Timber flooring is a timeless interior design element, adding tonnes of class to your rooms and able to fit in with just about any style imaginable. The problem for some people, however, is the impact using all that wood has on the environment.
In this age of climate change and disappearing forests, people are more concerned than ever about using wood anywhere they can avoid it. And it's a legitimate concern, but it doesn't mean you have to forgo a real timber floor.
As long as you choose with care, you can enjoy wooden floors without a guilty conscience, as there are options available that are as environmentally-friendly as they are attractive. Here's are some of the best choices.
The important thing to remember is that there's no such thing as a flooring timber that's always sustainable. Although there are some materials that are more likely to be grown and harvested sustainably, it's still important to check the source and look for certification. In particular, FSC-certified timber is checked by the forest stewardship council, a reliable organisation that doesn't give out its certification lightly. With that in mind, it helps to narrow down your choices by looking at the most likely candidates.
Bamboo is unusual because it's not technically a wood, although it certainly acts and appears like one when it's used in flooring. Because of this, it won't carry FSC certification, but the good news is it's almost always from a sustainable source.
The reason bamboo is such a great material is that the plant grows quickly, so there's no destructive use of old trees when it's harvested.
Of all the timbers available for flooring, oak is the one that's most commonly grown in countries that take environmentalism seriously. This makes it a good candidate for finding FSC-certified wood, and it's also a beautiful, classic, durable material to boot.
Cork is harvested from the bark of the tree, so there's no actual cutting down involved, and it eventually grows back. Don't think of the soft, fragile material that stoppers your bottle of wine: Cork processed for flooring is hardy and looks great.
For some, this is the best option, as it opens up the possibility of using any type of wood you can find. Using timber that's repurposed from old buildings means there's no need to cut down more trees, although you might need a bit of luck to find what you're looking for.