ELA’s Guide to Sustainable Green Flooring

header - sustainable flooring

Green and sustainable alternatives are gaining popularity in home improvement projects as consumers are more concerned about health and nature preservation. Green materials in buildings will enhance resident’s health, improve energy efficiency, and reduce waste. There are different brands and options of green flooring; each has different strengths and features. Therefore, you should first determine the needed performance of the flooring and what lifestyle it will support before making a purchase. If you do not need to get new flooring, it may be best to hold off on updating to green flooring because removing it will only generate more landfill waste.

When selecting flooring for your home, it is easy to get overwhelmed by different types of brands and options. So, we created this infographic to help you in decision-making.


Cork - pros and cons($2-$6 per square feet)

Cork comes from the bark of the oak tree which grows in the Mediterranean forests. In order to make cork, only bark is harvested from the tree. This harvesting procedure does not harm the tree, since it will all grow back in 8-12 years and is then ready for the next harvest. There are two basic forms of cork flooring: engineered floating floors and solid glue-down tiles. Engineered floating floors have gained popularity in the last 15 years in comparison with solid glue-down tiles due to its ease of installation and broader style options.

BambooBamboo pros and cons

($5 – $7 per square foot)

Bamboo flooring has recently become a popular choice as flooring. In comparison with wood, bamboo regrows faster by twenty years to reach maturity. In terms of maintenance, bamboo flooring is pretty much similar with hard wood flooring; regular dusting and damp mopping is all that required as maintenance. Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals and excessive water to avoid swelling on edges.

VOC (Volatile organic compounds) are organic materials that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. They are emitted gases (out-gas) from building materials, such as flooring, paint, and doors. Exposure to VOC for an extended period of time will have long term health effects.

Concrete - pros and cons($2 – $6 per square foot)

Concrete flooring is a stylish choice for indoor flooring. It can be finished with colors, stains, and aggregates, giving it a glassy polished look. If you have a radiant heating system (heated floors) concrete flooring will work well with it. Concrete floor is rather low maintenance and easy to clean in comparison with other flooring. Concrete floor has no potentially harmful VOC and inhibits mold, mildew, or odors, making it good for maintaining indoor air quality.

Natural Stone

natural stones pros and cons($2 – $100 per square feet)

Natural stones come in different forms, such as whole pebbles, slab, and tiles. Depending on where the natural stones is harvested, the transportation can add a carbon footprint to the stones, making it less eco-friendly. Some of the more popular choices are marble, granite, limestone, travertine and slate. Since natural stones come in different forms, the absorption level, grade and coefficient of friction (how much traction a tile has) differ. So, depending on the options, some might be easily scratched, chipped, or stained.

linoleumLinoleum pros and cons

($2 – $5 per square foot)

Although people often refer to linoleum as vinyl sheets, it is different from vinyl flooring due to its materials used to manufacture. Vinyl is made using petroleum, while linoleum is made from linseed oil, tree resin, limestones, pigments, cork dust and wood floor. Linoleum is comfortable to walk on for its resiliency allows it to compress and bounce back when pressure is applied. Sheet form linoleum is hard to install properly because it requires careful cutting, so choose tile form linoleum for easier installation.

WoodWood pros and cons

($6 – $10 per square foot)

When selecting sustainable flooring, look for a certification from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and the SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative). These non-for-profit organizations certify sustainable harvesting, social equality and environmental stewardship. They make sure the flooring is sustainably harvested, produced, and transported. There are different options: solid, engineered, and recycled/reclaimed. Recycled and reclaimed wood is milled from past salvaged building materials, such as old barns, factories, and warehouses.

ceramicceramic pros and cons

($1 – $100 per square foot)

Ceramic floor is made with sand and clay. Similar with your ceramic bowl at home, it is baked, molded, and cut into tiles.  It comes in many different forms and grades, making it suitable for different surfaces, such as floor tiles, indoors, outdoors, and counter-tops. With ceramic tiles, grout lines are visible, so higher traffic areas should avoid lighter color tiles and grout.

woolwool pros and cons($2 – $12 per square foot)

Wool carpet is constructed from natural fibers, making it a durable hypoallergenic carpet. Wool carpet is extremely porous for water absorption. Consequently, it is susceptible to mold and mildew growth. Wool carpet should be protected from direct sunlight, and should be vacuumed frequently. In comparison with synthetic carpet, wool requires less cleaning due to its soil and stain resistance. Wool carpet is a green option for the carpet lovers for its recyclable capability.


The fun part about sustainable flooring is that there are different things that can be recycled to make flooring. For instance, there are recycled metals, glasses, clay, cement and rubber flooring. Sustainable green flooring is not necessarily a more expensive or limited option. Hopefully, this guide has helped you to make a better, greener decision.


Contact ELA Home Repairs for with your inspection or repair needs at 800-368- PROS (7767).


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