Our Path to Sustainable Flooring

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv, Home Decor

It’s renovation time again – in fact, it’s time for the renovation. The one we’ve been anticipating and dreading in the year and a half since we purchased our house. It’s time to redo our floors. Namely, the "1st floor" 3-level area of living room, dining room, kitchen & stairs that’s covered with sandstone. Unsealed outdoor sandstone (see stair photo to right). It’s not so bad looking, but it’s uneven, can’t be cleaned, and cold. It has to go.

We’ve been mulling over our options for as long as we’ve owned the house. Our other 2 floors were laminated by the previous owners. They look nice, but we’re not big laminate fans. Hardwood is undoubtedly more expensive, but more appealing. No matter the final flooring solution, the project will start the same: full demo of all tile and subfloor, new subfloor, carpentry on stairs to change the alignment, removal of carpet in living room, demo of part of the fireplace.

Since those costs will not change regardless of our flooring choice, we chose not to let it influence our decision of flooring. We started looking into what floors would be durable with 2 cats and found ourselves drawn to much more natural grained products, including bamboo. We came home with some samples of teak and bamboo and did some research. We looked at hardness/durability (Janka scale here) and looked at the costs of different products (bamboo is less expensive than other woods, although different products have different installation costs).

It wasn’t a huge leap to go from liking the bamboo to deciding to go all the way and look into doing a fully "green" floor. We did some research on bamboo and found that, while bamboo is a sustainable product, the flooring sold in most stores was most likely not "green" – using sealers and glues that are not eco-friendly. In fact, the bamboo was likely too young, making it prone to warping over time.

Yesterday we paid a visit to Green Works in Vancouver, which is a fully "green" building supply store. They have a lot of amazing stuff, but we were there to look at the EcoTimber flooring. We were open to any of their products, but the bamboo came out victorious again both on appeal and price. We saw our first sample of strand-woven bamboo and fell in love. Here are the two colour options – honey and amber:

Strand woven bamboo flooring is made of bamboo strands pressed together with a durable resin. Not only does it have more of a wood-grain finish, less linear than traditional bamboo flooring, but it is much more durable than traditional bamboo flooring – at 3,000 per Janka (very very hard).

Green Works gave us a lot of information about flooring in general, and the consideration of not just the material but also the finish in terms of durability considerations. The bamboo comes pre-finished, which makes it less likely to scratch, but more difficult to repair when scratched. This is the same with any pre-finished flooring. Floors that are unfinished can be sealed, and spot patched, as time goes on. More work but more easily repaired.

I feel like, at this point, we have a lot of information to make an educated decision about what flooring is best for us. I believe we will likely go with the EcoTimber woven bamboo option, as it’s only slightly more expensive than a non-green bamboo floor. It’s an expensive investment overall, but one we feel is worth it.

We have samples of both the amber & honey colours and are shifting them from room to room. Both are beautiful options. Hopefully we can make a decision on colour and begin the much more complicated process of hiring a contractor to do the major work of demo & installation. And we are hoping to budget in Fresh Start for the environmental disposal of all our reno mess.

Stay tuned for what will be an exciting (and stressful) renovation process!

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4 Responses to “Our Path to Sustainable Flooring”

  1. Raul says:

    I’m going to be talking to Fresh Start this week, maybe I can get them to talk to you guys :) who knows, maybe they can even give a discount!

  2. arieanna says:

    That’d be great, we’d happily promote them more – maybe an ad? – for a discount. This is going to be a very expensive project, but we’re *trying* to do it right.

  3. [...] home with new samples. This time, for our fireplace (which was converted to gas). Once we begin the floor renovation, we’d like to demo part of the fireplace to make the hearth level with the floor and to cover [...]

  4. [...] a couple of weeks, the sandstone tile you see in the photos will be replaced with bamboo! As you can see from the left photo, it was sadly in need of removal. Just sucks up all the [...]

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