Building a Green Home from the Ground Up - Best Green Flooring Options

Best Green Flooring - Stone Flooring

Stone FlooringStone Flooring

Stone is a natural and durable resource.  Choose locally or domestically mined and fabricated stone to avoid transport-related energy use and pollution.  You should opt for stone that does not have to be sealed, but if you do use a sealer, use a low VOC product.  Stone flooring is easy to clean and highly durable.  Unfortunately, the main drawback is that stone is a finite resource.  Also, mining and fabricating stone requires a great deal of energy-use.  Stone flooring can cost you between $3 - 10 per square foot.

Best Green Flooring - Tile Flooring

Tile FlooringTile Flooring

A highly durable material, tile is often made from recycled content, but you should again look for locally manufactured products.  Tile is also very easy to clean.  Like stone flooring, tile too requires a great deal of energy to produce.  It generally costs $1 - 6 per square foot and is recommended for your kitchen, bathroom, entryway, or fireplace.

Best Green Flooring - Wood Flooring

FSC Certified Wood FlooringFSC Certified Wood Flooring

Wood is a natural, renewable resource which is fairly durable.  Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood or salvaged/reclaimed wood.  Also, ask your retailer for a chain-of-custody certification.  As always, avoid sealers with high VOCs and added formaldehyde, although wood does contain some natural formaldehyde. Wood flooring will run you $3-6 per square foot and is ideal for most rooms in the home.

Natural oil-based stains and water-based finishes.

Eco-Friendly Floor Stains & FinishesEco-Friendly Floor Stains & Finishes

Water-based stains are great for small projects, but covering an entire floor with a water-based stain won't work well.  Natural oil stains derived from plants can be costly, but they are free of the many chemicals contained in acrylic and urethane stains, which the USGBC Green Home Guide claims can pose potential dangers.  However, oil-based as well as water-based finishes, are great to use for floors.  The site contends that water-based finishes available on the market now wear well and are easy to apply.  Most importantly they produce low emissions.  Although all finishes do contain some toxic chemicals, these are still safer than the alternatives.  Oil finishes may need more frequent reapplying or have lingering odors, but are still more eco-friendly than synthetic urethane finishes.

Dispose of unused products and applicators properly.

Stains and Finishes are Hazardous MaterialsStains and Finishes are Hazardous Materials

All materials used when staining and finishing flooring should be treated as hazardous materials, and this includes sponges, rags, and applicators.   Also consider that many of these materials are highly flammable.

I look forward to bringing you more about building with a green ethic.

Sources: Green Home Guide

Amanda Hinski
Environmental Innovations Blogger