Five tips for eco flooring

A man fixing parquet flooring. Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos
A man fixing parquet flooring. Photo: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos

1. The most eco option when it comes to flooring is using the flooring you already have.

Do you have original floorboards or parquet flooring that can be sanded and varnished, stained or painted? In old houses, there are sometimes hidden gems like original stone or tiled floors that have been covered up for years. They may need a little TLC, but they make a great feature.

2. If you don’t have flooring you can restore, the next best thing is buying reclaimed flooring. Putting period features back into an old property is a good way to add value and increase its appeal when you come to sell, but reclaimed flooring tends to be expensive. A more affordable option is new wooden flooring, either solid wood, or engineered wood (with a real wood top layer).

Bamboo is an eco choice, despite being mainly grown in Asia, because the plants take around three to five years to reach maturity, which is a lot less than a typical tree. When shopping for new wooden flooring, look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo. This shows that the wood has been sustainably sourced - all B&Q wood is FSC certified.

3. One of the most environmentally friendly types of flooring (and the cosiest) is wool carpet. Making a wool carpet uses only about 10% of the energy used to produce a nylon one and wool is, of course, sustainable because sheep re-grow their fleeces after being shorn.

While there are plenty of great British wool carpets (70% of British wool goes into carpet), New Zealand wool carpets also have eco credentials. New Zealand may be on the other side of the world, but every kilogram of wool produced there is said to equate to less CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas than driving an average-sized petrol car for a mile.

Most of the impact of getting wool to market is from land and water use, and Wools of New Zealand (a premium brand of carpets and rugs manufactured to quality standards) works with its producers to minimise that impact. What’s more, a single fleece from a New Zealand sheep will make about 4sqm of carpet, which is double the amount from wool than from many other places.

4. For an eco carpet underlay, try Crumbwool. A collaboration between Wools of New Zealand and Anglo Recycling, this underlay is made from 100% recycled carpet fibres and 100% recycled rubber. Crumbwool uses carpet offcuts, which would normally go to landfill, from British carpet manufacturers, and recycled rubber tyres for the backing.

5. Wool (and cotton) can be combined with other natural fibres in flooring, but you can also get natural flooring that’s purely sisal, coir, seagrass or jute, etc.

This is similar to carpet but tends to have a more pronounced texture. Natural flooring is sustainable and renewable because it’s made from plants that grow relatively quickly, but to temper that, they are usually grown in Asia and other far-flung places.