For Buyer’s Guide to Environmentally Friendly Green Flooring

No flooring product has zero impact on our planet, but some materials are better than others. This buyer’s guide to Environmentally Friendly Green Flooring will help you choose the most environmentally sound and healthy floor that meets your needs.

Bamboo Flooring

Renewable resource. Fast-growing grass that can be selectively harvested annually.

Selection Tips:

Look for bamboo products that are FSC certified and have no formaldehyde added.

Pros:

  • Renewable resource
  • Extremely durable
  • Harder than red oak or maple

Cons:

  • Overuse of natural bamboo forests may be destroying them
  • Asian sources require significant embodied energy for transport

Cost:

$4-$8 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Bedroom
  • Living room
  • Family room
  • Dining room
  • Kitchen
  • Entryway

 

Carpet

Green carpets and area rugs are low-emitting and made from natural fibers (e.g., wool, jute) or with a high content of recycled synthetic fibers.

Selection Tips:

Look for The Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Plus certification. Area rugs and carpet tiles are preferable to broadloom (wall-to-wall) carpet.

Visit the Green Label Plus website for a list of carpets that have been tested and certified as low-emitting products.

Pros:

  • Carpet industry is actively addressing its environmental issues
  • Good sound absorption (quiet to walk on)
  • Synthetic fibers are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource

Cons:

  • Difficult to clean
  • Can harbor dirt, dust and mold

Cost:

$2 and up per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Formal areas
  • Bedroom
  • Stairs

Don’t use wall-to-wall carpet in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, basements, or other areas regularly exposed to moisture.

 

Cork Flooring

Cork is a renewable resource made from the bark of the cork oak.

Selection Tips:

Look for products that have no formaldehyde added. Avoid cork-vinyl composites.

If using a sealer, select a low-VOC product (less than 200 g/L of VOCs, per SCAQMD Rule 1113).

Pros:

  • Renewable resource
  • Sometimes has recycled content
  • Easy to clean if properly sealed
  • Good foot support and sound absorption

Cons:

  • Indoor air quality impacts from some sealers.
  • European sources result in higher embodied energy for transport

Cost:

$3-$6 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Kitchen
  • Family room

 

Linoleum Flooring

Same ingredients today as when it was invented in 1863: linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone and pigments, all pressed onto a jute backing.

Selection Tips:

Look for “natural linoleum.” Vinyl flooring is sometimes generically called “linoleum.”

Available as sheet or tile flooring.

Pros:

  • Renewable ingredients
  • Often has recycled content
  • 30- to 40-year lifespan
  • Easy to clean
  • Good foot support

Cons:

  • Made in Europe, resulting in significant embodied energy for transport
  • Odor from linseed oil may irritate some people

Cost:

$4 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Family room

 

Rubber Flooring

Natural virgin rubber is derived from rubber trees, a renewable resource. Using recycled rubber made from tires reduces the environmental burden of discarded tires.

Selection Tips:

Some rubber has a significant odor. Use in well-ventilated areas only.

Synthetic rubber tends to be more durable than natural rubber.

Pros:

  • Often has recycled content
  • Easy to clean
  • Good foot support
  • Can be installed without adhesives
  • Durable (20-year lifespan)

Cons:

  • Continual off-gassing (particularly from recycled tire rubber) has indoor air quality impact
  • Synthetic rubber is made from petrochemicals

Cost:

$5-$7 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Outdoors
  • Well-ventilated indoor space (e.g., mudroom)

 

Stone Flooring

Natural resource; durable material.

Selection Tips:

Look for locally (or at least domestically) mined and fabricated stone; avoid buying imported stone (to reduce transport-related energy).

Look for stone that does not have to be sealed. If using a sealer, select a low-VOC product (less than 200 g/L of VOCs, per SCAQMD Rule 1113).

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Stone is a finite resource
  • High embodied energy if stone is mined or fabricated overseas
  • Some sealers produce harmful VOC emissions

Cost:

$3-$10 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Entryway
  • Fireplace

 

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Flooring

Durable material (ceramic or glass), often with recycled content.

Selection Tips:

Look for locally manufactured tiles with high recycled content.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Often has recycled content

Cons:

  • High embodied energy (to fire tiles and produce cementitious materials)
  • Seek local sources because of heaviness

Cost:

$1-$6 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Entryway
  • Fireplace

 

Hardwood Flooring

Natural material; renewable resource; durable.

Selection Tips:

Look for Forest Stewardship Council certified, or salvaged/reclaimed wood. Ask retailer for a chain-of-custody certification. Avoid products with added formaldehyde (sometimes used in engineered/pressed wood backing or sublayers). Look for sealers and cleaners that are environmentally benign and low-VOC emitting.

You can search the Forest Certification database for FSC certified forests or wood products.

Pros:

  • Renewable resource if from a sustainably managed, selectively harvested forest
  • Low embodied energy, particularly if harvested and produced locally

Cons:

  • Clear-cut forestry causes overharvesting and destruction of habitat
  • Wood contains some naturally occurring formaldehyde

Cost:

$3-$6 per square foot

Recommended Uses:

  • Bedroom
  • Living room
  • Family room
  • Dining room
  • Stairs

 

Green Flooring is the way of the future and manufacturers are constantly working to improve their products to be greener. For example, Mohawk recently introduced a new product, Air.O carpet, that is a major step towards green flooring. Find out more information about Air.O carpet here!

Powered by Top Rated Local®
Shop In

Store

Stop by one of our beautiful showrooms in Myrtle Beach or North Myrtle Beach and view all of our flooring options.

Find a Showroom

Shop From

Home

We will bring our showroom right to your door. Schedule a free appoitment today!

Schedule an Appointment

Shop Here

Online

Browse our flooring products right here, without having to leave the comfort of your couch.

Shop Online

Four Seasons Flooring is offering 12 months same as cash financing through Synchrony Bank.

Website by: Three Ring Focus