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Sustainable flooring ideas for your home

Flooring ideas to help you lower the environmental impact of your project

By Hugh Metcalf | 10 March 2020

If you’re trying to create your very own eco-home, the devil is in the detail. Cost and durability may be high on your agenda, but this doesn’t need to be at the expense of environmentally friendly options. Consider these sustainable flooring ideas to help lower the impact of your self-build or renovation.

architectural living room with wool carpet - grand designs

Photo: Elements London

Sustainable wool carpet

Wool is a great option if you’re looking for sustainable carpet – not only is it naturally occurring and biodegradable, it’s naturally stain-resistant, soft and doesn’t release VOCs into your home, unlike some synthetic counterparts, improving your home’s indoor air quality.

sustainable flooring: kersaint cobb natural carpet

Photo: Kersaint Cobb

Woven natural fibres

Natural fibres such as sisal, jute, coir and seagrass are naturally biodegradable, and largely don’t use pesticides or fertilisers in the production process and rely on natural rainfall over intensive irrigation systems. Sisal is popular in particular – it’s super hardwearing, making it great for carpets and rugs, while retaining a softness that the likes of coir don’t possess.

Sustainably sourced wood

To limit the damage that your choice of wood flooring does to the environment, look for certification that the wood has been sourced from responsibly managed forests. FSC accreditation is a good measure for the UK market.

You may also want to consider your choice of varnishes, oils and adhesives, and the effects this may have on your home’s indoor air quality.

kitchen with large sustainable wooden flooring - grand designs

Photo: Dineson

Reclaimed flooring

Not only do reclaimed wood flooring and tiles have a beautiful natural patina, it also keeps them out of landfill and gives these materials a second life, making reclaimed pieces one fo the best sustainable flooring ideas. There are some things to consider, such as ensuring that flooring has been ethically sourced and not stolen – find out more about how to avoid this in our guide to reclaimed flooring.

reclaimed wood flooring in a kitchen - grand designs

Photo: Ted Todd

Cork

Cork is an organic, renewable product which has many desirable qualities, including acting as a natural sound- and thermal-insulator. Look out for flooring brands who make use of waste materials from larger cork industry, such as wine stopper manufacturing, for a doubly-green option.

natural cork flooring in contemporary home - grand designs

Photo: Wicanders

Linoleum

Modern day linoleum calls to mind vinyl flooring made from non-biodegradable plastic, however, natural linoleum is actually made from a mix linseed oil and a number of other organic materials that may also be byproducts of other industries. It’s also super durable, with products such as Marmoleum given a lifespan of as long as 40 years.


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