Cork comes in a multitude of colors, from fashion forward to natural inspired. It’s probably the most sustainable product of all because cork floors are made by peeling the cork off the tree; no trees are harmed in the making of this product – they simply grow more cork. Because cork is a natural material, it’s great for people who want to keep synthetics to a minimum but are looking for a more interesting flooring choice. As for pricing, cork can be more affordable than wood or even laminate but luxury cork finishes will cost about the same.
Bamboo floors offer the look of wood and are produced by harvesting shoots of bamboo which then regrows. Earlier bamboo could be a bit soft and wasn’t the best choice for high traffic areas but new styles of bamboo are engineered to be twice as strong as oak by a weaving process where strands of bamboo are hardened with resin. Hardy and durable, bamboo offers a huge array of colors and textures, many of which look like wood grain. Bamboo pricing is similar to hardwood but check around to see if you can find a deal; there are many out there as bamboo has gone mainstream.
Other sustainable flooring options are reclaimed hardwood – or wood which comes from another dwelling or structure. It’s prized for its patina and aged, lived-in look. There’s also engineered floor (laminates) that are now made with recycled content. You could also choose linoleum which is not petroleum based like vinyl, but made from linseed oil. Linoleum gets a bad reputation from its history of flooring industrial and school buildings in the 40s and 50s, but today’s linoleum offers great looking styles and colors and it’s just as easy to install as it ever was. In the soft floor category, you can go with wool carpeting which is not only renewable but fabulous underfoot and very durable.