"People today are understandably concerned about the impact of various building materials on the health of Mother Earth. If you’re planning to install a new floor, here are three options to help you do that in a sustainable fashion.
This unique flooring choice is considered “green” for one important reason: No plants are ever harmed in its production. Cork is bark from the cork oak tree. The bark grows back after harvest, and the tree itself remains healthy.
Among the many items made from cork, flooring is perhaps the most beautiful. Its gentle variations in color and shading allow cork to blend easily with any decor, and its soft, sound-muffling resilience is as easy on the ears as it is on the feet. Although its acoustic benefits and under-foot softness are made possible by millions of tiny air pockets, cork resists permanent denting, and it is never spongy.
Cork possesses a unique ability to repel such allergens as bugs and mites. It is also resistant to rotting. Cork can, however, be cut by sharp objects, and while it possesses some moisture-resistant properties, it will require waterproofing when installed in a kitchen or bathroom.
example of cork flooring - image courtesy of texturesflooring.com
Bamboo is probably the closest a sustainable material can get to ordinary hardwood. The increasing popularity of bamboo for the manufacture of such items as cutting boards, place mats and bedding serves as a testament to its beauty, versatility and durability. Its strength is its pliability: Bamboo plants will normally bend in winds that cause trees to break.
Because bamboo is actually a grass, it grows very quickly and can be harvested as often as every five years. Considering the beauty of the flooring it produces, the benefits of bamboo become increasingly obvious. Many people are unaware of the differences in color, pattern and finish that bamboo flooring can provide. These variations allow a bamboo floor to look as good in a casual, country setting as it does in a fancy drawing room.
example of bamboo flooring, courtesy of interiordesign-newyork.com
Rammed Earth Flooring
This may sound like something new and different, but earthen floors have been around since prehistoric times. What’s changed today is the way in which they’re constructed.
A rammed earth floor consists of a mixture of clay, fiber and sand that has been spread in successive thin layers over a base of tamped gravel. It is normally sealed and protected with a finishing coat of linseed oil, but in high-traffic areas, it can be treated additionally with a coat of perilla oil and finished off with a waxen sealer.
Although it seems implausible, earthen floors can be laid in a variety of colors and textures, and they can even accept in-floor tubing for radiant heat. Of course, it should go without saying that earth is the least expensive flooring option available today.
example of rammed earth flooring, courtesy of planetgreen.com
While they may seem a bit out of the ordinary, any one of these three flooring options can offer a viable, eco-friendly and equally beautiful alternative to an ordinary hardwood floor."
Author Bio: Jared Sanders is a flooring expert at Ambient Bamboo, a leader in the alternative flooring industry. Ambient Bamboo carries a variety of styles and colors, offering you an inexpensive green flooring option.