Hardwood flooring by nature is generally considered to be a sustainable material and for all intents and purposes, it is. We all know that the hardwood used in flooring is sourced from trees, and trees, if responsibly managed, will continue to yield wood. At JRK Flooring we depend on the survival of hardwood forests for our livelihood and take conservation seriously. We advocate for refinishing and repair of hardwood floors instead of ripping up a slightly damaged floor and replacing it. Although we are extremely skilled hardwood flooring installers, our true specialty lies in bringing abused flooring back to life. We like to think of it as saving one more floor that might have been designed for the junk heap.
The Way It Was
We have all seen the black and white pictures of the almost mythic loggers, standing tall in flannel, leaning on a seven foot saw with a smirk on their face. These are the guys who first began practicing sustainable forestry. It may seem like they were the villains of the early destruction of the forests, but in reality, these guys were the ones who understood the forest the best. Of course deforestation had been happening on a global scale for thousands of years. Scientists speculate that the native people of Chaco Canyon essentially deforested themselves and leading to the abandonment of the area. The people of Easter Island are accused of completely deforested the island nation, leaving it barren and windswept. Fast forward a bit to the Columbian Exchange, when one of the most valuable exports from the new world was the exquisite timber that readily grew in seemingly unlimited forests. In reality, the Europeans had completely depleted the forests of Europe and had to look to the newly discovered land to source timber for ship masts and castles. In fact trees were a major draw for colonists settling in what would become North America as in Europe, the forests that remained were owned almost exclusively by the aristocracy and unless you were part of the elite it was impossible to gain access. That meant hunting was limited to the very wealthy and made the wide open spaces of the New World much more appealing.
The Turning Point for Hardwood Flooring
Around the turn of the 20th century clear cutting was extremely prevalent and in some areas of the country, the evidence is still very apparent. Vast, open swaths of places like Montana and Michigan were laid bare less than 50 years ago. It was about this time that the the public began to change its attitudes towards clear cutting and non-sustainable forest management. They began to realize that in order to have wood for the future. It is about this time that sustainable hardwood flooring came into the market. With the popularity of hardwood flooring it is critical that responsible use of the resource is practiced. Of course we have our own philosophy, why replace it when we can refinish it.
Common Sustainable Flooring
Although the definition of sustainable flooring may seem as though the trees were grown on sustainable plots of land that is only one part of the equation. Sustainable flooring can be any number of materials and conditions of wood.
Bamboo is a fairly new flooring material that is really gaining prevalence in the industry. In fact bamboo is being utilized in many different industries due to its sustainability. Products that use bamboo are t-shirts, bicycles and furniture making. Bamboo is an incredibly fast growing plant and can be replaced fairly quickly. Not only is bamboo a great option for flooring but it is incredibly beautiful. The look may not be for everyone however and bamboo will not fit in with every decor.
Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring
Years ago when a building was demolished all of the materials were loaded up and taken to the landfill. Today it is a much different situation. Older building materials are being reused much more readily than they were in the past. Entire buildings are being turned into useful materials for new construction. The materials that are being salvaged are bricks, metal and wood. Of course these are not the only materials that are removed for repurposing, but these are the most common. Buildings are literally painstakingly dismantled one brick at a time because these materials are so valuable to consumers and hardwood flooring is no exception. Reclaimed wood flooring is a great option if you are looking for a floor that offers exceptional beauty and an incredible amount of character. Due to the reclaimed nature of the wood, the look is not polished and even but can look somewhat distressed, which some homeowners love. The great thing about reclaimed wood floors is that they could have possibly been part of a barn or a boxcar, and they will bring a sense of history into your home. The downside is that reclaimed wood can be difficult to find, but if you are intent on adding it to your home it is worth the search.
Beetle Kill or Damaged Wood
As bad as it sounds, damaged wood is a great option for hardwood flooring. It can be had fairly cheap and unfortunately there are many trees being devastated by the pine beetle and the emerald ash borer. These bugs drill into the trees and chew out the soft tissue under the bark, killing the tree. The wood is not damaged all the way through and projects with damaged and beetle kill lumber have become very popular. As far as using the wood for flooring what better way to help the forests than assist in the removal of flammable, dead trees?
Cork flooring, much like bamboo is a material that is gaining prevalence in the hardwood flooring industry. Cork is much more dark that many hardwood floors and is really not a hardwood at all. Cork flooring is made from the cork tree and is sustainable because the material grows back on the tree itself. The advantages of utilizing cork is the soft nature of the material. This is also a disadvantage as cork is very susceptible to changes in humidity and will warp quite easily.
So sustainable flooring can mean many things but our version of sustainability is refurbishment of the existing floor. Not only will we save you money on replacement but JRK Flooring can make your old floors look like new again. So give us a call or contact us for a free estimate. We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your business.