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Green–Friendly Flooring


How "green" is your floor?
  • How was the raw material produced?
  • How far was it transported?
  • How "dirty" is the manufacturing process?
  • Were green materials used in installation?
  • Is the flooring recyclable?

"Green" flooring and floor products can help improve your home's air quality and make a positive contribution to reducing global warming. Whether you want to go green or just desire a floor surface that's toxin–free, eco-flooring can help you accomplish that and more.

A common misconception is that an eco friendly floor is more expensive, and sometimes, less attractive. The truth is there are many beautiful and fair–priced green floor options to choose from. In fact, you may be contemplating purchasing green flooring and not even know it!

For many people, green is not just a preference, it's a way of life. By choosing to buy green flooring products and materials, you can help improve the environment as well as your standard of home living.

Eco-Friendly Flooring Products


Sustainable Flooring
Types - Cork, Bamboo and linoleum

Sustainability is an important aspect to consider when looking for environmentally friendly flooring. Flooring that's considered sustainable is generally made from natural resources that constantly replenish with little to no outside assistance. Examples of materials that are considered sustainable include cork, bamboo and nearly all resources used to make linoleum flooring.

Resources Used to Make Flooring

Stone Quarries - NOT
Environmentally Friendly

The machinery and energy used to gather the raw materials is a huge part of the floor manufacturing process and should be considered when determining a product's eco–friendliness. The gathering of some natural resources, such as stone and materials used for concrete, require the use of machines that expend a massive amount of energy. Cork and latex, on the other hand, are generally sourced without machines, resulting in materials that are more environmentally–friendly.

Recycled and Reclaimed Flooring

Recycle Symbol

Nowadays, you can find a recycled variety of most floor types on the market. Eco flooring made from recycled materials can be used to make new flooring products including recycled hardwood, laminate, carpet, and tile. These products may cost more than other, because extra time and effort goes into dismantling the used product, transporting it and processing it to make new flooring. There are other plus sides of using recycled green flooring.  For example, reclaimed hardwood which has been exposed to changes in humidity a lot longer than freshly sawn hardwood pieces, are often more stable. Other less common forms of eco-friendly surfaces made from recycled products include flooring made from coconut shells, corn–based carpet and peach pit flooring.

Carbon Footprint

Illustrated Representation
of Carbon Footprint

"Carbon footprint" is defined by Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as the "effect of human activities on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases produced . . . measured in units of carbon dioxide."

The following factors contribute to a floor's carbon footprint: harvesting/mining of the materials, the manufacturing process, transportation of the finished product to its destination, and any off–gassing of the floor before, during and after installation. In some cases, the disposal of the floor at the end of its life cycle should also be considered, as this process could result in pollution and greenhouse gassing (as is the case of vinyl flooring).

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

No Volatile Organic Compounds

VOCs are chemical, carbon–based compounds that are commonly found in flooring and floor materials, as well as a number of other household buildng products including paint, cleaning supplies, glues and adhesives, and furnishings. These compounds are emitted in gas form from certain solid and liquid materials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises against long-term exposure to some VOC pollutants, as they can have short– and long–term health effects. Some symptoms that may occur as a result of VOC contact include headaches, nose and throat irritation, and even possible liver and kidney damage.

While the presence or absence of VOCs is not solely associated with determining whether or not a flooring is eco–friendly, it can play an important role. Floor types that emit an unsafe level of VOCs are not generally recognized as green as they can pollute indoor and outdoor atmospheres.


Centers for Disease Control and

Formaldehyde is considered one of the most harmful chemical compounds of the VOC family. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), long–term exposure to formaldehyde may result in increased cancer risk, while short–term contact symptoms include nosebleeds, headaches and breathing difficulty.

Formaldehyde can be found in resins, glues and permanent adhesives used to manufacture and install certain floor types. It is also a key ingredient in melamine resin, a thermoplastic material used to top off laminate flooring.

Flooring and floor products that contain zero or harmless levels of formaldehyde meet E–1 Standards, a European regulation for formaldehyde content. E–1 Standards are higher than U.S. standards and are therefore referred to more often in the flooring industry.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)

National Sanitation Foundation

In the United States, the eco–friendliness of a product is measured according to the NSF's evaluation. The NSF is a non–profit organization that is committed to providing public safety. Thanks to their attempts in creating a nationally recognized green certification program, there has been a substantial increase in sustainable floor production. The NSF assesses flooring according to the following factors:

  • Product design
  • Long–term value
  • Corporate governance
  • Innovation
  • Intelligent product manufacturing

Greenhouse Gases

Green House Gases

Greenhouse gassing is a huge concern in today's green–minded society. The major contributors of greenhouse gassing are plant fertilizers, the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. A study conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that 3 percent, or 32 million acres, of the world's forests were depleted between 1990 and 2005. This loss has led to a 30 percent annual increase in greenhouse gasses.

Does this mean we should stop cutting down trees and hardwood flooring is bad? Not necessarily; there are many ways that hardwood flooring can be green. In this "Friendly Flooring" section you can learn how to have beautiful hardwood flooring without having to sacrifice your eco–friendly lifestyle.

Green Flooring Information | Help
  • Types – Learn what choices you have for green flooring.
  • Care – See what green processes and products there are to maintain your floor.
  • FAQs – We can help answer questions you have about green flooring.
  • Flooring Buying Guides – Use our buyers guides to help you purchase your new floors.
  • Flooring Installation Guides – Let us guide you through installing your own flooring.
  • Flooring Estimator Tool – Calculate how much flooring your project requires.