Installing an eco-friendly floor is a stylish way to improve your living space while treading a bit more lightly on the planet at the same time. For style, pricing and availability in Canada, your top eco-chic choices are bamboo, linoleum, cork and—one of our favourites—reclaimed or recycled hardwood. Here's a rundown of our top flooring choices, listed from least to most expensive.
Bamboo flooring offers a modern, Asian-inflected look that's incredibly loft- or condo-friendly. A fast-growing grass that requires no pesticides or fertilizers to thrive, bamboo is a renewable resource par excellence: not only can a stand of bamboo be harvested for "wood" every five years, it produces 35% more oxygen than an identically sized grove of trees! Available in planks that range from three-inches to six-inches-wide, bamboo comes in trendy transparent stains, as well as luxe hand-scraped distressed finishes to replicate exotic rainforest hardwoods. Farmed bamboo provides habitat for birds, and isn't the same species that pandas like to eat. Very durable, water-resistant and antimicrobial.
Caveats: Very strong, yet anecdotal evidence points to a tendency to scuff; buy at the higher end of the price scale to get a more durable finish.
Approximate Canadian price without installation: From $2 to $4/sq. ft
This circa-1870's invention is enjoying a renaissance right now, thanks to its eco-cred. In fact, this linseed oil/pine resin/ wood flour/jute-backed product is often architects' go-to eco flooring in commercial settings, and is gaining popularity in homes, especially for kitchens and playrooms. Forbo's Marmoleum is the top brand of linoleum and an environmentally responsible manufacturer to boot. Marmoleum comes in 1" x 1" tiles, 2-metre-wide sheets (cut to your desired length), and 1' x 3' click-in floating panels. It's non-toxic and biodegradable, yet boasts a 40 -year lifespan, and is antimicrobial.
Caveat: Make sure you're getting real linoleum flooring and not a synthetic version containing eco-unfriendly polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Approximate Canadian price without installation: From $4 to $7/sq. ft