With our rainforests growing smaller and the Earth’s ecosystems dwindling, finding “green” products that will help sustain our environment is very important. When introducing wood floors into your home, it can be difficult to install products that do not deplete forests. That is why KC Cabinetry recommends bamboo or cork flooring for the environmentally friendly home.
Bamboo has been used for thousands of years as a food, clothing, and building source. It is extremely durable, strong, can release 35% more oxygen than other trees, and can grow almost anywhere. For these reasons, bamboo is a growing product in the flooring and cabinetry business. Its fast growing cycle ensures that if some are cut down and replacements replanted, the replacements will be fully mature four times faster than newly planted pine trees.
High quality bamboo from a reputable dealer holds a Forest Stewardship Council certification. It is a non-government, not-for-profit, independent organization that was established in 1993 as a way of determining responsible forestry consumption. If the bamboo flooring you’re looking at has this certification, it means that the bamboo has been harvested in a way that ensures long term protection, were not harvested immaturely, have respected the indigenous rights, and have legal right to the land. When making the bamboo for flooring, some manufactures use dangerous chemicals such as urea-formaldehyde to bind the bamboo. Be sure to ask for a FloorScore certification, which means the flooring has been tested for dangerous chemicals and creates optimal indoor air quality.
While these products are great for the environment, some may be worried that they do not have the same feel and look as regular wood. However, with finishes bamboo can look just like regular hardwood. There can be bamboo nodes in the flooring if it is cut vertically, but horizontally cut bamboo does not have the nodes. It is durable, but can be chipped and dented just like hardwood floors.
There are different ways of putting bamboo in your home. If you want a durable product completely made of bamboo, the best options are either solid or distressed bamboo flooring. This can be attached to plywood or nailed directly to concrete. Strand bamboo products are made by shredding the bamboo and gluing it together. It is difficult to install with nails and often cracks while installing, but once installed it is the most durable. Engineered bamboo is not necessarily 100% bamboo: the top part is bamboo and it is connected to another type of wood underneath. It is more durable and stable, and good for places with high humidity.
Bamboo is also fire-resistant and up to 50% less than normal hardwood flooring. However, you may not necessarily like the look of hardwood floor and might want something different. Here at KC Cabinetry, we also offer cork, another environmentally friendly option for flooring.
Cork is made from the bark of trees. This bark is naturally shed, which means that harvesting it does not harm the living tree, and is absolutely replaceable. When the bark is removed, the tree absorbs up to five times more carbon than normally, helping reduce our carbon footprint. Some flooring is recycled from wine stoppers, making it even more environmentally friendly.
The air trapped inside the cork creates a cushiony floor that is easy on the feet, which is perfect for high traffic areas. The trapped air also makes the floor shock and sound absorbent. If a dish is dropped on the floor, it won’t break and the noise will not hurt your ears. It is hypo-allergenic, as the natural properties the cork used to protect the tree are transferred into your home. It can resist mold and mildew, as well as certain types of bugs. It is fire resistant, and is bound with materials safe for indoor use. Cork is extremely durable, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
These patterns are a bit busy, so if you’re looking to have a simple design, cork may not be for you. Also, the cushiony attributes of cork can be a drawback. If used with heavy furniture, the cork can dent and there can be imprints. This can be avoided by placing coasters beneath the furniture, but if something heavy is dropped on the floor, it can dent. Cork is not water resilient, even with protective finishes. If water is spilled and not cleaned up promptly, it can warp the floor. Sunlight can also damage the coloring of the cork. Cork is not the most expensive flooring material, but it is significantly more expensive than linoleum or carpeting.
Whatever you choose, KC Cabinetry can help you decide and install the perfect floor for your home. Come into our kitchen remodeling showroom today to see samples and talk to one of our designers!
- Cassandra Cordova, KC Cabinetry intern