In our increasingly environmentally conscious society, “green” living is a growing trend. When considering hardwood floors, there are several ecofriendly choices and alternatives that you can make. Bear in mind that the eco-friendliest choices are typically not the financially friendliest choices, and do have their drawbacks, as do all flooring options.  




It is the popular ecofriendly alternative to wood flooring here in North America, and is praised for its durability and sustainability. Bamboo, typically harvested in China and other parts of Asia, is a grass, not a wood, and reaches maturity in roughly three years, a significantly faster time period than the trees used for wood flooring. To give you some perspective, an oak tree takes approximately 150 years to reach maturity. The United States Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program accepts bamboo floors in its credit system. The bamboo used for flooring here in the U.S. is typically split, flattened, dried, and then laminated in layers with glue under high pressure. Bamboo floors are not stained, but rather are steamed to achieve one of two colors: natural and carbonized (caramel). However, bamboo can be ordered pre-steaming and finishing, and can then be custom stained and finished at the job site.  


On the Janka Hardness Scale, carbonized/caramel bamboo has a rating of 1120, while natural bamboo is quite a bit harder with a rating of 1410. To give you an idea of the hardness these ratings indicate, note that red oak sits on the scale at 1260. Despite its highly praised durability, bamboo floor is susceptible to the same damage as wood floors. The “grain” comes in two looks, depending on how the bamboo is layered (vertically or horizontally). As mentioned, color options are limited—not a problem if you prefer a more neutral color.  


Bamboo can make for a rather beautiful flooring, and is certainly comparable to wood flooring should you wish for an alternative to wood. Its increasing popularity helps its availability, and we do work with bamboo flooring. It is also a very reasonably priced option. 


Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed wood is also referred to as recycled wood. It is “harvested” from existing wood structures rather than from nature. In addition to its eco-friendliness, it is in high demand for its appearance. If character is what you seek, reclaimed wood can deliver it. It is not generally used in rooms that have a modern or contemporary theme, as the wood is not as uniform in look. It is increasingly popular in Arizona as it fits quite well the rustic, country, and western styles of many Arizona homes. Its historical value, strength and durability also recommend reclaimed wood to customers—it has already withstood changes in humidity, weather, and a range of abuses.  


Reclaimed wood earns credits under the LEED green building rating system, and certain products that are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified can qualify under the LEED’s “certified wood” category.  

It is sometimes difficult to find high quality antique woods, and for obvious reasons (aside from low supply and high demand) you are limited in species of wood. In part due to the process of retrieving used wood and making it ready to use as flooring, it tends to be quite expensive.


Cork flooring is unique in that it is produced solely from the bark of the Cork Oak; the bark is harvested from live, standing trees every nine years after the trees have matured to 25 years—they are never felled, and they regenerate the bark. Its extreme durability and elasticity contribute to its appeal. Cork and its by-products are also recyclable. Cork floating floor is made of three-layer, interlocking planks, while cork parquet tiles are glued to the sub floor with a water-based adhesive. Although it is one species, unlike bamboo cork flooring is available in a variety of colors and patterns. Bugs hate cork, and it both has good sound-absorbing properties and is a great option for anyone with joint problems. It is generally thought to be warm and aesthetically pleasing—a good insulator—and while it does not require much maintenance and is more resilient than many woods, it is not impervious to extreme wear or damage.  




OSMO Polyx Oil
Finishes must meet what are called VOC content requirements. The maximum VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content allowed varies by state; Osmo POLYX Profi-Hardwax-Oil falls within the content requirements for every state. POLYX is a quality, solvent-free hardwax-oil, and unlike finishes like polyurethane, which create a plastic-like coating on top of the wood, it instead penetrates the wood to form a sort of “net” with the fibers of the wood. This helps preserve the look and feel of real wood. It is micro-porous, which allows the wood to breathe and moisture to evaporate. It is known for its high wear, water and dirt resistances. Finished wood will not show water spots. This product is composed of natural vegetable oils, plant waxes and resins, and because it does not adhere to the surface but rather penetrates into the wood, it will not peel or flake. This promotes elasticity within the wood and keeps the floors healthy. This finish is repairable, which not only means you never need to refinish your floors, but you can spot repair as needed. Because this Profi-Hardwax-Oil does not contain biocides or preservatives, it is safe for people, their pets and their plants when dry. There are no known allergens at this time.


OSMO’s ecofriendly answer to hardwax oil is more advanced in toughness and simplicity of maintenance, but it does, like the others, require some level of regular maintenance. As with all finishes, your floors are susceptible to normal wear and tear, scratches, water damage, and other external damaging effects. Depending on wood species, degree of sanding, etc., this product can vary from matt to satin-matt in sheen. We do work with this product, but it is not often requested.




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