Horizontal grain
Vertical grain

Brazilian Oak
American Cherry
Brazilian Cherry
Brazilian Walnut

Medium Finish
Dark Finish

Prefinished Wood



Walk This Way

Want a Beautiful Floor That Isn’t Wood? Try Bamboo,
Linoleum, or Recycled Rubber.


Wendy Ann Larson, a former managing editor of Remodeling magazine, is now an editor with the Magazine Group in downtown DC.

Homeowners with an environmental bent no longer have to worry about treading on Mother Earth when they choose flooring.

“Green” or sustainable flooring options now extend beyond stone and ceramic. Palm and bamboo have become popular substitutes for hardwood. Cork, reclaimed lumber, even recycled rubber and coffee bags offer yet more choices. An old favorite, linoleum, has rolled back into the hearts of architects and consumers.

What these materials have in common is that they are nontoxic (or at least less toxic) and long-lasting and are either recyclable or made from recycled products.

Whereas once you may have sacrificed stylishness to be green, new eco-conscious materials come in a wide range of colors, textures, and designs.

“Resilient” flooring such as linoleum, vinyl, cork, and rubber—so-called because they are flexible—comes in both sheets and tiles. Sheets create a near-seamless appearance and can be custom cut for medallions and inlays but require professional installation. Easier-to-install tiles lend themselves to checkerboard patterns, borders, and random splashes of color.

The materials aren’t all that’s green: You’ll no doubt spend a little—or even a lot—more on a politically correct floor.

What follows is a rundown of eco-friendly flooring choices, as well as the Web sites of leading manufacturers. Though by no means comprehensive, these sites feature good photographs and contact information to help you find area suppliers and installers.

Palm Reading

For the first 80 years, the coconut does fall close to the tree. But in time, a palm stops producing fruit and must be replaced.

The plantation’s loss has become the homeowner’s gain. Palm makes an ideal flooring material: It’s 50 percent more stable than red oak because it doesn’t contract and expand as much. It’s harder than maple. It’s as resistant to water, scuffs, and stains as the average hardwood, and it offers the look and feel of traditional wood floor.

Available in finished or unfinished tongue-and-groove planks, palm doesn’t emit VOC emissions or require formaldehyde adhesives common to other hardwoods. In dramatic medium- to dark-mahogany colors, the flooring works great in almost any room, even porches, and will likely last 100 years.

Cut Grass

Bamboo offers the look and fell of hardwood—without sacrificing your tree-hugging ideals. It’s a grass, not a tree.

Known for its fast growth, bamboo has a hardy root system that regenerates after harvest, sending up another shoot from the same plant. Available in two colors, natural and carbonated (steamed to a honey-brown hue), tongue-and-groove flooring planks can be specified with either a vertical or horizontal grain and come finished or unfinished.

Think bamboo is soft? This flooring is harder than oak and more than twice as stable as maple. Bamboo trim molding and plyboard for cabinets, shelves, and built-ins are also available, as are bamboo engineered planks in bright colors such as China Red and Deep Ocean Blue.

Green Pages

Want to know more? These Web sites offer practical advice on going green.


Copyright ©2003 by Washington Magazine Inc.