Choosing hardwood flooring can be overwhelming. There are endless suppliers out there, each offering a variety of hardwood flooring options. There's solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, unfinished, pre-finished, wide plank, antiqued, distressed, hand-scraped. And it's available in maple, oak, cherry, alder, birch, fir....in what seems like a thousand different color options and ten different finishes. Now, add to that the desire to make your flooring "Eco-friendly" and you're probably ready to leave the sub floor exposed and forget the whole thing. Fear not. There are plenty of flooring manufacturers who practice responsible flooring manufacturing methods including sourcing their raw materials from responsibly managed forests.
Mercier Hardwood Flooring: As one of the largest flooring producers in North America, Mercier makes products that are widely available through flooring retailers. The company has been certified by three independent forestry groups: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), The Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative for its products as well as chain of supply and manufacturing methods. Not only does the wood come from managed forests, the varnish used on their refinished hardwood floors gives off zero formaldehyde emissions, exceeding LEED standards. Visit Mercier's website to find a retailer near you.
Kahrs: A Swedish company with operations around the world, Kahrs selects suppliers who have been approved by either the FSC, PEFC and/or the International Tropical Timber Organization. During the fabrication process, waste is minimized as the leftover timber cuts are used to heat heat homes located near the factories and the resultant ash is used as fertilizer for forests. Visit Kahrs' website to find a retailer near you.
Torlys: A Canadian company, Torlys supplies hardwood flooring is engineered and pre-finished. The benefits of engineered hardwood are: 30 times more flooring can be produced from a single tree, while wood is sourced from responsible managed forests. The floor adapts to weather and humidity changes better than solid wood. The floor can be installed by the homeowner as it snaps together, it can be walked on during installation, and disassembled and reused up to three times. Visit Torlys website to find a retailer near you.
Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring: If you're after a more weathered or antique look, reclaimed flooring is another option. Look for companies in your region that specialize in using reclaimed wood. This is a particularly "green" option as the wood used is usually sourced from local barns that are slated to be torn down. Floors have a beautiful antiqued look to them, as scratches and weather marks are usually left on the planks.
Cathy Rust writes a weekly column featuring new products from countertops to flooring, energy efficiency and green building products and services. Go to http://blog.homestars.com for more articles. HomeStars.com is a free website where you can read and write reviews on home improvement companies in your neighbourhood. http://www.homestars.com
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