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Green Aspects of Hardwood

Hardwood is a great green flooring choice because of its natural, renewable, and recyclable properties. Not all hardwoods, however, are automatically environmentally friendly. Hardwoods that are harvested without replanting the forest can lead to an adverse impact on the environment. There are a variety of programs that certify which hardwood products are environmentally friendly. The key is to look for the certification label or materials to verify that a product meets green standards. It is recommended that hardwood flooring be certified as environmentally friendly to ensure that the wood is not “clear cut” (a forestry/logging practice in which most or all trees in a forest sector are cut down) but harvested in a sustainable fashion.

  • Natural Resource
  • Enduring lifecycle
  • Renewable
  • Recyclable
  • Suitable for a “healthy home” environment
  • Forests are managed for replanting



No other type of flooring offers the warmth, beauty, and value of hardwood. Wood flooring enhances the decor of any room, and provides timeless beauty that will increase in value throughout the years. Hardwood floors are affordable, and over time, they maintain their value. When other flooring options look worn and need to be replaced, wood floors will still look beautiful and timeless.

Wood floors have come a long way over the last few years. Today, there are more styles, colors and species of wood flooring available than ever before. Whether you’re looking for traditional oak, exotic hand-scraped, rustic pine, or trendy bamboo, there is a color and style to fit your decor.

Choosing the style that is best for you is an important decision, and will be based on a variety of issues including your lifestyle, your decorating style, and the area in which you live.

The basics about hardwood
One important basic fact is that all hardwood flooring comes from what was once a living tree. As with all living things, each living tree has characteristics similar to trees of the same type as well as characteristics that are unique to each individual tree.

Today’s wood floors come in more than 50 species, both domestic and exotic, spanning the spectrum of color options, hardness, and price ranges. No matter what the look you want to achieve, there are a variety of species to select from. The most common hardwood floor in the United State s is made from Oak. Some of the other species of hardwood floors are made of, Maple, American Cherry, Brazilian Cherry, Hickory / Pecan, Ash, Beech, Northern White Oak, Southern White Oak, Northern Red Oak, Southern Red Oak, Swedish Oak, Merbau, Jarrah, Teak, Cypress (Australian), Mahogany, Padauk, Purpleheart, Walnut (American Black), Pine, and Antique Heart Pine.
To further add variety and choice, hardwood flooring can be sold as solid or as engineered, in a variety of different thicknesses, widths and lengths.

Solid hardwood flooring

This type of flooring is manufactured as one complete piece of solid wood. The most common thickness of solid hardwood is ¾” thick. Solid flooring gives you a great opportunity for customization. Your choice of species, stains and finishes all contribute to the personalization of a solid floor. This is an excellent choice in most areas of a home on the ground level or above. Solid hardwood flooring can be installed by nailing, or stapling it to the existing subfloor. Solid hardwood flooring is susceptible to moisture and temperature and will expand and contract.

Engineered hardwood flooring
Engineered wood flooring product consists of layers of wood pressed together, with the grains running in different directions for dimensional stability. Engineered floors come in a variety of different thicknesses, widths and lengths. These floors are less affected by moisture than solid engineered floors. Engineered flooring is perfect for those areas of the house where solid wood flooring may not be suitable, such as basements, kitchens, powder rooms, and utility rooms. Because the grains run in different directions, it is more dimensionally stable than solid wood.

Engineered hardwood floors can also be installed by floating. A floating installation, as the name implies, is not adhered to the existing subfloor, it is assembled as one unit and is held in place partially by gravity and partially by floor and wall moldings. This method of installation allows for the floor to expand and contract at its own rate vs. being attached to the house and being force to expand and contract as does the house it is attached to.

Advances in wood flooring during the past few years mean that you now can have wood flooring anywhere in your home.


Strip flooring is linear flooring that is usually 2 1/4″, 1 1/2″, or 3 1/4″ wide. It creates a linear effect in a room often promoting the illusion of a larger space.


Plank flooring is also linear, however, it is wider in width. Common widths of plank flooring are 3″, 4″, 5″, and 6″.


Parquet flooring is a series of wood flooring pieces that create a geometric design.

Floor finishes are something to consider when shopping for a hardwood floor. There are two basic methods of finishing the surface of a hardwood floor. The oldest method is to sand and stain the floor on site. The newer method is to purchase hardwood flooring that has been stained and finished at the factory. As in every decision we need to make, there are benefits to either finishing method

The one benefit that a stain-and-finish installation has over a prefinished installation, is that it allows for extra customization. As an example, custom colored stains could be mixed to achieve a more unique color.


Prefinished installations have many benefits over the stain-and-finish-on-site installation. A prefinished hardwood floor is sanded, stained (when applicable) and finished using state of the art finishing methods, in a controlled environment that would not be available on site. The quality and consistency of a prefinished hardwood is far better than is obtainable on site.


The Green Aspects of Bamboo

Bamboo is a rapidly renewing resource that matures in three years. There currently is no bamboo certified as meeting various environmental production or preservation standards, so it is important to try to learn as much as you can about the bamboo you are interested in before purchasing it. Most bamboo is grown in Asia and the impact of transporting it to the United States market should be considered.
Green Benefits of Bamboo:

  • Rapidly renewing
  • Quickly matures
  • Regenerates without replanting
  • Requires minimal fertilization or pesticides


Bamboo has recently become one of the hottest trends in flooring. The reasons for its popularity surge are many, but they can be divided into three basic categories: aesthetics, properties, and environmental benefits.

The Aesthetics
Because bamboo is a grass rather than a tree, its finished appearance is very distinctive. Most distinctive is the eye-catching pattern of slightly darker bands produced by its nodes, a feature that clearly sets it apart from wood. Bamboo’s other aesthetic features include the tightness of its grain and the uniformity of its color.

Generally sold pre-finished, bamboo is available in its light, natural color or in darker shades produced by carbonization. Carbonization is a manufacturing process that subjects the bamboo to steam and pressure. This causes a darkening of the sugar content in its fibers resulting in a honey-brown color. The shade of the color is dependent upon the length of the process.

Appearance of the finished product is further enhanced by the various plank constructions. Choices include vertical or horizontal solid construction, engineered construction, and strand woven construction.

The Properties
Amazing as it may seem; this hollow, grass-family plant is actually stronger than most hardwoods. Some species of bamboo have obtained Janka hardness ratings higher than maple and nearly double that of red oak, the benchmark of hardwoods. Besides its hardness quality, bamboo is also very resilient and can take a greater impact than most hardwoods without denting. Hardness and resilience: a dynamic duo for durability.

Other outstanding properties of bamboo are its dimensional stability and moisture resistance. Because bamboo flooring is a laminated product, the likeliness of gapping, cupping, or warping is greatly reduced.

Another factor that makes bamboo less likely to warp is that it grows in tropical regions. Therefore, it is naturally resistive to moisture. This makes it suitable for use in areas like bathrooms and kitchens where hardwood flooring is usually not recommended. Of course, being resistant to moisture means bamboo is also resistant to spills and stains

The Environmental Benefits
In an age of ever-growing concern over depletion of natural resources, especially of hardwood forests, the trend toward bamboo flooring could not be timelier.

Bamboo is extremely fast-growing compared to hardwoods. On average, bamboo is capable of reaching maturity, at heights well over 50 feet, and is ready to harvest in five years. Additionally, since it is a grass, it is harvested again and again from the same plant. Compare that to an individual hardwood tree taking anywhere from three decades to more than a hundred years to mature, depending on the species.

Bamboo is an alternative to traditional hardwood flooring that is:

  • uniquely attractive
  • strong and resilient
  • dimensionally stable
  • moisture and stain resistant
  • environmentally-friendly

It is also less expensive than many hardwoods and can be purchased for nailed down, stapled down, glued down, or floated installation.