The Environmental Impact Of Wood Flooring, Laminate, Vinyl & Bamboo

flooring environmental impact

With the current rise in the environmental movement and focus on sustainability, it is becoming increasingly dominant for homeowners and businesses to be conscious of the materials being used in their space. Therefore, it is important to know that different types of flooring materials have different environmental impacts ranging from energy consumption during production and installation, to having negative impacts on your health. Read ahead to learn about the environmental impacts of laminate flooring, vinyl flooring, and hardwood flooring before you make a flooring decision for your home or business.

Environmental Impact Of Laminate Flooring

When considering laminate flooring’s environmental impact, this flooring is sourced from wood residues and can be recycled since it is made from repurposed natural resources. It also includes wood chips and sawdust from milling techniques. Laminate flooring is a popular and easy-to-install flooring covering made from multiple layers of timber, a clear top layer, and a printed layer that achieves a natural look along with a thick underlayment to help absorb sound. In addition, there is no need to use harsh chemicals to prepare the floor since laminate planks simply click into place during installation. Once they are installed, laminate floors are simple to clean with soap and water and this helps to protect indoor air quality.

Environmental Impact Of Vinyl Flooring

Polyvinyl chloride or PVC is a type of plastic derived from fossil fuels. To understand the environmental impact of vinyl flooring, it is important to consider that the method used to extract these resources and the manufacturing processes required to produce PVC can add to carbon emissions. Once vinyl flooring is damaged, it cannot be refinished which means the flooring has to be removed and replaced. There are many additives and chemicals used in the production of PVC which makes recycling this material a complex and challenging task which can lead to a higher likelihood of PVC resulting in landfills at the end of its lifespan. 

In addition, various chemicals can be released during the production of PVC and vinyl flooring such as phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The materials used in PVC can sometimes emit various levels of VOCs into the air for a period after its initial installation. These substances can have negative effects on indoor air quality and potentially result in respiratory issues in the immediate environment. It is possible to offset these effects to some extent by ensuring that you purchase from a qualified material source and also ensure that the space is well-ventilated for some time after the installation.  

Hardwood Flooring’s Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of hardwood flooring when compared to other flooring materials is minimal. Hardwood flooring is the most environmentally friendly option available since the raw materials from trees used to produce them can regrow after they are cut down. Hardwood floors can last for more than 100 years, and their durability leads to a reduced amount of waste in landfills. When it is time to discard hardwood, there are several environmentally friendly ways to dispose of hardwood floors at the end of their lifespan. These include recycling wood floors into other materials and using them as fuel or as a heating source. Wood from hardwood flooring is biodegradable which means that it will decompose if it ends up in the landfill. 

Smith Bros. Floors is family-owned and operated and has been in the industry for over a century. We use industry-leading flooring and have the experience to guide you to make the right flooring decision. We provide excellent customer service from site visit, to quote, to the installation of your floors and follow-up. Contact us today to find the perfect floor!