Wooden floors – the greener choice?
We’re all much more ‘environmentally aware’ these days. We buy line-caught tuna to help save the oceans, we use a ‘bag for life’ at the supermarket and we buy organic food wherever possible. In our homes we’re also going greener, with solar panels, improved cavity and roof insulation and a host of other energy-saving measures. So how do wooden floors rate on the ‘Envir-o-meter’ if you’re trying to go green?
Actually, they stack up rather well for a number of reasons. Firstly, as long as they’ve been properly treated and any gaps in between boards have been carefully filled, wooden floors are surprisingly thermally efficient. Wood is a natural insulator and, while many people think that carpeting makes a home warmer, often the reverse is true. Why? Because underneath those carpets are old, worn out boards that are letting heat leach away.
Have your floor boards properly filled, sanded and varnished and you’re sealing all those gaps and preventing draughts and cold air bringing a chill into your home. As we’re all trying to save money on your heating bills, anything that cuts the cost of keeping our homes warm during the winter has to be welcomed.
Cutting back on landfill…
Carpets eventually wear out – they either become old and tatty or we just get tired of that avocado green twist-pile that really doesn’t go with our new minimalist look. So we rip out the old and it’s in with the new. The trouble is, if you’re trying to go green then disposing of that old carpet is actually very difficult to do without adding to the UK’s ever-growing landfill problem. It’s almost impossible to recycle an old carpet, particularly if it’s been woven using a man-made fibre. By choosing to go with wooden floor boards rather than carpeting, you can be certain that you’re not adding to the mountain of waste being buried under our feet every day, so it’s a greener choice all round.
A cleaner environment at home
To clean a carpet properly takes a plethora of different chemicals, some of which are not particularly environmentally friendly. If you want to minimise the use of harsh cleaning chemicals around the home then switching to wooden flooring is again a far greener choice. A simple wipe over with a damp mop is all it takes to keep your floors spotlessly clean.
It has been suggested that the accelerated usage of cleaning chemicals in the home could be one of the root causes of the increase in occurrence of some skin conditions such as eczema. This distressing condition is particularly prevalent in young children, and can cause genuine discomfort for little ones. The jury is still out as to whether there actually is a direct correlation between the use of harsh cleaning chemicals such as carpet shampoos and eczema. But having wooden floor boards could reduce the chances of antagonising the condition by minimising the need to use chemicals in the first place.
Is the initial cost worth it?
While the initial cost of having your wooden floors professionally filled, sanded and varnished may seem high, don’t be tempted to treat it as a DIY project yourself. Your wooden floors, if professionally treated, could represent a major investment into your home, increasing its value, cutting your heating costs and creating a cleaner, greener environment for you. Also consider the cost of floor sanding and polishing, which will last a lifetime, against the cost of replacement carpeting over the years and you’ll find that wooden floors win every time on value for money too. So the initial cost is most definitely worth it, and you end up with a real talking point of any home décor too.