Sustainable Hardwood Floor Options

If you're considering a new hardwood floor, but want to stay true to your earth-friendly ideals, you're in luck, here's a long list of sustainable hardwood flooring products.

| March/April 2007

hardwood flooring

Properly installed, high-quality hardwood floors can last for decades, and even add value to a home.

Photo By Fotolia/Maksym Yemelyanov

Hardwood flooring has long been a popular choice among homeowners. It's beautiful, easy to clean, and unlike carpet, doesn't harbor harmful chemicals, dirt or dust mites that can affect indoor air quality. Properly installed, high-quality hardwood floors can last for decades, and even add value to a home.

If you're considering a new hardwood floor, but want to stay true to your earth-friendly ideals, you're in luck, there's a long list of sustainable hardwood flooring products to choose from. We've assembled a few to get you started. Keep reading for a list of companies that provide them.

  • Certified Wood Flooring
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a nonprofit group that promotes environmentally responsible forestry practices. Companies can offer peace of mind to consumers by displaying the FSC's stamp of approval, which is awarded by third-party organizations that ensure certain stewardship standards have been met.

You don't have to sacrifice your options when you choose responsibly. A wide range of flooring woods come with the FSC stamp, including cherry, maple, birch, ash, Douglas fir, oak and more.

  • Reclaimed Wood Flooring
As the name implies, timber salvaged from old buildings, river bottoms, or even trees removed from urban settings can become your new hardwood floor. The finished product can have either a like-new or antique appearance, and comes in a variety of lengths and widths. Availability can be unpredictable, so plan as far in advance as possible.

  • Suppressed Wood Flooring
From time to time, a forest can become overly dense, resulting in disease and fire susceptibility. Small trees in the forest's understory are the casualties of the unavoidable thinning-out process, but there's good news: They make excellent hardwood floors.

  • Less Expensive Wood Flooring
Some softwoods, such as pine or spruce, also make excellent lower-cost floors. To learn more about choosing and installing softwood floors, go to

Once you've chosen the perfect wood floor, don't reverse your efforts to lessen your home's impact on the Earth by using toxic finishes and adhesives during the installation process. Water-based products are less energy-intensive to manufacture, less polluting when disposed of, and less threatening to indoor air quality.

Where to find:

Certified wood

Dwight Lewis Lumber/Lewis Lumber Products
Picture Rocks, Pa.

Cascadia Forest Goods, LLC
Dexter, Ore.

Plaza Hardwood, Inc.
Santa Fe, N.M.

Tembec, Inc., Huntsville Division
Hunstville, ON, Canada

Reclaimed Wood

Ewing, N.J.

Elmwood Reclaimed Timber
Kansas City, Mo.

Vintage Timberworks
Temecula, Calif.

Big Timberworks, Inc.
Gallatin Gateway, Mont.

Vintage Material Supply
Austin, Texas

Suppressed Wood

Green Mountain Woodworks
Phoenix, Ore.

4/28/2015 6:53:01 PM

As I begin to put wood flooring into my home, I have been debating on whether I should use hardwood, or softwood. And in all honesty, I did not have much clue to what the difference was. But reading through your website, it really showed me the difference between the two woods, what I should expect from the wood in the future, and the different prices that they both cost. So thank you for this information, it has really influenced my decision on what would I should use!

2/11/2015 4:26:01 PM

I really appreciated your article, Alison; is reclaimed hardwood flooring a standard option with flooring services? I want to get new flooring in my kitchen, but I'm trying to be more environmentally aware of my material choices. Should I just ask the different suppliers in my area?

6/17/2014 7:16:56 PM

The trend nowadays is to go green and my recently-opened gift shop has an environment-friendly theme. These sustainable flooring are all good options and I will consult with my husband which one is the best to use for our shop. Thanks,

owen king
4/1/2012 2:41:58 AM

Often time the "green" finishes are harder on the environment than the "harsh" finish that I use. The finish I use is not listed as "green" but is much better for the environment than any of the "green" finishes I've ever seen. One it's self resealable if you scratch it you just wash the surface and wipe a new layer on and let dry, two it lasts for decades, three since it's water tight it require fewer chemicals to clean the cured surface, four it requires less total product in the same time span, and five requires less total time applying the product less fuel to manufacture and transport.

bernie lenhoff
10/11/2007 12:00:00 AM

One San Francisco Bay Area source of hardwood flooring made from locally discarded urban trees is Green Waste Recycle Yard ( The ubiquitous blue gum eucalyptus, despite its reputation as a useless wood, makes excellent hardwood flooring when properly dried and milled.Eco-consumers should note that the carbon footprint of locally sourced and manufactured products is going to be lower than products that are shipped long distances. An added benefit to milling urban trees is that they would otherwise end up decomposing in landfills, producing highly potent methane and other greenhouse gases.

alison rogers_3
3/26/2007 12:00:00 AM

Thank you for your comments. Bamboo certainly is a great sustainable flooring choice. Asscociate editor Charles Higginson wrote about it in October (see "The Lowdown on Bamboo Flooring," This tip was meant to help those interested in hardwood floors make good choices. Alison Rogers, Assistant Editor

laurie barrow
3/24/2007 12:00:00 AM

I am really disappointed that you are not concidering bamboo as a good choice for flooring. We have had a bamboo hardwood floor for over 2 yrs. It is fantastic, easy clean HARD, etc. It is a renewable resource, takes roughly 3-5 yrs to maturity. The cost wasn't much different then the average hardwood, and according to everything we read is tougher, and more fire retardent. Plus it installed over a very unlevel floor & has shaped to fit, rather then buckle.

irene radke
3/23/2007 12:00:00 AM

What about bamboo, which I hear makes great floors and grows F A S T and is environmentally friendly.

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