By Mark Hutchison
Style and sustainability: they can work together, right? Of course! With so many products available, it can be difficult to know which type of flooring will best suit the needs of your home, but it’s easier than ever to find an eco-friendly solution.
1. Reclaimed hardwood
Have you considered installing a floor with a story? Perhaps it was from a school, church or farmstead? Reclaimed hardwood floors come from a variety of buildings and locations across Australia and each board has its own history! Reclaimed hardwood flooring is suitable for most areas of your home and can be purchased in a wide range of styles, colours and varieties. Purchasing a darker coloured wood will add warmth to your home, while a lighter colour will brighten up your room. Depending on the textured finish, your floor could look smooth, wire-brushed, distressed or hand-scrapped, but why not keep its rustic beauty?
If you find hardwood floors are too cold or too hard on your feet, adding a floor rug can add warmth, softness and colour to your room, all the while protecting the wood underneath.
Homeowners who invest in bamboo flooring do so for its unique and eco-conscious properties. Bamboo is durable and looks great in modern or traditional spaces. The texture adds a very organic, natural and elegant feel. Bamboo flooring comes in a wide range of different shades and grains. Regardless of your existing furnishings, you will be sure to find a shade of bamboo that will match. Colours range from mellow light hues to warmer reds and browns. Complete the look with a high gloss, matte or semi-gloss finish.
Due to the speed of growth (approximately 60cm per day), bamboo is a highly sustainable flooring choice. Although it can take between 3-to-5 years to reach maturity, in comparison, trees can take up to 20 years.
Cork flooring is the ultimate in eco-chic. Made from the bark of the Cork Oak tree, this product is highly renewable. Cork can be made to mimic hardwood floors or made to look just like tiles. Think of cork as traditional and vintage to luxurious textures and shades, classic patterns and elegant finishes, artistic and modern. The options are endless.
Although cork is relatively new to the flooring market, this is a worthwhile option to consider.
Concrete isn’t typically an eco-friendly product, however it has made the list for several reasons.
Concrete that already exists in your home has no additional environmental impact and it’s ready to go! Concrete floor slabs can be hidden under flooring materials such as carpet, hardwood or tiles. But why waste resources and money to add another layer of flooring when you can simply leave the concrete exposed? Decorative techniques such as colouring, staining, stamping, stencilling and polishing allow you to create floors that mimic more traditional materials.
Green concrete uses industrial waste by-products. These products are sourced from power plants, steel mills and other manufacturing facilities and are commonly used as partial cement replacements. To make your floor look more decorative, why not consider materials such as recycled crushed glass or plastic, marble chips, metal shavings and seashells for a truly unique look?
5. Natural stone
Natural stone isn’t renewable like cork, however it can be considered eco-friendly due to its durability. Carpet will last anywhere up to 10 years, wooden floors approximately 50 years, while natural stone will last a lifetime. It will even withstand fire! Stone comes in an array of colours and textures including granite, limestone, marble and slate. No two stones are alike, which adds to its unique, elegant and timeless appeal.
Natural stone is strong and hardwearing which makes it perfect for areas that attract high foot traffic and is also beneficial for anyone who suffers from airborne allergies, as dust and allergens are unable to build up on its surface.
–Mark Hutchison is managing director of Bamboozle, Perth’s leading bamboo flooring provider.