People are becoming more environmentally aware, increasingly taking note of the impact they’re having on the world that surrounds them. Nowadays we carefully sort our plastics into coloured recycling bins, vigorously check coffee for the fair trade symbol and buy energy-efficient appliances for our homes. It’s all stepping in the right direction, but what about the floor which we actually step on? Flooring makes the foundations of a good home, and when chosen with the environment in mind, sustainable flooring forms the foundations of a good planet too.
Not only effortlessly stylish, laminate flooring is extremely sustainable too. Because its main components are leftover from the timber industry (woodchips and sawdust make up the main layers) it actually helps in preventing these materials from going to waste. The decorative layer is actually a kind of paper, printed to look identical to hardwood flooring. This means it’s easy to recycle with the rest of the board, should anyone ever choose to install a new floor. We’re not sure why they would though, laminate flooring is extremely durable and hard wearing.
We’ve extolled the virtues of engineered wood flooring previously, yet its sustainability is worth mentioning in itself. Formed from a hardwood top layer with a softwood supporting layer, engineered wood tiles combine the aesthetic benefits of real hardwood with a lower demand for slower growing trees. Instead, planks of plywood or high-density fibreboard (HDF) are used to form the core, normally sourced from quicker growing trees such as fir or a mix of leftover timber products, similar to that used in laminate flooring.
Strangely enough, stone is actually a little less eco-friendly than laminate, mainly due to the impact of mining, cutting and transporting it to its location. That said, it’s a completely natural material and will last a lifetime (it’s lasted thousands of years up to this point). This longevity means that it pays back its ecological cost in the long term, perfect for an environmentally conscious kitchen or bathroom.
Speaking of bathrooms, why not consider rubber? It’s an unusual choice but its durability, grip and waterproof nature make it an ideal material for when stepping out of the shower. By using rubber recycled from old tyres it’s environmental impact is negligible too. It’s already been used in gyms and playgrounds and can be coloured or patterned to match a more quirky room.
An array of beautiful natural carpets are available should you want something softer underfoot. The number of materials is truly astounding, with one to match every kind of style. Jute carpets are softer than other natural fibres, giving it an extra comfort factor other carpets can only dream of matching. For unrivalled durability Sisal, Coir and Seagrass are other fibres that create beautiful, slightly coarser, carpets – great for rooms that can benefit from the warmth carpet brings, alongside the staying power of harder floors.
All these carpets come from natural plants, with the fibres being dried then woven into patterns. They come in an almost limitless array of weaving patterns and grades, meaning they don’t restrict your choice compared to synthetic carpet varieties. Woven carpets benefit from an underlay, providing support and comfort, as well as increasing the lifetime of the carpet. A compromise doesn’t have to be made in regards to its sustainability, however, with new styles created from an impressive 80% recycled rubber and automotive felt. Even the packaging is fully recyclable.
It’s difficult to go wrong with classic hardwood flooring options, a style that lends itself to any home. Whether traditional, modern, rustic or experimental there’s nowhere hardwood floor isn’t welcome. There are a few things to consider, however. As hardwood is cut from timber it’s important to source this kind of flooring responsibly, making sure it comes from sustainable forests, where trees are replanted, the soil managed and wildlife kept happy. With this in mind, look for FSC certification, a worldwide organisation that ensures forestry products are handled sustainably at every stage of production – no exceptions.
The beauty of solid wood flooring is its longevity and ability to be sanded and renovated back to its original condition after periods of wear. It can also be stained, meaning that the whole look of a room can be changed without re-flooring. This helps to offset the initial ecological cost of creating the planks.
At Hudson Flooring we’d be delighted to show you our range of sustainable flooring and underlays, including responsibly sourced, FSC certified hardwood floors. If you’d like to find out more get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.