodegradable and free of chemical treatments.
Seagrass, a thick fiber grown underwater, is another sustainable option. Seagrass carpets are bound with latex, also a natural ‘ingredient’.
All of the above mentioned materials derive from renewable resources and contribute to the high air quality of the indoor spaces.
Recycled/reclaimed hardwood flooring
The reduction of wood waste in the flooring industry can be achieved by recycling wood flooring while merging timeless wood working techniques with modern innovation, thus creating solid green wood floors. Having maximum durability and great design opportunities, this sustainable finish is perfect for any interior space, as well as an excellent choice for the environment.
‘Reclaimed’ refers to building materials redeemed from demolished or out of use buildings, then embedded in new projects. This operation makes the new floors more than sustainable, it makes them part of a story.
If you want to consider floors that are sustainable and comfortable at the same time, cork is an excellent choice. The floors are based on a renewable material – the bark of the cork oak tree, which grows back every 3 years. The material is available in a wide range of colors, from its natural honey tones to green, red, chocolate and black, thus easily blending in any interior space.
Cork’s natural elasticity makes the surfaces comfortable, soft and warm to the touch, while providing thermal and acoustic insulation and a high resistance to all kinds of traffic. Moreover, cork is hypo-allergenic (it doesn’t attract dust) and fire-resistant.
Recycled glass flooring
Glass bottles that usually make disposable waste can be recycled into beautiful, economical and sustainable floors. Ideal for modern bathrooms and kitchens, the recycled glass tiles are obtained by crushing the collected glass, which is then mixed with metallic oxides. The outcome? See for yourself.
Interior Design / Decorating Ideas / Green interior design / Eco-Friendly Flooring