Come winter, and most of us appreciate a warm carpet under our feet. But for some people, carpets are a toxic magnet, high in VOC's (volatile organic compounds) and filled with allergens. They need other alternatives. And winter is also a great time to tackle indoor projects when the snow piles up outside. So let's talk about some of those alternatives.
Bamboo: Bamboo is an excellent choice for flooring. Harvested from renewable rapid-growth plants, bamboo comes in a variety of natural shades. Most bamboo comes pre-stained and sealed and is more resistant to dampness than wood, making it suitable for both kitchen and bathroom flooring.
Cork: Cork's popularity has grown largely in part due to its sustainability. Available in a number of colors and patterns, cork proves to be an ideal choice for the versatile decorator. Another great benefit is the fact that cork is not glued down, but floats above the surface of the sub-floor, adjusting to the floor's requirements in time. Warm and cushiony on bare feet, cork will not rot and is scratch and dent proof, ensuring it won't attract damp or termites.
Hardwood: Hardwood adds warmth and style to any home. It is extremely resilient and will last for years given the proper care and maintenance. When going in for hardwood flooring, look for flooring made from re-milled salvage timber or salvage flooring to ensure zero or minimum impact on living trees. If reclaimed wood is not an option, always go in for flooring that has been approved by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
Engineered Wood: This is a more cost effective and popular choice for hardwood lovers. Produced by sticking sheets of real wood onto a composite, it does not expand or contract with temperature changes. It can be glued or clicked directly into place, making it a perfect DIY choice. The downside to it is that it cannot be sanded more than twice and may not be the ideal choice for pet owners.
Linoleum: Real linoleum is made up from pine resin, flax, sawdust, cork dust, limestone, jute and linseed oil (hence the name) to bind it together. Unlike vinyl, it contains no chlorine. All the ingredients are biodegradable and it can be applied with staples or nails, rather than glue, reducing the owner's exposure to VOC's. Linoleum flooring is easy to maintain and does not trap dust or bacteria, which helps improve air quality. This makes it a great choice for home owners who suffer from allergies.
Tiles: While buying tiles, look for tiles made from post-recycled waste material, including recycled glass in combination with clay mixture. Tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns. However, not all tiles are long-lasting and care has to be taken to ensure they are protected from getting chipped.
Stone: When selecting natural stone like slate, opt to purchase the flooring from local shops to ensure the region is not being over-mined. While it looks exceptionally pretty, slab marble and limestone are not especially hard-wearing and so might not be a popular option for homes with pets or children.
When considering flooring, take into options your already existing flooring. A stained and loose carpet may be cleaned, dyed and refitted to take on a new life. Colorful jute and sisal rugs could brighten a dull room. If you are going in for something new, consider the durability of the new flooring and the use of the room. A floor that needs to be replaced every few years is hardly low-impact. And with all the options out there, you shouldn't have to worry about wear for years to come.