Wood Flooring Can Be An Environmentally-Friendly Choice
We’ve written before that tropical hardwoods are all too frequently harvested illegally, and that even FSC certification may not be enough to ensure your floor has not contributed to deforestation if it contains wood from the tropics.
However, none of these concerns will apply if your timber comes from a properly managed source closer to home, and at Türgon our hardwood of choice is oak – European oak in fact, from managed forests in usually either the Ukraine or France. Wood actually has the potential to be one of the most sustainable floor coverings.
A properly managed forest or plantation represents a renewable resource that will yield materials indefinitely, and there are other factors that can make wood flooring a far superior environmentally-conscious choice for your home than other materials, especially those that might on the face of it appear to be cheaper. Here’s a few things to consider when weighing a wood floor against other materials:
Wood is carbon neutral
During its growth cycle as a tree, wood produces oxygen and stores carbon. When the timber is harvested from the tree, that carbon is locked away inside the wood. You can read more about this, with some specific examples, on our environment page.
Wood floors are energy and resource efficient to make
Studies undertaken in Sweden and in the US indicate that less water and energy is used in the production of wood floors than other types of flooring. Timber does not have different constituent parts that need to be synthesised; it simply exists in the form of trees and just needs to be harvested, shaped and preserved.
Wood is extremely durable
With the right care, a hardwood floor will last hundreds of years and so it will not need to be replaced as often as other options like carpet (8-10 years), laminate flooring (15-25 years), linoleum (25 years) or even vinyl (50 years). Life expectancy figures are from this US study from the National Association of Home Builders.
Wood can be reused
If a wood floor becomes damaged then it can be refinished or restored. Even if it is removed altogether it could well be recycled (the planks could either be planed, sanded and reused, or turned into wood chips for use in plywood or even on your garden) – and at a last resort, you could burn it as fuel. Only stone comes close when it comes to versatility, ease of disposal, and eco-friendly disposal.
Properly managed, wood is sustainable
In the UK, our managed forests are restocked when wood is harvested and new woodland is planted every year, so the overall the amount of managed woodland is on the increase (figures below collected from Forestry Commission published data):
2008: 18,900 hectares were restocked and 7,500 hectares were planted. Total managed forest was 1,266,000 hectares.
2009: 16,100 hectares restocked, 6,400 planted, total managed forest = 1,283,000 hectares.
2010: 15,100 hectares restocked, 5,400 planted, total managed forest = 1,288,000 hectares.
2011: 14,000 hectares restocked, 8,200 planted, total managed forest = 1,325,000 hectares.
2012: 11,000 hectares restocked, 12,700 planted, total managed forest = 1,365,000 hectares.