Wood is the material of choice for residential floors, with buyers choosing the warmth of natural timber planks over tile, carpeting and other materials more often for nearly every room in the house. According to Home Innovation Research Labs, new homes had more solid and engineered wood floors in 2011 than in 2004. Not only do home buyers typically prefer the look and feel of wood flooring in a home, they’re more concerned than ever about sustainability.
Tom Shafer of Maine Heritage Timber told the Chicago Tribune that many buyers are demanding American-grown trees from guaranteed-sustainable forests. Demand has been surging for sustainable wood for years now, with customers seeking out materials that are guaranteed not to have had a negative impact on the environment. Eco-friendly timber building materials are often healthier, too, treated and finished with substances that don’t lead to poor indoor air quality.
Off-gassing potentially harmful substances is a major problem with wall-to-wall carpeting, which was the residential flooring material of choice for several decades. Most synthetic carpets are made from nylon fibers that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath and asthmatic reactions. The ‘new carpet’ smell is actually the smell of 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC) off-gassing.
Eastern White Pine is a popular choice for sustainable wood flooring, not only for its environmental friendliness, but also for its classic look. America’s oldest wood flooring material, this softwood takes on a historic quality over time, and looks equally beautiful whitewashed, stained or painted. See a gallery of ten examples here.
Photo: Hull Forest