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Published on November 26th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans

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Sustainable Wood Flooring

Why is it important to look for sustainably and responsibly harvested wood flooring sources for your home projects?  The simple answer is that the world’s forests are disappearing at an alarming rate, and taking a bit of time to seek out sustainably harvested and underutilized options will have the planet and its future inhabitants thanking you for generations to come!  It also seems that, in this industry, only consumer interest creates market options for eco-friendly alternatives.

Sustainable methods ensure that trees are not harvested at a rate faster than nature can replenish them.  For this reason, rediscovered, reclaimed, reused, recycled, and salvaged are all excellent terms when paired with “wood”—they describe wood taken from deconstructed buildings, landfills, farming and shipping industry, natural disaster sites, and logs derailed in transport that sit on river bottoms.  Keep in mind some may need to be dried before installation.

These reused, old-growth forest options are often much higher quality than what you’ll find from newer woods, and they’ve had time to settle, so shrinking and warping will not be an issue.

  • Be wary of any tropical hardwoods and look for underutilized local and tropical options that escape notice as big industry gouges forests in search of flawless wood to meet consumer desires.
  • Salvaged wood will show “character,” sometimes in the form of bolt holes, discolorations, or wood “blemishes” that can be worked into the natural feel of a home.
  • Watch out for toxic adhesives, coatings, and lead-based paint that could appear on some reclaimed wood products.

Resources:

  • While lists are great, quick-reference resources, keep in mind that often it is not a type of tree at risk of endangerment but the area-specific forest from which it’s being harvested.  Search certified forests by area or species, and certified companies by category, company, or product at the Certified Forest Product Council’s Web site.
  • The FSC provides certification for companies and products with sustainable practices—search their database by company or forest.
  • If you cannot purchase FSC-certified wood for any reason, the U.K.-based Friends of the Earth Good wood guide allows you to search by name for endangered species to avoid





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