Eco-friendly flooring is stylish, durable, easy to maintain—and good for the planet. Dianne Nunnally Thorn, president of Nunnally’s Floors and Decorating in Warsaw says, “more and more home and business owners are opting for green flooring. Our customers want their floors to make more than a style statement. They want their homes to say what they stand for.”
“It is becoming easier and easier to find flooring that is practical, meets your family or business’s needs and is environmentally friendly,” says Kathleen Carson, owner of Carson Flooring in Tappahannock.
Green flooring materials fall into three broad categories—salvaged, recycled and renewable. In the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, renewable, organic materials are by far the most popular choice. Renewable resources are simply natural materials that continue to grow after they are harvested.
When it comes to greening your floors, consider how you use each room and make sure to use the appropriate materials. There are natural choices to match every style and application.
Reclaimed wood flooring is made from timbers and decking salvaged from old buildings, barns, piers and other interesting places slated for the wrecking ball. Reclaimed wood floors are a conversation piece -- often they come from historically significant places and they are unique and classic. They are a recycled product and, like any hardwood floor, require professional installation.
“Reclaimed wood is a valuable resource that has an environmental impact all the way around. By recycling wood from old buildings we are creating less waste by diverting it from the landfill to your home. Also, by utilizing old wood we are not cutting down new trees,” explains Carson. “Reclaimed wood provides a look and natural character that is only produced by age, you can not get this with new wood. There is a history and a story to tell behind every piece of reclaimed wood floor.”
Cork is a harvested resource -- meaning the cork tree continues to grow and only the bark is used. Many companies use the waste product from wine corks to make their flooring. Cork is soft, reduces sound vibration, provides thermal insulation and does not mold. It’s also water resistant and does not absorb liquid so it works in any room of the house. Cork can be professionally installed but is also available with snap-lock functionality, making installing a cork floor a feasible do-it-yourself option. To get away from shades of brown, a traditional flooring color, there are hundreds of vibrant color and pattern options.
If you think cork is the latest thing in eco-flooring, think again. The Library of Congress has had a natural cork floor for over a century. In our area, cork’s natural properties make it a superior choice for kitchens. Cork is impervious to liquid, gas and rot. It is also fire retardant. And its springy resilience makes it easy on the legs when you are preparing a five-course gourmet meal. “Cork is so inspiring,” enthuses Thorn. “We recently redid an old kitchen from the floor up. The customer picked out a pretty green and brown cork, then we coordinated the countertops, backsplash and window treatments with it. It’s drop-dead gorgeous.”
Contrary to popular belief, bamboo is not a wood but a grass. A rapidly renewable resource, bamboo provides for a strong and durable floor in traditional to contemporary styles. Bamboo floors are easy to clean and maintain and cost less than hardwood, but professional installation is recommended.
Anyone who has tried to contain a stand of bamboo on their property knows just how strong and rapidly renewable it is. “Our bamboo floors are the first thing our clients notice when they come to our office,” says Susan McFadden, president of Open Door Communications in Kilmarnock. “Projecting sophisticated style is important in the advertising business.” So are practical considerations. Bamboo does not absorb moisture, so it is not prone to expansion and contraction, making it perfect for the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula’s humid environment. It is easy to clean with a damp or dry mop. “And it shows that we care about the community and the world we live in,” adds McFadden.
Recycled and Wool Carpet
Recycled carpet gives new life to old plastic food and drink containers and manufacturers use a low-impact dye to provide color. Wool carpet is made from sheep’s wool -- a soft and beautiful renewable resource. Both options are naturally resistant to stains and static electricity. They are durable and available in many styles, patterns and colors to fit in wherever you would traditionally put carpet.
“Wool floor coverings come in a host of patterns, colors, textures and forms. You can install carpeting wall-to-wall or put down an area rug. If you have a large or irregular space, you can even create a custom wool area rug, combining broadloom, borders and binding for a perfect fit,” notes Thorn.
More and more carpet manufacturers are producing lines of carpet made from recycled materials. “Mohawk, one of the carpet brands that we carry, recycles three billion plastic bottles each year and uses them to make carpet fibers. They also use post consumer waste such as automobile glass, bottle caps, shrink wrap, and much more to reduce the amount of trash going to landfills,” explained Carson. “We are really proud to carry this brand because we know all that they do for the environment.”
Recycled Glass Tile
Recycled from glass otherwise headed to a landfill, this tile comes in a wide range of colors, shapes and finishes. Great in kitchens and bathrooms, you can have a professional create your new glass floor using post-consumer waste.
Ready to go green? Visit a local flooring showroom. There you will find a staggering selection of stylish flooring options and helpful staff to help you make the perfect choice for your personal habitat.