Wood has long been a favorite flooring material for its timeless beauty, illustrious nature, and sustainability. Because of its biodegradability, a natural resource like wood will always be kinder to the Earth than synthetic materials. Plus, forest management organizations like the U.S. Forest Service uphold laws regulating proper reforestation and sustainability practices in the timber industry. In other words, deforestation is not a major concern since trees are replanted to account for harvesting. If you’re captivated by the look and feel of wood floors, consult with local experts like this Asheville flooring store to get an idea of which of these wood-based materials are available and affordable to you.
Oak is one of the most eco-friendly species available for hardwood flooring as long as it is sourced from a manufacturer certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Aside from being a renewable and biodegradable resource, oak also has a significantly smaller carbon footprint since the manufacturing process produces less toxic waste. If at some point you need to replace your floors, upcycled oak can even be resold as raw material for furniture. At the very least, it is perfectly safe to burn oak as firewood. The best part about oak hardwood is that it will remain durable for at least 100 years as long as it is well-maintained.
Pine also lasts for generations if properly kept. Because it is so prolific, pine can be sourced locally, cutting out any need for cross-country or international shipping. As a result, its carbon footprint also tends to be on the smaller side. Pine has a slight advantage over oak in that its trees take 25-30 years to grow to maturity, as opposed to 30-40 years. The downside is that softwood is generally less durable than hardwood. Though it may be more prone to dents and scratches, its soft nature also makes it much easier to sand down and refinish.
Cork is another type of softwood like pine, yet it doesn’t require cutting down an entire tree. Only the bark is used to create cork flooring. As a result, cork oak trees can be harvested over and over for up to 250 years. Alternatively, cork flooring may also be made from recycled materials, such as the cork plug used to stop off wine bottles. Plus, cork is highly anti-microbial, anti-fungal and hypo-allergenic, and its superior insulation can potentially save you money on heating and cooling. Remarkable superpowers such as these set cork slightly ahead of other options.
Some wood species are less environmentally friendly than others. Still, you may have already made up your mind and grown attached to wood like walnut, cherry, or maple. Instead of purchasing these hardwoods brand new, try looking for a reclaimed hardwood product. Reclaimed wood has been upcycled from old wooden structures like barns, furniture, warehouses and ships. It often possesses a distinct character, rich with the kind of history and textural depth you won’t find in newer hardwood. Depending on the age of its source, your reclaimed wood may have originally come from old-growth trees, which are now protected by law and no longer available in the lumber market. The Earth and the forests will thank your choice to reuse wood that has already been chopped down and processed.
Wood is arguably one of the most beautiful flooring materials available. Thankfully, you don’t have to sacrifice your ethical interests to have it in your home. The manufacturing process of wood requires far less energy and fewer resources compared to many other flooring materials. Wood is also easily recycled and sourced locally. Typically, it can last for generations, and when the time eventually comes for the wood to be thrown out, the raw material is biodegradable and non-toxic to the environment. For these reasons, oak, pine, cork and reclaimed hardwood are excellent choices for home flooring that keep the planet’s health in mind.