Where Do You Stand – On Green Floors?

December 4, 2010

For the last several years the buzzword for anything and everything to do with home improvement has been green. Not green as in the color you get if you mix blue and yellow, but green in eco friendly sense. That is especially true of flooring.

Before we begin discussing newer green flooring materials, it should be noted that two forms of flooring that sometimes used to be considered rather environmentally unfriendly – vinyl and traditional carpet – have undergone quite an overhaul in the past few years in response to the call for more environmentally sound flooring products. New vinyl flooring no longer gives off so many VOCs (volatile organic chemicals – nasty things) and the carpets of the 21st century have fewer chemical additives.

However ask the average person what green flooring they might have heard of recently and two are going to keep popping up again and again in their answers – bamboo and cork.

Although they are the “hot new green choice” the fact is that neither is really new to the flooring industry, to be honest. It’s just that both of these materials have lots to offer when it comes to the more responsible use of natural resources, human health concerns, and good, old-fashioned practicality. But which one is a better choice?

Bamboo can certainly chalk up points for sustainability – it is after all a grass. But cork flooring scores just as highly, if not more so. Cork is made only from the bark of the cork tree and one tree can be harvested every ten years or so. In addition some cork flooring manufacturers are also beginning to use recycled cork (yes from wine bottle stoppers) when making their cork flooring products, giving them double the “green power” .

Once actually installed bamboo flooring looks and lasts very much the way traditional hardwoods do so if you love hardwood flooring you are going to love bamboo. It comes in a myriad of different colors, has a beautiful texture and is suitable for use in almost any room in the home.

Cork flooring also comes in a great many different hues and it has some very special properties of its own. The “give” that finished cork flooring possesses is very easy on the feet and back and its noise absorption properties are rather impressive.

Making a choice between the two should really be a personal one, based on aesthetic preference and probably flooring budget rather than wasting hours trying to weigh up which is the “greener” choice.

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