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Sustainable Flooring Options

| 2/23/2015 8:24:00 AM

When choosing new flooring, watch your step. You'll often hear the phrase, “Kitchens and baths sell homes” and that's mostly true. But in my experience as a northern Virginia Realtor, it’s not the whole picture. Yes an ugly, outdated kitchen will be a turn off for many buyers. But so will flooring. When a buyer first walks up to a home, curb appeal is the first thing they see. But flooring is the second. Imagine you open up the door and you look down to watch your step coming into the home. What’s the first thing you see? Is it a beautiful wood floor or neutral colored carpet? Or is it a linoleum from the 1970s? Yikes! Before that buyer has even made it to the kitchen or bathroom, they’ve already started thinking about how much money, time, and effort it will take to replace the flooring that they cannot stand. The color and the type can be a turn off to potential buyers, so choose wisely. And when you are trying to remodel or build a sustainable home, choose even more wisely.

There are really two things to think about when choosing your floor: your home’s location (region) and your sustainable options.

Thinking regionally matters a whole lot. If your home is in the Northeast, a home with tile throughout is not common and will not appeal to the majority of buyers for instance. Instead, the buyers that see your home will be thinking about all the negatives of replacing all or most of the flooring in a home. If you don’t know what’s common in your region, then here’s a pretty quick homework assignment. Go to any one of the major real estate websites. Type in your city or state to see the homes that are currently on the market. Likely the second or third photo in, you will see the types of flooring used throughout the home and once you’ve seen a common theme of flooring choices; tile, carpet, or wood, you get the idea of what’s considered common in your location. But don’t discount the appeal of alternative choices like concrete, cork, or recycled tile. These choices could be close enough to the more common flooring options out there, but a much more sustainable option.

Thinking regionally also matters to the materials sourced. If material you choose is considered sustainable (recycled, reclaimed, easily renewable resource for example), but it is sourced and delivered from another part of the world, then you have to consider the products overall sustainability qualities. Does it have a large carbon foot because of where it was sourced, manufactured and then delivered? Or if it was sourced from another country, at least be sure that it was part of a sustainably managed forest. Does its packaging adhere to the overall sustainability of a product? Getting this detailed can take a lot of time and effort. So some companies are starting to use terms like “cradle to grave” sustainable.

In my home, I chose 2 sustainable flooring products; one I love and one that I am not so fond of. So here’s my review of those. I also want to mention that I have no brand affiliation and there are many companies with similar products.

One of my favorite companies trying to achieve a “cradle to grave” sustainable flooring product is FLOR, which produces carpet tiles. “At FLOR, environmental consciousness is built into every sourcing, design and production decision we make – like manufacturing over 95 percent of our product line in the USA; offering a Return & Recycle Program to turn old FLOR into new products; and, transitioning our entire collection to 100 percent recycled fiber.”

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