Engineered wood flooring products are not created equal, and when it comes to making sustainable choices, there’s more to consider than simply where the wood comes from. Every element, from the backing materials and finish to the manufacturing practices, makes an impact on the environment. If you’re invested in buying consumer- and earth-friendly wood flooring, read on to learn about all aspects of production and how to make a truly informed selection.
When we talk about environmentally friendly flooring, we usually think about where the wood comes from. Engineered flooring uses all different types of wood. Depending on the product, the source trees may not be given the chance to mature prior to harvest. This can be devastating to an ecosystem.
Forestry protection agencies like the FSC and PEFC ensure that the harvest is done properly and issue certifications to companies that follow protocols. At Khayeri Floors we use fully mature oak trees grown in France under the watchful eye of the PEFC. If you are buying an engineered wood floor, look for product certifications.
Once the trees are harvested they go to a manufacturing facility for processing. The majority of engineered wood flooring, particularly inexpensive brands, is manufactured in China where both human rights and environmental concerns are well-documented.
Custom operations like ours produce locally and in Europe, where there are far stricter standards in place. We choose to work with two manufacturing locations, both of which follow the environmental manufacturing standard ISO-14001. Unsurprisingly, the country where the product is made is quite telling.
Once floors are fully installed, the backing material—which improves the stability of a floor—is invisible. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. The backing affects the performance of the floor in your house and the environment as a whole.
Inexpensive flooring, sold by non-certified engineered wood flooring specialists, uses a composite, fibreboard, or plywood for backing. These products are held together with resins, which damage the environment. High-quality products, including our own brand, use marine birch, a softwood that is relatively fast growing but also moisture resistant. This means we can avoid using toxic chemicals—and give you a better performing product.
Finishing involves coatings and adhesives that are made from different additives, some of which can be harmful to individuals and the environment. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can become vapours or gas at normal room temperature and when they’re released they can be inhaled. Short-term exposure might cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, or memory problems. Damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system or even cancer can result from long-term exposure. Your best bet is to seek out brands, like ours, that are not harmful to your health. Look for products that contain no VOCs or formaldehyde emissions.
Environmentally sustainable flooring is flooring that harms neither your home environment nor the wider world. By paying attention to how your floors are made—from harvesting right through to installation and finishing—you can rest assured that you’ve made the best, greenest choice.