Cork is relatively new to the flooring world. It is usually seen on walls or in your favorite bottle of wine, but it is great material for floors. Cork is harvested from the bark of the cork oak tree commonly found in the forests of the Mediterranean. The trees are not cut down to harvest the bark, which will grow back every three years, making it an ideal renewable source. It has anti-microbial properties that reduce allergens in the home, is fire retardant, easy to maintain and acts as a natural insect repellent too. Cork, like wood can be finished in a variety of paints and stains to suit any color scheme or design style. Its durability allows for uses in any part of the house. Cork floors, depending on the quality, can last between 10-30 years.
Bamboo flooring is another wood like option that is gaining in popularity. It is actually a grass that shares similar characteristics as hardwood. It is durable, easy to maintain and is easy to install. Bamboo is sustainable and made from natural vegetation that grows to maturity in three to five years, far less than the twenty years trees can take. Bamboo, while usually very light, is available in many hues that will work in any setting or decor. Its varied grains and wide array of colors give it an edge over traditional flooring by allowing for customization not often found elsewhere.
When one thinks of linoleum flooring, vinyl tends to come to mind and yet the two are nowhere close to each other. Vinyl is a synthetic made of chlorinated petrochemicals that are harmful. Linoleum is created from a concoction of linseed oil, cork dust, tree resins, wood flour, pigments and ground limestone. Like cork, it is fire retardant and water resistant. Linoleum is not new to the market; it fell out of favor with the introduction of vinyl in the 1940’s. As architects and designers began asking for it again, it reemerged with a vast array of bright vibrant colors and a new sealer to protect it from stains. It has a long shelf life and will hold up to a lot of wear and tear.
4. GLASS TILES
Ever wonder what happens to the wine bottles and beer bottles that are shipped to the recycler? They are converted into beautiful glass tiles. This renewable source is fast becoming a wonderful option for floors as well as bathroom and kitchen walls. Glass has similar benefits of other eco-friendly materials. It is non-absorptive and won’t mildew or mold in damp environments. It is easy to maintain and won’t stain. Glass comes in a limitless array of colors, patterns and finishes suitable for most design schemes. Unlike ceramic tiles, glass will reflect light rather than absorb it, adding that additional layer of light some rooms need.
Polished concrete is an unlikely sustainable material that is gaining in popularity. Concrete is typically slab on grade and used as a sub flooring in some residential settings. If it is polished and tinted to the homeowners taste and style there is no need for traditional flooring to be put over it. From creating a tiled effect with different colors to inlaying other materials such as glass the design possibilities are endless. Concrete is extremely durable, easy to clean and never needs to be replaced.