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Is Wood Flooring Environmentally Friendly?

In recent years more and more emphasis is being put on climate change and environmentally friendly and sustainable products.  People are keen to play their part by recycling household waste, conserving water and energy and even trying to create eco-friendly homes. When it comes to flooring, it is often thought that wood is not a ‘green’ choice as it means destroying forests and ruining farmers livelihoods.  This is certainly not the case. Hardwood flooring can be sustainable and much kinder to the environment that first thought.  If you are looking for a truly environmentally friendly flooring option, then check with your supplier about the origins and sustainability of the wood.

Some suppliers have been awarded the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate for certain floors.  This means that every part and person who has helped to create the wood flooring has been checked to make sure they are treating the environment responsibly.  This includes the farmer, manufacturer, transportation agency and the retailer.  If you see the FSC logo, you can rest assured you are purchasing a truly eco-friendly floor.

FSC Logo and Certification FSC Logo and Certification

Is wood a renewable resource?

Yes, wood is a renewable resource if it is harvested and managed correctly. Trees can be continually reproduced making them a sustainable material.  With modern progressions in farming and forestry management, trees that are used for flooring or furniture should be immediately replaced so that the same amount of trees remain.  This however, is only the case for responsibly managed forests. Please be aware that there is still a lot of illegal logging taking place which can be extremely detrimental to the environment.

Well managed forests, which replace trees, can actually benefit the environment.  Younger trees can produce more oxygen than older trees as they are able to absorb more carbon dioxide.  This helps to improve the atmospheric output of the area of forestland.

A good quality hardwood floor, that is looked after a cared for correctly can last a lifetime.  This means that the chances are, you will not need to replace the floor at all.  Compare this to carpet that would need replacing every five to ten years, or a synthetic floor covering (laminate or vinyl) that again would need replacing more often that hardwood.  The longevity of hardwood floors, helps to make them even more sustainable as you should never need to replace them.  Have a look at our care and maintenance guide for more details.

FSC 100% Engineered Rustic Oak Flooring FSC 100% Engineered Rustic Oak Flooring

 

What is the FSC?

The easiest way to tell if you are buying a sustainable wood floor, is by looking for the FSC certification.  FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council.  The FSC is a global organisation that works independently to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. It not only looks after the forests but also the local communities and native wildlife.

A certification system is used to provide internationally recognised standards, procedures and quality assurance.  This applies to all the forest owners, farmers, manufacturers and retailers involved in the chain of production of the wood.  Each member of the chain of production has to be closely monitored and audited to ensure they are complying within the requirements of the FSC.  Only then will a certain product be given an FSC certification.  The auditing process is ongoing and certification can be taken away if there is any misconduct.  Looking for the FSC logo is the only way of ensuring you are buying a truly sustainable and eco-friendly product.

Some of our Engineered Oak Flooring range is truly environmentally friendly and has been certified FSC 100%.

FSC 100% Engineered Weathered Beam Rustic Oak Flooring FSC 100% Engineered Weathered Beam Rustic Oak Flooring

 

Are some hardwoods more sustainable than others?

Yes some woods are more sustainable that others but it is not really that straight forward.  It is always best to look for the FSC certification to ensure the floor you are buying is eco-friendly.

Generally speaking the rarer the tree species, the less sustainable it is.  Oak is a relatively common tree species and often grown especially for harvesting.  This makes it a sustainable hardwood if responsible forestry management is taking place. Similarly with Pine, which is used a lot in the furniture trade. Some more exotic woods such as Teak or Mahogany are more difficult to establish.  Certain countries produce FSC certified Teak and Mahogany, but others take advantage of the illegal logging trade and export the wood unlawfully.

Bamboo is an extremely renewable and sustainable resource which is commonly used for flooring now.  Bamboo is not actually classed as timber as it is a grass.  It grows at a much faster rate than hardwood trees and self regenerates after a harvest.  Meaning that the root does not need to be replanted. It is becoming more and more popular, especially as an eco-friendly flooring material.  Bamboo can also be monitored and certified by the FSC, so be sure to look out for their logo before you purchase.

Another alternative for sustainable hardwood is to use reclaimed wood.  The most common types of reclaimed wood flooring are Pine or Oak.  They offer a timeless, characteristic and genuinely sustainable floor. Knowing that you are using recycled hardwood is probably one of the best ways to ensure it is truly environmentally friendly.  Reclaimed wood does come at a price though. The wood has been carefully cleaned, restored and refinished and can be quite costly compared to new hardwood.

FSC 100% Engineered Fired Brick Rustic Oak Flooring FSC 100% Engineered Fired Brick Rustic Oak Flooring

 

Is engineered hardwood flooring more sustainable than solid hardwood?

If you are really concerned about the amount of wood being used for your flooring, why not think about using engineered hardwood.  The manufacturing process is very efficient.  Less hardwood is used, but you are still getting a natural floor covering.  The best part is, that engineered wood flooring is more versatile and stable that solid wood flooring, and you can barely tell them apart once they have been installed.

 

How can I help my wood flooring to be even more eco-friendly?

Once you have chosen your floor and made sure it is from a sustainable resource, there are extra things that you can do to continue to protect the environment.  Your actual wood flooring is only one part of a larger process.  You will need to think about its transportation from the supplier to you, the products you will use to install the flooring, the old flooring you will be getting rid of, and how you are going to clean and look after your new floor.  All of these things can affect the environment and are definitely worth thinking about.

Firstly, think about how the flooring will get from your supplier to your home.  Make sure that the delivery vehicle has eco-friendly credentials. Be mindful that some older vans and lorries can have high carbon footprints which are often detrimental to the environment.

Once you have your flooring at home, you will need to think about how to install it.  Think about which products you will need to use.  Whichever method of installation you have chosen is likely to involve either underlay or adhesive.  Be sure to ask your supplier about eco-friendly options.

If your old floor is removed and replaced by your new hardwood you will need to be aware of its disposal.  Most cities have ‘Household Waste and Recycling Centres’ so make sure you dispose of your old floor in the correct manner.

Finally, once your new floor has been installed, you will want to keep it looking its best.  Some cleaning products can be very harsh on the environment so be sure to make sound decisions. Choose a product that is safe for the environment that contains natural materials.

FSC 100% Engineered Foundry Steel Oak Flooring FSC 100% Engineered Foundry Steel Oak Flooring

Top Tips to finding environmentally friendly hardwood flooring

  • Be sure to use wood that has come from well managed forests

 

  • Look out for the FSC logo for the product that you want to buy

 

  • Ask your supplier about the product and how sustainable it is

 

  • Think about how you will look after your floor in an eco-friendly way

 

Any type of wood can be part of the illegal logging trade and deforestation.  This practice is extremely detrimental to the environment and surrounding villages.  The best advice is to talk to your supplier and ask about FSC certified woods.

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