Making sustainable choices when upgrading your home doesn’t mean you need to compromise on style.
Since flooring covers more space in your house than almost any other material, choosing your flooring is no easy task. It’s a decision that can drastically impact your home’s overall design.
This decision can also increase the value of your home, particularly if you opt for wood flooring. Remember, design trends come and go, but you will never go wrong with a wooden floor!
However, some common misconceptions about wood products make homeowners disregard them. For instance, many people wonder if wood flooring is sustainable.
If you’re in the same boat, continue reading this article to learn the truth about wood flooring before you make any decision.
Is Wood Flooring Sustainable?
Wood flooring is sustainable since it is derived from trees, which are a renewable resource if harvested and managed carefully, with sustainability as a priority. In addition, trees can be continually replanted. These characteristics make it a sustainable material.
With improvements in forestry and farming management, trees used for wood flooring have to be immediately replaced so that the number of trees stays consistent.
In fact, for every cubic foot of trees chopped down, an average of 1.66 cubic feet are planted back. This rate helps ensure that the harvest rate is always lower than the average growth rate.
Nevertheless, sustainability only applies to responsibly-managed forests. Just keep in mind that there’s still plenty of illegal logging happening, which can be quite detrimental to the environment.
Moreover, carefully managed forests are actually beneficial for the environment. For example, younger trees can produce more oxygen than older trees as they can absorb more carbon dioxide, improving the atmospheric output of the forestland area.
Why Is Wood Flooring Sustainable?
There are several other reasons which make wood flooring sustainable, including:
Sustainable Manufacturing Process
The manufacturing process for flooring can lead to massive waste. In addition, the chemicals used and left-over raw materials can harm the environment and a project’s bottom line.
Stone and wood require the lowest amount of energy to produce. On the other hand, tile, carpet, and linoleum require significantly more power and chemicals in the engineering and manufacturing process.
Wood flooring produces very little waste as manufacturers use sawdust and wood chips to make paper and other composite products. Excess wood can even be burned and is viewed as clean bio-energy.
Such waste management procedures allow wood flooring manufacturers to utilize 99% of every tree harvested.
Long-Lasting and Durable
With proper care and maintenance, the wood flooring in your house can last more than 100 years, which means there’s a very high chance you won’t need to replace the floor at all during your entire lifetime.
Plus, wood flooring can also be restained and refinished if required.
Compare this to carpet that would need to be replaced every five to ten years or a synthetic floor covering (vinyl or laminate) that also would need to be replaced more frequently than wood flooring. The longevity and durability of wood help make it even more sustainable as you will never have to replace it.
Tile flooring and stone can also last longer than 100 years. However, such materials cannot be refinished and are vulnerable to cracks and staining. On the other hand, wood is quite durable and doesn’t show daily wear and tear like many alternatives.
When it comes to price, linoleum and carpet are generally cheaper than wood, whereas tile and stone are usually costlier. Even though wood might not be the most affordable option at first, these floors most likely won’t need to be replaced within a homeowner’s lifetime.
Thus, they can help you save money and time in the long run.
Wood is one of the few flooring options utilized more than once for flooring and other building projects. As mentioned above, wood can be sanded down and restained to match various design plans.
If the wood is too damaged to be reused as flooring, there are several ways to recycle wood for other projects such as accent walls, furniture, or other decorative purposes.
Reclaimed wood is gaining more popularity, and many people even like the appearance of recycled timber exposed to the elements. Moreover, wood is also biodegradable, and in some instances, you can burn it for fuel.
Apart from the aesthetic appeal that wood flooring adds to a home, it is a sustainable option for designers or building owners who want to prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility.
With one of the longest-estimated lifespans, a reasonably low energy footprint, and high potential recyclability, wood flooring isn’t just a wise decision for current home builders; it will also benefit future residents.
How to Ensure Wood Flooring Is Sustainable?
Sustainable flooring is made from wood that’s legally sourced.
In 2008, the US banned the import of timber from illegal sources. However, it still takes place. If the vendor you’re purchasing your wood flooring from cannot tell you where it originated, chances are it didn’t come from a sustainable source.
Sustainable wood needs to carry the US Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal. The FSC’s priority is to ensure forests are regrown, water and air quality are protected, and biodiversity is preserved.
The non-profit’s stamp of approval demonstrates that forest operations met 57 criteria ranging from minimizing the use of harmful chemicals to protecting local wildlife and allowing loggers to unionize if they want.
In addition, wood products – including floorings – from forests managed to FSC’s standards carry the FSC logo along with a “chain of custody” number. This certification makes it relatively easy to trace the products back to the source.
What’s more, FSC-approved wood flooring doesn’t come from clear-cutting or from forests where “high conservation values” are threatened.
Selective harvesting protects the forest ecosystem and the soil. Clear-cutting makes certain areas vulnerable to disease, mudslides, and insect infestations.
Are Some Woods More Sustainable than Others?
Yes, certain woods are more sustainable than others. However, it’s not that simple. It’s always best to look for the FSC certification to ensure that the wood flooring you’re purchasing is sustainable.
Generally speaking, the rarer the tree species, the less sustainable it is.
Oak is a fairly common tree species and is usually grown for harvesting purposes.
This production makes it a sustainable wood if responsible and proper forestry management procedures are in place. The same applies to pine which is used often in the furniture industry.
Some more exotic woods such as mahogany or teak are more challenging to grow. Certain countries produce FSC-certified mahogany and teak, but others participate in black logging and export the wood illegally.
Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable and renewable resource becoming popular for flooring. It isn’t categorized as timber as it is grass. Bamboo grows more quickly than hardwood trees and regenerates once harvested, meaning it doesn’t have to be replanted.
Bamboo can also be FSC-certified. Thus, make sure to check for the FSC logo before buying.
Another excellent alternative for sustainable hardwood is reclaimed wood. The most common kinds of reclaimed wood flooring are oak and pine. Reclaimed wood is a little pricier than new hardwood as it’s carefully cleaned, restored, and refinished.
Is Wood Flooring Energy-Efficient?
Due to the increasing cost of gas and electricity, energy efficiency is becoming extremely important for homeowners. Which makes us wonder if wood flooring is energy-efficient and can help reduce energy costs?
The rugged exterior of wood flooring allows it to absorb heat well. Moreover, wood also has a higher thermal mass, enabling it to maintain heat for longer than carpet. This trait significantly reduces your home’s temperature fluctuation as it absorbs and stores heat while light carpet fibers just become a barrier.
Having materials with high thermal mass in your house saves money on your utilities as your home’s HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain its cool during the day or retain its warmth at night. As a result, the temperature stays more stable.
Moreover, curtained engineered wood products are supported by a foam base that works as a vapor barrier and incorporates insulation value. The wood and backing will add up to offer an R-value of up to 1.5.
When you’re trying to minimize your energy consumption while making your house more comfortable, every tiny bit will help.
To get the highest level of energy efficiency from the wood flooring, ask your contractor about the best kinds and thicknesses suitable for your region’s climate.
As heat can rise through wood gaps in an improperly installed subfloor and floor covering, make sure to depend only on an experienced and reliable wood flooring contractor.
How Much Does Wood Flooring Cost?
The cost of a new wood floor ranges from $6–$13 per square foot, whereas engineered wood is a little costlier at an average of $6–$15.
This cost includes both materials and installation. Nearly 50–75% of your total budget will be used for materials whereas the remaining will go towards labor costs.
|Floor Grade||Materials Cost (per square foot)||Labor Cost (per square foot)||Total Cost (per square foot)|
|Lowest tier||$3 – $6||$3 – $5||$6 – $11|
|Middle tier||$5 – $10||$4 – $8||$9 – $18|
|Highest tier||$8 – $15||$4 – $8||$12 – $23|
How to Calculate Wood Flooring Costs?
Knowing how to determine the overall flooring cost lets you avoid any unpleasant shocks. To gauge the figure, simply calculate the area of the space (in square feet), then add approximately 7–8% for waste and cuts.
Now multiply the number you get with the price per square foot of the wood to arrive at the total expenditure. Also, make sure to factor in the cost of extras like moldings, thresholds, and nails. The formula to calculate the total expense is as follows:
Price of the wood per square foot x (Square footage + 7.5% of the calculated area) = Total cost.
Factors to Consider When Determining Wood Flooring Costs
There are plenty of factors needed to calculate wood flooring costs. These include the material, labor required, wood type, grain, color, style, plank width, thickness, and pattern. Here is a breakdown of some essential factors.
Type of Wood
The price of the wood flooring largely depends on the cost of the wood. For instance, hickory and oak are on the lower side, whereas mahogany is on the higher side of the price range.
Wood flooring generally comes in boards measuring three inches wide or less. Broad plank flooring can range anywhere from $1.50 to $12 per square foot for the boards. The labor cost will be around $3–$4.
When you use wide planks, you will need fewer boards to cover the space. Thus, your labor costs will also be lower.
Woodgrain is also going to impact the price. For example, plain-sawn boards are generally the most economical. Rift-sawn or quarter-sawn planks with the grain going in lines throughout the planks are costlier.
Last Few Words
Trees produce oxygen while absorbing carbon dioxide. Thus, wood is regarded as a carbon-neutral product and stays that way even after being harvested. Therefore, if companies use sustainable harvesting processes, wood flooring produces a minimal environmental impact.
Just make sure to choose a common species of tree and flooring certified by the FSC. This oversight will ensure that your wood flooring is sustainable.