Bamboo is a gorgeous alternative to wood-based products. It is one of the most environmentally-friendly plants for use in building because it is fast-growing (up to 4 ft. per day) and consumes large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air. As an added benefit, bamboo is sturdier and more water-resistant than some hardwoods, making it a perfect material for high water-use areas like bathrooms. Its price range is about equal to linoleum and can be substantially less than hardwood flooring.
Cork is a unique and resilient option, as well. The cork oak tree is stripped every 10 years to provide the material, but the process does no damage to the plant’s life. Cork itself is water-, stain- and rot-resistant, making it a natural choice for any eco-friendly bathroom. Additionally, there is a significant comfort factor—cork is soft to stand on and is a thermal-insulator. No more leaving the shower to stand on a cold, hard floor! The price tag can put you in the same neighborhood as bamboo or linoleum flooring.
Re-using or recycling tiles and other materials is another stylish, green alternative. Though shuffling through markets to find complimentary shades can be more time-consuming, the cost will be lower and the results are patterns and color pallets unique to your home. It’s a great choice for homeowners who want a ‘retro’ decor, too. Also, think of using innovative materials for flooring, such as chalk board, which can lend a spare, modish look. Costs vary.
Linoleum may not be the first thing to pop into your head when thinking of eco-friendly material, but real linoleum (a.k.a., natural linoleum) is made from pine resin and oxidized linseed oil, both renewable products which reduce the chances of bacterial growth. Another surprising quality is that once you are finished using the material as a flooring option, it can be burned as fuel. It comes in a variety of color options, which will not fade over time.Richlite® is a paper-based material created from trees that have been grown in managed forests. The chemicals used to create the material are incinerated in the process, leaving a Volatile Organic Compound-free (VOC-free) product. It has durable qualities, such as being heat and stain-resistant, and is seen as a more-sanitary alternative to pure wood. Additionally, it comes in a variety of colors to match your design needs.
If you are using wood in your bathroom, keep in mind three options: storm-felled trees, wood from managed forests, and re-using old lumber or paper-products. If purchasing old lumber or recycled wood, look for a Forest Stewardship Council logo. This assures you that the product was created in an environmentally-responsible manner from harvesting to manufacturing.
There are more alternatives for eco-friendly flooring. For example, natural stone and finished concrete can create a spare, chic look. However, for bathroom surfaces these may not be the safest because they can get slick when wet. Lastly, all the eco-friendly flooring in the world can’t make up for floor adhesives that contain noxious chemicals. Make sure Statewide Remodeling knows that you are going green, and they can set you up with eco-friendly adhesive options.