Green Flooring: Is it Good for Your Wallet?

The words “green”, “sustainable” and “earth-friendly” are popular in home remodeling. If you are conscientious about the environment, you may want to find eco materials for your next flooring project.

But can you protect the earth without blowing your building budget?

Yes! You can save the environment and your wallet if you understand some basic factors.

What Does it Mean to Be Green?

A narrow definition would consider the materials that are used. It would look at if the floor materials themselves were renewable and if they could be recycled. Another consideration is if the material is toxicity to the environment.

But this narrow definition leaves out other sustainable factors of green flooring and these include:

  • Manufacturer: does the creator of the flooring use sustainable factors during the manufacturing process?
  • Longevity and Care: How long does the flooring last after it is installed and how easy is it to maintain?
  • Long Distance: How far does the flooring need to be transported to reach your home? Transportation distance increases the carbon footprint of the flooring.

A New Way to Look at Flooring

Using this new term for green flooring opens you up to more variety of flooring options and gives you some economical choices. For instance, the costs of traditional eco-friendly flooring options are:

  • Cork: $1-$4 per square foot
  • Bamboo: $2-$5 per square foot
  • Recycled Hardwood: $5-$30 per square foot
  • Stone: $7-$35 per square foot
  • Recycled Metal: $30-$70 per square foot

But if you broaden your idea of sustainable flooring, you can purchase materials such as:

  • Carpeting: there are eco-friendly carpeting options available that costs between $3-$15 per square foot
  • Hardwood: if the manufacturer uses sustainable practices in harvesting and manufacturing hardwood it can also be considered green and can cost between $3-$12 per square foot.
  • Linoleum: Few people realize that linoleum is made from linseed oil and is a renewable resource. Linoleum only costs between $2-$5 per square foot.

So if you are looking at purchasing green flooring you can make a choice that is good for the environment but not horrible for your wallet.

You will need to consider how you will use the room and what type of flooring is best to increase the lifespan of the floor and easy to maintain. Then look at the options available based on sustainability, responsibility, and longevity.

DIY Flooring: What do You Need to Know?

When you are remodeling a room or turning your garage into a mother-in-law apartment, you can cut costs by doing the work yourself. The more projects you can tackle, the less you have to spend on contractors. This can sometimes mean the difference between starting the project now or putting it on hold until you can come up with the extra cash.

Many people think that installing flooring is an easy project they can do on their own, but there are some important factors you need to consider when tackling a DIY Flooring project.

1. Skill Level

Not all DIY projects require the same level of skill. If you want a floor that will last and look beautiful when it’s complete you should be at least an intermediate do-it-yourselfer. What does this mean?

  • You’ve completed some basic renovation projects such as plumbing, installing cabinets or painting a room.
  • You have some tools and are comfortable tackling DIY projects once you know what the job entails.
  • You know you can handle a 2-day remodeling project easily.
  • You know how to determine the square footage of a room (Hint: Measure the length and width of a room and multiply your figures).
  • You know to leave room for error (Hint: add an extra 15% to the amount you need for cutting errors or odd shaped rooms).
  • If this sounds like you then we have some basic tips for installing hardwood, laminate and vinyl flooring.

2. Hardwood Flooring Tips

Hardwood looks beautiful when it’s installed and, if it is properly maintained, it can last a long time. If you want to install hardwood in your home here are some things you need to know:

  • Subfloor: You need to have a subfloor before installing the flooring. It should consist of at least ¾” plywood and you should check for squeaking boards before you lay your floor.
  • Barrier Paper: You should have 15lb tar paper or felt paper installed between the subfloor and the wood floor.
  • Extra space: before you lay out the flooring, draw a line with chalk or a pencil approximately 3/8” away from the baseboard. This will allow for the expansion and contraction of the flooring as the seasons change.
  • Face nailing: You should face nail the entire first row of boards as well as all floorboards at the joists. Make sure you mark the joists before you lay the floor so you know where they need to be nailed.
  • First row: You should begin on the longest wall when you lay your first row of boards and place them perpendicular to the joists.

3. Laminate Flooring Tips

Laminate flooring is easy to clean and maintain. Many people prefer laminate flooring in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. If you are looking to install laminate flooring as a part of your DIY project here are some tips:

  • Surface Prep: Make sure the surface where you will be installing your flooring is clean and dry. You will also want to make sure it is flat and that you have removed all wall base and trim.
  • Under flooring: Make sure you purchase under flooring to place between the surface and the flooring.
  • Spacing: As with the hardwood floor, make sure you leave space for expansion and contraction over time. You can purchase spacers to place between the floor and where you will be laying the laminate to make sure your measurements are accurate.
  • Lying Tips: Start with the longest wall in the room and lay the floor parallel to that floor. Make sure that you are working from left to right as you move across the room.
  • Trim and Molding: this is the last step after the floor is laid. When you fasten the trim and molding attach it to the wall, not the newly installed floor.

4. Vinyl Tips

Vinyl flooring may seem like it is easy to install since it comes in long rolls. In fact, it is one of the more difficult DIY flooring projects to tackle. You will want to make sure you are comfortable with your flooring skills before deciding to do this renovation on your own. If you think you can handle this project then follow these steps:

  • Sectioning: Although vinyl comes in one long roll you can’t lay it out that way. You need to add a layer of glue so the vinyl will stay in place and you won’t be able to glue the entire floor and then roll it out. Instead cut large sections of flooring to lie out.
  • Cutting: make sure that you have a place where you can lay the flooring out flat when you cut long pieces. You will want to leave some extra space when you are cutting to allow for adjustments during the laying process.
  • Gluing: Make sure you lay the glue out on the floor immediately before laying the piece. If you can glue the piece quickly after cutting then you will prevent bending or tearing.
  • Lying: Lay the piece into the adhesive then you will want to roll it flat. Make sure you have removed all bubbles before moving onto the next section.
  • Final Cuts: Wait to make the final cuts until after the piece has been laid and you know the neighboring pieces will fit well.
  • Seams: After the entire floor has been laid you need to clean and seal all seams.

5. Enjoy Your Accomplishment

No matter what type of flooring you choose, understand that the project will entail some hard work and a few days to complete. But once you’re done make sure you congratulate yourself and enjoy your accomplishment. You have taken a major step as a do-it-yourselfer and can take on even bigger projects with confidence.