Sustainable flooring is produced from sustainable materials (and by a sustainable process) that reduces demands on ecosystems during its life-cycle. This includes harvest, production, use and disposal. It is thought that sustainable flooring creates safer and healthier buildings and guarantee a future for traditional producers of renewable resources that many communities depend on. Several initiatives have led the charge to bring awareness of sustainable flooring as well as and healthy buildings (air quality).[1][2][3] Below are examples of available, though less well-known, eco-friendly flooring options.[4][5][6][7]

Bamboo flooring Edit

Bamboo flooring is made from a fast growing renewable timber (technically grass). It is natural anti-bacterial, water-resistant and extremely durable. DIY installation is easy, as bamboo flooring is available with tongue-and-groove technology familiar in hardwood/laminate alternatives. Bamboo flooring is often more expensive than laminate, though it is generally cheaper than traditional hardwood flooring. Some bamboo floors are less sustainable than others, as they contain the toxic substance formaldehyde (rather than natural-base adhesives). [8]

Some bamboo flooring is not so green as local forests are being clear cut to make room for this wonder grass. This is creating a monoculture where there used to be forests and grasslands. Although bamboo does not need much fertilizer to grow, some are using fertilizers to maximize their harvest of it, slowly turning this from a green flooring alternative to just another eco-hazardous flooring material. It must also not be forgotten that most bamboo floor panels contain formaldehyde binders.

Cork Flooring Edit

Cork flooring is made by removing the bark of the Cork Oak (Quercus Suber) without harming the tree (if harvested correctly); it is a truly renewable resource. It is naturally anti-microbial and has excellent insulation properties, ensuring minimal heat loss and comfortable warm walking surface. Cork is resilient and ‘springs back’ preventing imprints due to heavy traffic and furniture, it also provides excellent noise insulation. Cork is low in volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions, however it is important to check the finish applied. Cork is not suitable for bathrooms, as it absorbs moisture.[9][10]

Linoleum Edit

Linoleum is made from dried and milled flax seeds mixed with other plant material (pine resins, wood flour, ground cork) with a jute backing, all completely natural materials which come from renewable sources and are 100% biodegradable. All by products and waste is milled and used. Linoleum does not fade, as the pigments are embedded in the structure. It is anti-static, repelling dirt, dust and other small particles, making it hypoallergenic – for this reason it is often used by people with respiratory issues (asthma, allergies). It is also fire-resistant and does not require additional fire-retardants finish. [11]

Rubber Flooring Edit

Rubber flooring is made from a rubber tree, a 100% renewable resource. It is easy to install and maintain, is anti-static and provides effective sound insulation and vibration reduction. Rubber flooring is also resistant to fading and cigarette burns. Some rubber flooring is made from synthetic rubber, this is not a sustainable product. [12]

Natural and Recycled Carpet Edit

There are carpets that are sustainable, using natural fibers such as sisal, wool, jute and coconut husk. It is also possible to have carpet made completely from recycled polyethylene terephthalate used for food/drink containers. This is sustainable and it reduces material sent to landfill; further it uses dyeing methods that are less polluting and require less energy than other flooring. This flooring is sustainable when used alongside eco-friendly adhesive as some products may have toxic finishes added (stain/fire proofing) that are not considered to be sustainable.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. Forest Stewardship Council, FSC
  2. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, PEFC
  3. Sustainable Forestry Initiative, SFI
  4. Luetdke A. (2002). Floor coverings, dust and airborne contaminants. Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
  5. DEFRA. (2009). What is sustainable development?. Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
  6. Brenda&Robert Vale (2000), The new Autonomous house, Thames &Hudson
  7. DEFRA. (2008). Consumer products and the environment: green labels and claims . Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
  8. BuildingGreen. (2008). Bamboo Flooring . Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
  9. Halliday, S. (2008). Sustainable Construction.Elsevier.
  10. Rainforest Alliance. (2005). Put a Sustainable Cork in It. Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009.
  11. Sustainability at work. (2007). Carillion - Sustainability and flooring - linoleum vs vinyl. Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
  12. Eco Reports. (2009). Dalsouple Rubber Flooring. Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009.
  13. ED+C. (2005). What’s New in Sustainable Flooring? . Available: Last accessed 16th May 2009
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