There is no way around it. You need a new floor.
Here are a few great green products that you may not have thought of:
New, these days, is a relative term. Reclaimed wood is a terrific choice if you love beautiful wood floors. The finished look is actually enhanced by the age and use acquired in its previous incarnation. Otherwise, choose wood that is sustainably certified. It’s one of the most ecologically sound building materials available today.
Cork grows on trees, literally. It’s the bark of Cork Oak Trees. The tree is unharmed when the bark is shaved off and can be harvested repeatedly without affecting the life of the tree. This makes using cork impeccably green. Cork holds up as well as hardwood with the added bonus that the surface is cushiony. This is a wonderful feature in a kitchen for those who cook often, though it can be used anywhere, including high traffic areas. It comes in a range of warm tones from a kind of golden yellow to medium brown. This is a great material for allergy sufferers, as it resists mold, mildew and bacteria.
Cork tiles come with a tongue-in-groove construction. No glue down is needed and can be applied over any surface. Some cork comes pre-sealed, but otherwise; after the installation has “settled in” for three days, use a water-based polyurethane.
What goes around comes around. Linoleum is back. Its use was ubiquitous in the 50’s and now it’s earned a second look because it’s always been ecologically sound. The major element is linseed oil (hence the name) mixed with wood flour, resin, limestone dust and pigments. Like cork, linoleum is great for asthma and allergy sufferers because it resists bacteria and mold. It’s also anti-static, so it doesn’t attract dust and pollen. The fiber-backed tiles have a tongue-in-groove construction and can be installed over any surface. It comes in sheets as well. Use low VOC, water-based and formaldehyde free adhesive.
For a super-renewable material, it’s hard to beat bamboo. Bamboo is a grass that in some species, can grow nearly three feet in one day. Given a deep stain finish, it’s a great substitute for hardwood floors. The application of these long wide planks varies with the type of surface, but can be stapled, nailed or glued accordingly. One interesting perk is that bamboo resists cracking and buckling when used over radiant-floor heating systems. The same can’t be said of hardwood.
These are but a few of the ever-growing options available for upgrading your environment and most are budget friendly. With so many creative, viable and green options available today, it may be harder to have an unattractive result than otherwise. You can be confident, as you proceed on your “re-newed floor project”, that you will be happy and satisfied with the results.
(Beautiful Floors Two Part Series)
The original version of this article was published on Hamptons.com. It’s presented here as a foundation for further topic discussion and updates.