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Review of Flooring Types

By Edited Apr 14, 2016 1 0

reclaimed broadleaf elm flooring

Deciding which type of flooring to buy is not easy. There are some many types of flooring to choose from and they all have different implications for the environment, your wallet and for your health. In this article I will outline these implications to show why reclaimed hardwood flooring is the best.

Firstly, there is carpeting. It was previously a popular choice of flooring material, but now less so because carpets collect allergens that cause people who suffer from allergies discomfort. Carpets can be expensive. They wear out, get stained and marked and the patterns they show will often not stand the test of time in terms of fashion.

Then there is laminate flooring which is basically plastic that has a surface made to look like wood or stone. Laminate flooring looks cheap and it is. It is often made of a melamine resin compound that contains the volatile organic compound formaldehyde that can cause respiratory problems and allergies.

A better choice is engineered wood flooring. It is a natural material that is allergen free and long lasting. The main problem is that it is not long lasting enough. It is made with a thin strip of hardwood laid over a plywood heart to the flooring plank. The thin layer of hardwood can only stand a couple of sands before it is too thin and the plywood shows through.

Even better is strand woven bamboo flooring which is dense, hard and very long-lasting. Sanding is not a problem because the colour is the same throughout the flooring plank. It is more environmentally friendly than hardwood flooring because bamboo reaches maturity in seven years or less. This incredible growth rate makes bamboo a renewable resource. Strand woven bamboo flooring looks like hardwood and has the same benefits as hardwood flooring. Namely, that it looks good; is hard and durable; and is allergen free. The only environmental downside to strand woven bamboo flooring is that it is made with a low VOC adhesive rather than a VOC free adhesive. And that commercial bamboo production mostly takes place in China. Behind the iron rice bowl there is very little in terms of fair trade programs to guarantee farmers fair pay or environmental certification to guarantee that forests weren't clear cut to grow bamboo.

And this is the problem with hardwood flooring. Hardwood trees are being cut down to make it. An acre and a half of rain forest is lost every second to loggers. The loggers are continually pushing further into forests to look for exotic hardwoods for the European and American markets. Much of this new growth hardwood is made into flooring.

The best alternative is to recycle the hardwood that has already been taken from the forests. All the time houses are refurbished or demolished. This produces a lot of unwanted hardwood. Park waste includes re-usable hardwood. Landfill sites, building waste, mine shafts and torn down barns all produce hardwood waste. Hardwood timber can be brought up from the bottom of rivers and lakes. The hardwood is kiln dried and milled into flooring planks. The resulting reclaimed hardwood flooring or antique hardwood flooring is just as hard, strong and durable as standard hardwood flooring, but crucially it is recycled hardwood. This means no new trees were chopped down to make the flooring. The fact that reclaimed hardwood can be sourced locally means that carbon input is kept to a minimum. This makes reclaimed hardwood flooring the best flooring in terms of look, strength, cost and environmental friendliness.

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