Your home’s floor will not only affect the design and feel of the space. It can also affect your health, and that of your family, and have an impact on the environment.
The decision about what to use for your floors, or what to replace them with, is an important one as usually, you will not change the floors in your home very often over the years.
The issue of sustainability must now also be considered, and this includes the floor surfaces and whatever you cover them with, such as decorative rugs.
The range of materials and colour options for floors are now huge. Thankfully, the sustainable options are also growing.
The range of materials for floors are now huge … and the sustainable options are growing.
When you’re considering floors, think about who lives in your home and the areas you spend most time in.
How much foot traffic is a room or passageway going to have and how much will it need to withstand? If you have young children, pets or people with health conditions such as asthma, these things will also influence your choices.
Finally, you need to think about how much time you want to spend cleaning and maintaining your floors.
5 sustainable flooring options
1. Sustainable carpet
If you are keen on carpets, wool, sisal, and jute are great choices.
There are now carpet companies that actively reduce carpet’s impact on the environment. There is even one that uses recycled carpet backing, which results in more than 1200 tonnes of waste carpet being diverted away from landfill each year.
Recycled carpet tiles are another alternative for people looking for carpets. They divert 600ml drink bottles from landfill and you then also have the option of an eco-friendly underlay.
Bamboo flooring is a sustainable alternative to timber floors and is now widely available. Bamboo is actually a grass that shares similar characteristics as hardwood. It’s durable, easy to maintain, easy to install and it looks great.
Bamboo is sustainable because it is very fast growing, reaching maturity in three to five years. Bamboo is a light material and you can find it in a variety of colours to match your décor.
3. Polished concrete
Polished concrete floors are increasingly popular and it can be an excellent environmentally friendly flooring material, particularly when manufactured out of recycled materials.
Polished concrete has long life cycles and is energy efficient. It improves indoor environmental quality and there are endless design options. Concrete floors can be not just functional but also aesthetically beautiful – and they are excellent for trapping and releasing heat.
4. Recycled timber
Second-hand and recycled products are also an option. Recycled and reclaimed timbers are now being used more widely for flooring. You can find a range of salvage yards and specialty recycled timber companies, and reclaimed timbers can be extremely beautiful.
5. Natural lino
Natural lino products (not to be confused with vinyl) are a great choice. Lino is a durable, long-lasting floor covering made from a renewable resource that is biodegradable. It can be swept, which reduces the need for water, power or chemicals for cleaning. Lino can be dried easily and is great for wet areas, preventing the build-up of mould and mildew.
Consider what lies beneath
One of the main sources of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are often overlooked is carpet backings and underlays.
Make sure that what you have underneath your natural flooring option is also non-toxic and comes from a sustainable, renewable source.
Decorate with sustainable rugs
Usually having a fairly neutral floor, and then adding rugs, is one of the best ways to allow your decorating diva to come out – without busting the bank.
And the choice in fair trade and eco-friendly rugs and materials is now large. The choice in fair trade and eco-friendly rugs and materials is now large.
You can find a range of recycled plastic rugs which feel amazingly soft. Rag rugs and those made from recycled cotton are also lovely.
You can even have a go at making one yourself. Wool is a sustainable material, so choosing a woolen rug is a great sustainable option.
Along with wool, natural fibres such as hemp, jute and sisal are not only beautiful underfoot and lovely to look at, but offer strong sustainable aspects.