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Floor Coverings

Choosing the Best Floor Covering for Your Home

by Tomio Mack, Writer,

Choosing the color and material of a new floor in a house is hard enough without considering environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes. The plentiful selection in flooring extends in to the realm of "green", with the opportunity to install environmentally friendly floors. Most "green floors" are composed of environmentally friendly products or recycled materials which limit landfill waste.

  • Green carpets are composed completely or partially of recycled food and drink containers with no sacrifice in selection and better durability. The fully recycled carpets keep forty food or drink containers out of a landfill with each square yard cut. The resources to create green carpet are also friendly on the environment by using a manufacturing and dying process that is less harmful to the environment and requires less energy than conventional carpet production. The synthetic carpet fibers are also more stain resistant and easier to maintain. Synthetic carpets typically meet a higher air quality standard, but be sure they meet the EPA indoor air quality standards.
  • Underlayment, or padding, to provide floor cushioning and noise dampening is needed below the carpet. Some carpet underlayment is made of wool which meets green standards. Wool underlayment is devoid of formaldehyde or any added dyes or chemicals. The benefit with wool is it absorbs odor and keeps the air quality clean. The truly green method would be to invest in a 100% recycled carpet underlayment. This is not a sacrifice in comfort or function. The recycled carpet underlayment has varieties which are more durable and softer than environmentally harsh alternatives.
  • Wood flooring and the option to go with wood or bamboo are considerations. When some kind of wood comes into play, the thought of depleting our green resources comes to mind. It is possible to have the beauty of wood or bamboo and maintain environmental friendliness. Green Building or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building materials ensure environmentally friendly construction. Some wood may also be purchased from certified environmentally friendly wood suppliers. The "Forest Stewardship Council" is such a certifying organization that manages and sets standards of forest management to limit the environmental implications from logging.
  • • Bamboo flooring is an environmentally friendly flooring option that creates a "green" floor from natural resources. Bamboo is a grass that grows at an immensely rapid rate and therefore can be harvested and used sooner than hardwoods. The downside is that sometimes rainforests are depleted in the process of harvesting bamboo. Bamboo may be green, but make sure the harvesting and production is also environmentally friendly. Bamboo is recognized as a green building material by LEED, but the components of bamboo flooring can also defeat the purpose of using a green resource. The laminates and finishes on the bamboo can have some environmentally toxic elements, as well as the glue used to adhere the pieces of bamboo together and to the floor. The laminates on many bamboo floors are environmentally friendly. Aside from the laminate, request glue that does not use formaldehyde in the formula, and environmental friendliness is maintained. Choosing environmentally friendly flooring does the environment a favor, but be sure the additional materials needed in the flooring are also environmentally friendly.

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