How is the flooring industry changing to protect the environment?

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Many industries around the world have found the need to adjust business and manufacturing processes in order to meet changing laws, regulations and public concerns for the environment. The flooring industry is one industry leading the way to meet the growing demand for environmentally friendly floors.

Hardwood has long been a favorite choice of consumers leading some to have increased concerns about deforestation. This concern is somewhat misguided because hardwood materials are commonly sourced from tree farms, not wild forest. Managed forests, as they are known, use a sustainable method, replacing sourced materials with new growth.


Waterproof WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) is a relatively new material. It's been used for decks and outdoor furniture since the early 1990s, and manufacturing techniques have improved steadily since. Some companies have even begun making WPC without any wood at all. The wood look appearance of waterproof WPC has improved enough to make it suitable for slip-free indoor flooring. It is rot, wear, moisture and fade resistant, and the color goes all the way through, so scratches are almost invisible. Because it has such a long wear cycle and is so resistant to damage, it is often chosen for long-term savings and environmental friendliness.

Laminate flooring was introduced in the 1970s. It is a very popular option because it is durable and very easy to install. It is exceptionally versatile because it comes in patterns to suit almost any taste. Laminates are made of a material similar to that used to make WPC, but a printed vinyl layer is attached to the surface, so it can look like hardwood, tile, or stone. It's easy to clean and durable, but not water-resistant, so mopping them with water should be avoided and spills cleaned up quickly.

Concern over formaldehyde given off by laminate and WPC rose recently, so manufacturers have switched to using different ingredients that don't release formaldehyde as easily. New standards being set led to changes to meet those standards, and some manufacturers even claim that their products are 100% formaldehyde-free.

Tile has been made of natural, widely available materials for many centuries, but now some tile manufacturers have begun using recycled materials in their tiles. Customer demand for this feature in the products has led to them using materials such as recycled glass, clay, and metals. Some make tiles that cure at room temperatures, saving the energy that would go to firing them in kilns.

More renewable resources like bamboo and cork are also being utilized because they grow back rapidly after harvest making them more renewable.


As green products and business practices become more important to consumers, the flooring industry as a whole is changing to satisfy that demand. It is easier now than ever before for an ecologically minded customer to find a wide range of options that have a low impact on the environment.

 

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  • Ganelie Ortiz
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