Hardwood Flooring

The popularity of hardwood flooring persists because of the material’s natural beauty and durability. It is also a wise investment insofar as the up-front costs of material and installation can often be recovered when the house is sold.

New hardwood options. Though oak is still the most popular choice for hardwood floors, many homeowners are opting instead for more exotic woods that are often grown outside of the United States. Brazilian cherry is among the most stylish of these offerings. It has a rich, russet hue and a high density, which makes it extremely durable. Technically the bark of a hardwood, cork is also becoming popular due to its supple feel and vast range of shades. As not all woods are appropriate for all climates, it’s important to consult a professional before purchase.

Bamboo. Homeowners concerned with the environmental impact of their hardwood floor may want to consider bamboo as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood or wood in general. Bamboo, though it behaves like a wood for flooring purposes, is technically a grass. In addition to growing more rapidly than almost any other plant in the world—fully maturing in only four years, compared to forty or fifty for most hardwoods—bamboo also absorbs carbon dioxide and produces oxygen faster than most trees. This means that harvesting bamboo for flooring can be highly sustainable.

As a word of caution, remember that not all bamboo producers are concerned with the environment. There are plenty of ways that bamboo production can be destructive for the local ecosystem, especially in countries with little oversight of the industry. Try to find a bamboo supplier that is endorsed by a trusted environmentalist organization, such as the Forest Stewardship Council. Also inquire about the amount of formaldehyde glue used in the planks. For safety reasons, bamboo planks shouldn’t emit over 0.01 parts per million of formaldehyde.