by Lauren Busser The House Designers’ Contributing Writer
You might be obsessing over furniture and paint, but have you thought about what will be beneath your feet in your new home? With the number of choices available to you it may be challenging to make a decision as to what will work best in your home. There are the usual hardwoods but there are also some intriguing new options like bamboo and cork, each with ecological and economic benefits. Here's a look at some of the exciting and interesting flooring materials on the market right now.
Hardwood flooring may not sound like the most eco-friendly option, but new sustainable forest management has made it possible to harvest enough wood for a floor without a negative impact on the environment. Also since trees are a renewable resource, they can be replaced time and time again.
Wood flooring comes with many benefits, such as better indoor air quality and the ability to be recycled or repurposed at the end of its useful life. These natural materials can last hundreds of years and won't need to be replaced as often as other flooring options, possibly never.
When it comes to 'green' flooring, cork is really hard to beat. Cork is a natural tree bark material which is periodically harvested from the cork oak tree, which is then replaced by a new growth layer leaving the tree unharmed. Although it has been used in Spain, Portugal, and Tunisia for centuries it gained popularity in America due to its beauty, durability, and its green qualities.
Cork is a surprisingly durable material that resists cracking and abrasions. It is also very quiet and comfortable to walk on and it bounces back so that any indentations left by furniture won’t be permanent. When properly cared for, a cork floor can last forty years or more. As an added bonus, cork can improve your home's health. It resists mold, mildew, and termites and is also anti-microbial making it ideal for moisture prone, high traffic areas like the kitchen or bath.
Laminate flooring is versatile, easy to maintain and reasonably priced. Today’s laminate flooring can simulate the look of dozens of natural hardwood materials, natural stone, or even ceramic tile. It is also easy to install and care for and can be placed directly over almost any existing flooring.
One of the drawbacks to laminate flooring is that it can’t be refinished. Laminate flooring has a single, top color layer and if it is worn through or deeply scratched it can't be repaired. Over time the wear layer will degrade and like any flooring, scratches will begin to appear. The useful lifespan of laminate is dependent on the quality of materials used, and rises and falls with price as expected. While most laminate floors come with decent warranties you have to be sure to read the terms and conditions so that precautions can be taken to prevent accidently voiding the warranty.
If you like natural surfaces you might be attracted to a bamboo floor. With many of the same properties as hardwood flooring it's got many of the same benefits. Bamboo is derived from the bamboo plant, a natural resource able to grow to maturity in three to five years, much faster than hardwood trees which take upwards of twenty years to mature.
In a world of growing eco-awareness bamboo is a trend in the construction industry now and is a very stylish choice for a home. But choosing bamboo for your floors isn’t purely a stylistic choice. Bamboo is extremely strong, hard and durable. Natural bamboo that is properly harvested and manufactured into flooring is just as durable as red oak and strand woven bamboo can be manufactured to be even harder than that. This makes bamboo ideal for the main walkways in your home and especially places like the kitchen and anywhere you are going to entertain guests.
Proper selection of flooring for your home may appear to be somewhat daunting but with a little time and research you will be sure to find options that compliment your taste and lifestyle. Take a look at the array of flooring options offered by our friends at Lumber Liquidators® for ideas and inspiration.