Different Types of Sustainable Hardwood Flooring
Certified Hardwood Flooring
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies wood according to stringent ecological and forest management criteria. The FSC's 57 criteria for certifying sustainable wood range from minimizing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to protecting area wildlife to guaranteeing loggers the ability to unionize. Sustainable forestry practices include selectively cutting down individual trees rather than clear-cutting whole swaths of the forests at once. Sustainable forest managers are also careful to repopulate forests, planting new trees to replace old ones as they are removed.
All FSC certified wood is marked by a Chain of Custody number that traces its roots back, literally, to the source. Many homeowners particularly appreciate this aspect of FSC certified hardwood as it gives their flooring character and a personal history, the story of which they can delight in sharing with family and friends for years to come.
The Forest Stewardship Council certifies most of the same popular hardwoods commonly available for flooring, including maple, cherry and oak. In terms of cost, FSC-certified wood is also comparable to traditionally manufactured hardwoods.
Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring
Reusing wood already processed at least once prior is another way to achieve sustainability in hardwood flooring. This is often the case when people install old barn boards as flooring. These wide, hardy boards are reclaimed from old, unused barns and given a second life as someone's beautiful floor. Other examples of reclaimed hardwood used to make sustainable flooring are timbers salvaged out of abandoned buildings, logs retrieved from river bottoms after dropping from transport boats on the way to be milled and fallen palm trees on coconut plantations. All these timbers are then remilled into hardwoods as attractive as any hardwood flooring produced from new wood.
The benefits of reclaimed hardwood flooring are numerous. Reutilizing previously used wood keeps all that material from ending up as waste and prevents unnecessary impact on existing forests to fill those flooring needs.
As a building material, reclaimed hardwood is typically stronger and longer-lasting than many hardwoods produced today. That's because in the past, most of the wood used for hardwood flooring was made from old growth trees that grew slowly, over a long period of time, creating tighter grains, producing hardwood that was generally stronger, straighter and more attractive.