With increasing concerns about the impact of flooring products on the environment, many people are switching to more environmentally friendly solutions. These are typically nontoxic and recyclable but still serve their purpose effectively. Here are several tips to help you find a floor that’s not only right for your needs but also kinder to the environment.
1. Choose durable products
Manufacturing products typically consume a lot of energy, and this is true of flooring products as well. They also leave wastes and emit dangerous fumes. Thankfully, all these can be minimized by getting a product that can last several years without needing to be replaced.
2. Go for low-maintenance materials
Thanks to the wide array of building materials on the market, you can find materials that require very low maintenance, if any, to give you service for years. You’ll be painting, re-treating, waterproofing, and polishing less often, which will not only help you save money, but can also benefit the environment.
3. Buy products made from recycled material
Advancement in technology has allowed manufacturers to create products using lumber, hardware, millwork, various plumbing fixtures, and other salvaged materials. And, by using such products for your project, you help cut down on the amount of natural resources consumed in the manufacturing process as well as reduce landfill pressure. You should, however, not compromise on safety. Make sure the materials you’re using are safe for human beings.
4. Get local products
Buying products and materials produced in your area will help save on energy and minimize pollution that’s often associated with transportation. You can find products that match or even beat imported products in terms of quality.
5. Avoid materials that emit gas pollutants
Some of the products and materials used for building purposes are known to release volatile organic chemicals into the atmosphere. Examples include solvent-based finishes, carpeting, and particleboard. When inhaled, these compounds can seriously affect the health of workers and occupants. They also contribute to depletion of the ozone and lead to smog in our cities. The trick is to research and find materials that don’t emit harmful gases during installation or over time.
6. Choose your wood supplies wisely
Another tip on finding a floor that’s environmentally sound and healthy is to select responsible wood supplies. As a rule of thumb, only use lumber obtained from independently certified and well-managed forests. In addition, steer away from lumber products that are created from old growth material especially where there’s an acceptable alternative.
If possible, you can substitute engineered wood (which can bring up health concerns especially if made from cheap material), with old growth products such as Douglas fir. Also, don’t purchase tropical hardwoods if the seller cannot provide proof that the wood comes from well managed forests.
7. Use less pressure-treated lumber
Pressure-treated lumber is no doubt one of the most widely used building products, but it has several cons. First, it often has toxic material in it which can be hazardous to one’s health. You have to take safety measures to protect the crew working on your project when cutting and handling this type of wood.
Second, because of the toxic material it contains, it can be quite difficult to dispose of. This explains why it’s not regarded as an environmentally friendly product. You should instead use detailing, which is effective in preventing soil contact as well as rot. You can even go for alternatives like recycled plastic lumber, if possible.
8. Minimize packaging waste
You can cut down on packaging waste by avoiding over-packaged products such as fasteners. Inform your supplier in advance why you’re doing this. You should, however, keep in mind that certain products need to be carefully packaged to minimize damage and resulting waste.
9. Use recycled building materials
If possible, make use of salvaged lumber and other materials instead of getting new supplies from a local store. This may help reduce the amount of wasts and, in turn, lower landfill pressure. Before using any salvaged material, make sure they’re tested for asbestos and lead paint.
10. Use low embodied energy materials
These use less energy as well as fewer resources to manufacture, transport, and build. They are good for the environment as fewer non-renewable resources are used and less greenhouse gas is produced. Examples include concrete blocks and recycled materials.