How Eco-Friendly Are Your Floors?

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

This is probably a question very few of us have stopped and thought about. With sustainability and greening linked to practices such as recycling or organic produce, the subject of eco-friendly flooring is not one that is often discussed. One possible explanation for this is that flooring is not something homeowners would do every day. Studies have shown that indoor pollution poses a serious health risk and this is often due to paints and finishes and, believe it or not, flooring. Many of the substances used to install or clean carpets or highly toxic.

Below is a quick reference of materials used in flooring with a brief dissection of each one’s environmental impact. If you are doing any remodelling, renovating or refurbishing it could well be worth keeping an eye out for the following flooring materials.

Stone floors not only have a stylish look about them, but are highly durable and even though your initial outlay would be great, you can’t beat them as a long term solution. Type of stone floors include marble, granite, slate and sand-stone. Each is aesthetically pleasing and if the stone you use in your refurbishment is sourced nearby, it ranks highly on the list of eco-friendly floors.

Linoleum is produced using natural, readily available substances including linseed oil, pine resin and wood flour. Though many older homes would have ripped up old linoleum floors because they fell out of fashion, eco-conscious homeowners have looked to them as they are non-toxic, more cost-effective and biodegradable – something not often looked at when remodelling.

Bamboo is a rapid-growing grass that requires little or no pesticides in its farming. It also is a major oxygen producer – a section of bamboo forest can produce thirty-five percent more oxygen than a similar sized section of regular trees. With a tight grain and eye-catching colour, it has become a very trendy flooring option. They are easy to maintain and as they do not harbour dust mites, they are worth considering if you are suffer from allergies. Though fairly inexpensive, it is mostly grown in Asia and would need to be shipped to South Africa, something that does dent its green credentials. You would also need to ensure that you are buying kiln-dried bamboo to ensure quality.

Another green flooring option to make a note of is cork. It’s fairly durable, water-resistant and can aid in insulation (it also absorbs noise). Cork floors may scuff a little more easily and might not be suitable for all rooms or households. They are also prone to sun damage and exposure to sunlight would need to be considered.

The homeowner has a multitude of options available and choosing an eco-friendly floor needn’t be expensive. The notion that “going green” means choosing items and products that are neither en vogue nor aesthetically pleasing is also one that is changing as more emphasis is placed on sustainability.

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