Can Engineered Hardwood Flooring be Environmentally Friendly?

by Owner on June 25, 2010

Individuals looking to buy a home, build a new home or upgrade their current residence are often left pondering the benefits and drawbacks to engineered hardwood flooring. Perhaps most importantly today, consumers are interested in engineered hardwood floors that are also environmentally friendly. Is that an unrealistic pipe dream, or are there products out there today that can live up to that standard?

The good news is that yes, an engineered hardwood floor can also be eco friendly. However, that of course doesn’t mean that all of these products are going to be as such. You will need to learn what to look for and how to distinguish between products that will make you more environmentally friendly and those that do more harm than good. The following factors will help you pick out a product that’s sure to be a winner.

One of the first things to look for is FSC certification. The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, and they are the most prominent organization for working with the timber and lumber industries to promote the most sustainable forest management practices possible. FSC certification signals that a number of standards have been met and exceeded that lead to an environmentally sound and sustainable usage of resources.

The truth is that while we view wood as a nonrenewable resource – you chop down a tree and then it’s gone – wood is actually a renewable resource when the right resource management strategies are in place. That, in a nutshell, is what the FSC is all about, and it’s why you should look for engineered hardwood flooring with their certification.

There are other important features and characteristics that you should look for however, particularly with an engineered hardwood floor as opposed to solid hardwood. Due to the nature of their construction they require the use of adhesives in between layers, and these can potentially be very unhealthy for you and for the environment. The finishes used atop of the wood can also be harmful as well.

Therefore, you should choose engineered hardwood floors that emit low levels of VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds. Formaldehyde is one of the most common and one of the potentially most dangerous, while alternatives like Tung oil and water-based polyurethanes are vastly superior.

Finally, keep an eye out for engineered hardwood floors that make use of reclaimed and recycled materials. This is just another way to get even more bang for your eco friendly buck, because instead of using wood taken fresh from a tree, you’re making use of something that’s already been used before and cutting down on, well, cutting down trees!

Hopefully some of your concerns have been alleviated and you can see for yourself that environmentally friendly engineered hardwood flooring does exist. Look for products that are FSC certified, have low VOC levels and make use of reclaimed woods as well and you’ll make your choice as eco friendly as possible.

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June 25, 2010 at 8:50 pm

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