Over time eco-friendly has evolved from boring, bland, and not so exciting designs, to intriguing and beautiful. Manufactures have really stepped up to meet the demands of their environmentally savvy clients.
Have you ever thought of cork as a floor material? Cork is harvested from cork-oak tree in the sustainable forests of the Mediterranean. To obtain the cork the tree isn’t chopped down as it is the bark that is used, which ensures that more of the bark will grow in around three years. Cork is fire retardant, long lasting, and is said to act as a natural insect repellent, as well as cork is easy to maintain and reduces allergens in the home. Cork floors, depending on the quality can last up to thirty years! Like wood, it can be painted or stained to match any color or design used in your home.
Bamboo flooring is another interesting material; bamboo is a grass like substance that is similar to hardwood. It is durable, easy to maintain and even easier to install. Bamboo is made from vegetation that takes only three years to grow instead of the usual twenty years a tree would take. Bamboo, is very light and available in many hues that will work in any designs. Its varied grains and wide array of colors give it an edge over traditional flooring by allowing for customization not often found elsewhere.
Linoleum is created from a concoction of linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments and ground limestone. Like cork, it is fire retardant and water resistant. Lino is not new to the market; it fell out of favor with the introduction of vinyl in the 1940’s, but vinyl does not last as long and not at all environmentally friendly. As architects and designers began asking for it again, it re-emerged with a vast array of bright vibrant colors and a new sealer to protect it from stains so it will also hold up to a lot of modern wear and tear.
Ever wonder what happens to the wine bottles and beer bottles that are shipped to the recycler? They are converted into beautiful glass tiles. This renewable source is fast becoming a wonderful option for floors as well as bathroom and kitchen walls. Glass has similar benefits of other eco-friendly materials. It is non-absorptive and won’t mildew or mold in damp environments. It is easy to maintain and won’t stain. Glass comes in a limitless array of colors, patterns and finishes suitable for most design schemes. Unlike ceramic tiles, glass will reflect light rather than absorb it, adding that additional layer of light some rooms need.
Polished concrete is an unlikely sustainable material that is gaining in popularity. If it is polished and tinted to the homeowners taste and style there is no need for traditional flooring to be put over it. From creating a tiled effect with different colors to inlaying other materials such as glass the design possibilities are endless. Concrete is extremely durable, easy to clean and never needs to be replaced.
Carpet has long been a favorite go-to material for most homes. It is soft to walk on, comfortable to sit on and comes in a range of colors and patterns. Consider carpets made of wool. Wool is a natural resource spun into a thread that can be dyed any color imaginable, and then be woven to create a carpet. It is one of the first materials to be used as a floor covering, it is also very durable and can last centuries.
Polyester (P.E.T) Berber is another sustainable carpet to consider. It is made of recycled plastic bottles, and has a minimal impact to the environment. For every plastic bottle that is used to create this carpet it is one less sitting in our landfills. There are several benefits to this recycled material. It is durable, spill resistant and comes in a variety of aesthetically pleasing colors and patterns. It typically has a flecked appearance making it suitable to most color schemes. There are drawbacks too. Berber can be easily snagged causing it to unravel if not repaired promptly. The recycled material can be a little rough to walk on in your bare feet but overall, it’s a very economical material, kind to the environment and deserves a serious look.
With so many earth friendly options it’s easy to choose a great looking floor covering, and make your home more sustainable.