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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide




Ask Habitat: Is Environmentally Friendly "Green" Flooring Available?

New York City

Aug. 25, 2014

And many carpet companies now offer product lines that are made from a percentage of recycled materials. A traditional, tufted nylon carpet, like the ones used for hallways, can start at about $6 or $7 a square yard. Carpets with some percentage of recycled content cost only about 10 to 20 percent more. Both last about the same time (roughly 10 years) if properly maintained. 

Hybrid Car(pet)

Another type of green carpet is one that is made of a blend of traditional nylon and bio-material. Hybrid carpets have a similar lifespan to traditional or carpets with recycled content.

Natural wool carpeting — one of the longest-lasting and most durable floorings — might cost about $45 a square yard while a nylon carpet of comparable quality would cost about $35 a square yard. Wool also often looks better longer because it sloughs off layers as it ages.

For entryways, stairs and landings, another option is rubber flooring. Natural rubber is harvested from the rubber tree much like maple syrup, making it a renewable resource. It also can be dyed many colors and printed with textures; it costs between $7 and $10 a square foot. 

Other rubber flooring options come from recycled tires. One, called "tire crumb,” is made up of ground up tires that are molded into tiles or rolls of material. That product can be used in hallways and landings and costs between $6 and $8 a square foot.

Another recycled rubber product is made from strips cut from tires. Like tire crumb tiles, this product gives buyers fewer options in terms of color and style than natural rubber. It runs about $8 to $12 a square foot. Rubber flooring is used in high-traffic areas like airports and can last from 20 to 60 years.

Linoleum for the Laundry Room 

Another option to consider is natural linoleum. Linoleum is made from a combination of natural substances, such as linseed oil, ground limestone, wood and jute. It can be dyed almost any color and the pigments are all-natural. Linoleum can be installed in places where vinyl tile would be considered, such as hallways, laundry rooms and other common areas. It generally lasts about 25 years and costs about $7 a square foot.

Cork flooring is made from the post industrial waste of the wine stopper industry. Those leftover materials are ground up, formed into blocks and then sliced into tiles, which are coated with a sealant. While cork is more commonly used for commercial spaces or unit interiors like bathrooms and kitchens, it could be used for some common areas of condos and co-ops.


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Adapted from "Cover Me Green" by Jennifer V. Hughes (Habitat, January 2008) 

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