There used to be just a few flooring choices to make when buying a new home or updating an existing one, but new technologies and discoveries have given us more, cheaper, and more eco-friendly flooring options. Updating the floors in a home is still one of the biggest bangs for the buck, and with fewer bucks to go around, its nice to know there's more to choose from than just carpet and vinyl.
While there have been some advancements in reducing the environmental and health hazards associated with traditional carpets and PVC flooring, many flooring companies have begun to respond to demands for other, more sustainable, health- and eco-conscious materials. Among those that make the list are hardwoods, ceramic and porcelain tiles, laminates, and new carpet technologies. But there are a few that rise to the top when it comes to the finding the magic combination of environmental sustainability, human health promotion, and affordability. Bamboo, Cork, and Palm woods seem to fit the bill quite well.
Palm wood planks have a smooth, hard surface similar to hardwood flooring, and can be made without the use of formaldehyde. Old, non-coconut-producing trees are purchased from coconut farmers, so harvesting is a low-impact operation. Palm planks are available in a wide variety of color options like the traditional woods.
Bamboo can also be certified to be harvested responsibly, and is a cost-effective, self-sustaining resource. Bamboo is incredibly durable (especially when pressed) and has a smooth, glossy appearance. It can be stained like other woods, too.
Cork is a remarkable flooring resource. Naturally hypo-allergenic and anti-microbial, cork wood is live-harvested (that is, the bark is taken without killing the tree), and because of its structure has a warmth and cushion you wont find in any other natural wood product. It possesses sound-dampening qualities as well, and can be stained to match a homes decor.
Also worth mentioning are the new environmentally sustainable hardwoods, as well as some ingenious, eco-friendly and affordable laminates, and new types of linoleum. In the current economy, it is daunting to imagine finding a floor that suits your home, your wallet, AND your conscience, but with all of these new products to consider, you might just run across something you love.