Comparing the Environmental Impact of Hardwood vs. Vinyl And Carpet Flooring

Homeowners have a lot to consider as they’re building a new home or renovating their current one, including which flooring material they’re going to put in their home. While the look, feel, and cost are obvious considerations, it’s also important to consider how your flooring will impact the environment. During an era of fast fashion, plastic water bottles, and disposable packaging, people may not realize the impact their purchasing decisions can make on the environment. If you’re looking to make an eco-friendly choice, there are a few key aspects you should consider, including what the product is made of, its longevity, and how its production impacts the ecosystem. When it comes to flooring, hardwood beats all other options in every category as a green choice for your home. 

Comparing Flooring Materials

One important factor in determining a product’s environmental impact is by looking at its composition. Hardwood comes from a natural, renewable resource — trees! Meanwhile, other materials, such as vinyl floors and carpet, are made of plastic and synthetic fibers, which are non-biodegradable and will eventually end up in a landfill. So, for example, 1,000 square feet of vinyl (plastic) flooring is equivalent to 570,000,000 plastic straws, 70,000 plastic bags, or 27,000 plastic bottles. When you eventually replace your vinyl flooring, that’s the amount of plastic you’re adding to the earth. Wood, on the other hand, is a natural, biodegradable resource that will decompose or can be reused for other projects. 

The Impact of Production

Along with the material itself, another factor to look at is how it’s produced. Compared to other flooring options, the mining, milling, and production of hardwood flooring have the smallest environmental footprint of all flooring choices as there are minimal water and energy usage during production. Carpet, vinyl, ceramic, and other flooring options, on the other hand, use large amounts of resources to produce. In addition, many of these products use chemicals in the manufacturing of the end product. 

In addition to using fewer resources, trees are a carbon-neutral material. This means trees take in carbon dioxide during their growth cycle and produce oxygen, which is great for the environment. Wood can even store carbon during its service life, meaning it continues to store it when it’s used for your floors. This storage helps mitigate climate change by capturing carbon from the atmosphere.

The Lifespan of Hardwood vs. Vinyl

Hardwood’s timeless style allows hardwood flooring to last for generations, especially with the ability to completely change its look with a new stain. Along with style, its durability can withstand the test of time, and solid wood floors can last for hundreds of years. Even if there are imperfections such as dents or scratches, hardwood can be touched up and refinished to look brand new. Unlike hardwood, vinyl and carpet options only have a maximum lifespan of 5-20 years until they’re thrown into a landfill where they will remain for centuries. This is not sustainable and contributes to long-term environmental issues. 

Your Home Environment After Installation

Along with the outdoor environment, you should consider how your flooring choices will impact your home environment. Hardwood flooring directly affects indoor air quality by minimizing the allergen source. Real wood floors are hypoallergenic — this is great news for people who suffer from breathing issues! Wood floors do not harbor microorganisms or pesticides that are tracked in from outdoors as other flooring options can, such as carpet.

In addition to allergens, other flooring options can by harmful to your family and home environment from the chemicals used during manufacturing. Most of these floors come from across the globe from countries not adequately regulated. Most of the time, they have been exposed to high levels of formaldehyde — a cancer-causing chemical. Vinyl flooring is made from phthalates mixed with additives, plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments, and fillers. Phthalates are known toxins, exposing both humans and pets to the risk of asthma, cancer, kidney, lung, and even reproductive health problems.

Make the Environmentally Responsible Decision With Hardwood Flooring

If you’re looking for a healthier option for both your family and the environment, make the responsible decision with hardwood flooring. Centuries of hardwood flooring have proven the worth and benefits as the best investment you can make for your home. If you’re looking to add hardwood floors or staircases, get in touch with the hardwood experts at Barnum Floors. Stop by our showroom or give us a call and our team would be happy to discuss your hardwood needs.

Invest in Your Home With the Hardwood Experts

Stop by our showroom or give us a call and our team would be happy to learn more about your project vision and schedule a time to visit.