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Nov 8, 2012 6:00 PM  PST  

GreenPointers: Flooring 

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GreenPointers: Floorings

Our series of GreenPointers provide helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is flooring.

When it comes to floors, there are plenty of appealing options for every room of your home. While refinishing your existing floors is usually the greenest choice, if you're in the market for new floors, consider products that are reclaimed, FSC-certified, rapidly renewable or recycled.

Green Pointers

Here are some things to keep in mind when making your flooring choices:
Step 1


  A common source of indoor air pollution is volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a large class of chemicals that offgas from many building materials. Exposure to VOCs may cause a range of symptoms, from eye irritation and headaches to more severe effects. Many floor finishes, adhesives and sealants emit unhealthy VOCs.

Fortunately, the building products industry is responding to these indoor pollution problems by developing safer products, including low-VOC floor sealants and adhesives. These products are now commonly available from most major suppliers at costs comparable to conventional products.

Read more about how to avoid VOCs on

Step 2


  Refinishing existing floors instead of replacing them might be your most economical option. It's also one of the best environmental choices—it reduces demand for natural resources like wood and stone, and saves energy used to manufacture and ship new products. When refinishing wood floors, use water-based, low-VOC sealers (see above). If ceramic or stone tiles are in good shape, consider cleaning and polishing them rather than replacing them.
Step 3


  There are many, many flooring options to choose from that don't tax our natural resources. Opt for products that are made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, cork, and natural linoleum. If you want traditional wood flooring, make sure the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which gives you assurance that the wood came from forests managed in accordance with stringent sustainable forestry practices.

Recycled ceramic and glass floor tiles keep valuable resources out of the waste stream, and can be used wherever conventional tiles are used. You can even use your existing concrete slab as a finished floor by polishing or staining it. This eliminates the need to use additional flooring materials, saving resources.


Read the complete flooring GreenPointers.

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