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Environmental Sustainability of Hardwood Flooring

October 11th, 2018

As we begin to deplete our natural resources, more people are searching for ways to reduce their impact on the environment. This is especially prevalent in the construction industry, with the focus shifting towards the utilization of all natural and replenishable materials. One of the best materials considered to be environmentally friendly, or “green”, are lumber products. A shift among the floor covering industry has been made towards hardwood flooring products for this reason. As the focus on the environment grows, the industry must evolve, and it is important for a company to keep up with the current building practices.

Common Myths Surrounding Hardwood Products

Many people are hesitant to purchase hardwood flooring because of many different misconceptions about the environmental impact of harvesting, milling and installing this type of floor covering. One myth about wood floors is that it contributes to deforestation, but wood flooring is the most environmentally friendly flooring option available. We have the ability to renew this natural resource by utilizing sustainable forest management, and according to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, for every cubic foot of hardwood harvested, 1.66 cubic feet is regrown in its place.

Another common misconception is that cutting down trees to produce wood flooring contributes to global warming. Wood building products are actually carbon neutral as the trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during their life cycle, making up for the carbon dioxide that is produced during the manufacturing process. In addition, the production of wood flooring produces no methane, nitrogen oxide or other particulates that contribute to global warming.

Many people choose flooring materials based on longevity and investment potential and believe that traditional carpet or tile will last longer; therefore, reducing long term environmental impact. While tile is a great long-term choice for any areas susceptible to water leaks or spills, production creates harmful pollutants and is not a great environmental choice for the entire home. The production of carpet is similar in that harmful compounds are released; however, carpet does not have good longevity and must be replaced often, making it an environmentally unfriendly option. Wood flooring is not only carbon neutral and replenishable, but also an incredibly long-lasting option, making it the obvious choice for the environmentally conscious.

Benefits of Reclaimed Products

While all wood building materials are the best choice for a long lasting, durable and environmentally friendly floor covering, reclaimed products are an even better option. Reclaimed flooring materials are salvaged from structures that are centuries old, reducing the need to harvest newly grown trees and recycling materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. While there are concerns regarding the durability of such products, reclaimed material is one of the toughest that you can purchase as they have already weathered the elements and many of which are sorted for heavy heart content.

Reclaimed materials don’t always come from old structures, as is the case with Beetle Kill Blue Pine. Many times, trees are subject to infestation from insects and other creatures that damage the structure and eventually kill the tree, creating a fire risk in these areas. By salvaging the dead material, it reduces the risk of wildfire and helps to contain any infestations and prevent further spread. As an added bonus, these materials offer unique character and coloration to any building material!

Benefits of Hardwoods Inside the Home

While protecting the environment on a global scale is of critical importance, the environment of your home will affect you on a daily basis, and an unhealthy environment can become a serious risk to welfare. Hardwood flooring can be a beneficial investment to your home as it helps improve indoor air quality and cleanliness. Carpets will trap allergens, dust mites, and even bacteria, and are exceptionally difficult to fully sanitize. Households that have children or pets would benefit from hardwood flooring, and to keep the “coziness” of the room, area rugs are a far better option than wall-to-wall carpet.

A frequently asked question when determining floor coverings for a home is how easy each option is to clean, and how durable the floor will be long-term. Hardwoods can be cleaned easily on a daily basis without doing any harm, whereas carpets will begin to deteriorate after thorough cleaning. Tile is similar to hardwoods in that it is easy to clean; however, it is not a good choice for colder climates as the ceramic will retain the cold temperatures more than hardwoods. Tile is also susceptible to stains, mold and mildew in the grout lines over time, leading to other health issues.

It is clear to see why hardwoods are becoming the industry standard for floor coverings and is only increasing in popularity every year. However, if you are considering a new hardwood floor installation, you will want to have a professional assist you. The expert staff at Ward Hardwood Flooring can help you determine if hardwood is a good choice for your home and will manage your project from start to finish. Contact us today for a free estimate!