The Foundation of Your Healthy Home
Natural flooring creates a comfortable foundation for everything in your home. You need good quality surfaces in your home and flooring plays an important role in the appearance of your interiors. Although you could leave the floors as mud or cement, just imagine how it would affect the rest of your house. Besides being obviously dirty, it would not be even and the look would be somewhat rugged.
There are so many choices available in natural flooring, and all of them will improve the beauty and comfort of your home.
Cork Natural Flooring
5 Reasons to Buy Cork Natural Flooring
You probably can only think of two things when you think of cork...bottle corks and cork boards. But cork is also a fabulous flooring material. Cork is fast becoming one of the most popular natural flooring materials, here are a few of the reasons:
#1 Environmentally Friendly
The cork oak tree grows in the Mediterranean and the cork is harvested from the outer bark. This bark is mainly used for wine stoppers, but because so many wine producers are using plastic corks or even screw-tops, economic and environmental problems have developed in cork producing areas. Cork oak forests are the habitat for many species of animals and birds including Barbary deer, Iberian lynx, black vulture and the imperial Iberian eagle. The great thing is - only the outer layer of bark is used, so the tree does not have to be cut down.
#2 Insulation Factor
You are looking for ways to cut your energy costs - cork natural flooring will certainly help with this. Cork's insulation properties will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer because of its natural insulation factor.
Another benefit: Sound insulation. Cork is a soft material and absorbs noise. You could use it on the floor or walls to limit noise from entering or exiting the room. Great for a music room or a play room where things can get LOUD.
Although cork is a soft material, you'd be wrong to think that it won't be able to withstand everyday life. Look to see what protective coating the manufacturers give when buying a cork floor. If it has been treated with several acrylic, urethane or wax layers, it will most likely be guaranteed to last for 15 years.
If you like a variety of choices, then you will enjoy picking your cork floor style. Cork has many different visual effects. The options available will depend upon the supplier. You also need to ask about the density of the cork because this affects how much abuse it can withstand. The thickness should also be at least 3/16 inch and a density of at least 30 pounds per cubic foot.
As you shop for a cork floor, you will see it in the form of tiles or laminate "floating floors". Tiles are good if you have a smooth flat surface to lay them on. If your floor it rough and uneven, then the "floating floor" is the best choice.
#5 Health Benefits
You may have allergies and be looking for a floor covering which is hypoallergenic. Cork is the ideal material for you. It does not absorb dust, does not shed microfibers, or contain polyvinyl chlorides.
Even the average DIYer can install cork tiles and floating floor click systems. You could choose the more expensive route and have it professionally installed. Before you do, make sure that you unwrap the plastic and leave the cork in the ambient temperature of the room for 3 days. This will allow the cork can expand and contract with the heat and cold before installation. Cork is often used as an underlayment for wood or bamboo.
Costs about the same as hardwood flooring.
Bamboo Natural Flooring
Advantages of Bamboo
Bamboo is strong and flexible and lasts as long as most hardwoods, if not longer.
Bamboo can withstand as many pounds per square inch as medium grade steel.
It is naturally repellent to certain insects and bugs and is able to resist moisture.
It does not shrink or swell as much as other commonly used woods for flooring, resulting in less holes or gaps in the floor. It is excellent to use in kitchens or baths, (places that can have high humidity).
Bamboo flooring can be purchased in two different variations and over 30 stain colors matching any room and it can even be installed using the same tools you use to install any other hardwood floor.
The grain patterns come in two varieties as well; vertical and horizontal grain alignment. Horizontal alignment lets you see the joints on the grass which will give your floor an even more beautiful all-natural look.
You want flooring for your home that will be long lasting and durable. You do not want to install a floor only to have to replace it in a few years, so you need to choose a floor that will stand up to the test of time. Bamboo is a strong floor that is actually harder than most of the standard hardwoods. In fact, it was given a strength rating higher than maple and almost double that of red oak!
One nice feature of bamboo flooring is that it is a water resistant floor covering. Bamboo naturally resists moisture because of where it is grown. In addition, for added moisture protection, bamboo undergoes a lamination process making it even more resistant to warping and gapping.
Because of the excellent moisture resistant properties, it is recommended for use in kitchens and bathrooms where regular hardwood flooring and even laminate flooring types are not usually advised.
Bamboo flooring is the perfect choice for you-the environmentally conscious consumer. Bamboo is a renewable resource, it is a grass plant and not a tree. After every harvest, the plant will grow back to be harvested again, compared to an oak tree, once it is cut, it is gone. A bamboo plant takes only five years for it to reach maturity at 50 feet high. Traditional hardwood trees take at least three decades to reach maturity, sometimes taking 200 years.
The price of installed cork is comparable to the upper end range for wood flooring, and bamboo will cost $1 to $2 more than cork per square foot. Both have several advantages. Bamboo and cork are considered environmentally friendly; both are harvested without killing the tree, which will continue to grow and produce. While cork is soft, insulating,and comfortable, it's also remarkably resilient. It 'remembers" its shape, preventing furniture dents and scuffs, and it's extremely water-resistant. Bamboo resists warping better than other types of wood floors and is surprisingly firm.
Wood Natural Flooring
Wood flooring is making a major comeback as builders and homeowners are looking to increase the comfort, value, and charm in their homes. 'Great rooms' and open floor plans are one reason for woods comeback in the market. Kitchens and family rooms blend together creating a warm, seamless look.
Wood floors are finished with oil and wax to create an antique weathered look, but this kind of finish is less durable in a kitchen setting and will require regular waxing. Purchasing pre-treated wood means there will be less mess and smell during the initial installation. A sealed wooden floor won't need to be waxed and is easy to keep clean with a broom. Resealing every five or six years might be necessary.
Installed hardwood floors usually run between $3 to $8 per square foot. Sometimes its possible to use "reclaimed or recycled" wood from older homes, which can give your house a link to the past.
Other Options in Natural Flooring
Linoleum Natural Flooring
Made of tree rosin, limestone, linseed, cork, and jute. Lasts 40+ years. Biodegradeable, non-toxic, easy to maintain, anti-microbial, comes in a huge selection of fabulous colors, patterns, and borders. Use as flooring, countertops, and walls, and can be used for both residential and commercial applications. Much less expensive than hardwood flooring.
Terra Cotta or Brick Natural Flooring
If you like the feel and durability of tile but want something a little different in the kitchen, brick or terra cotta tiles offer an appealing and unique alternative. Brick flooring pavers come in many textures and colors and can be laid in interesting patterns. They do require some grout maintenance just like tile, and are comparable in cost to tile. Sealants are a good idea for easy cleaning.
Rubber Natural Flooring
A rubber floor is a more commercial-grade features that many chefs have relied on for years.Manufactured rubber flooring today, is environmentally friendly, made from recycled tires, and offers a dazzling array of color choices, including custom colors. Rubber flooring is durable, easy to clean and can really withstand a kitchen's high-volume traffic. Newer types of rubber flooring come in tiles or rolls, and at $3 to $5 per square foot installed, they're comparable in cost to linoleum flooring.
Stained Concrete Flooring
You may think concrete is cold and harsh for indoors, but with the many advantages it offers, you might change your mind. Most kitchens already have a layer of concrete under existing tile or linoleum floors. When the old flooring is pulled up, the concrete subfloor can be rehabbed into a beautiful, durable floor. Concrete floors offer a number of advantages. They are slow to heat up, meaning they help keep kitchens at a comfortable temperature, and they are an especially good fit for underfloor radiant heating systems. Inevitable kitchen spills are easy to wipe up, and concrete floors don't attract allergens like more porous flooring surfaces.
The look of a concrete kitchen floor can be customized with an acid staining process. Stain isn't a paint; rather, it's a mixture of hydrochloric acid that will react with the concrete. Because the stain literally changes the color of the concrete rather than just painting the surface, the finish will never fade or chip—it's permanent. Acid-stained concrete can mimic tile, marble, slate or even hardwood, depending on how the stain is applied. Handy homeowners generally find acid staining a concrete floor to be a relatively simple do-it-yourself project.
After staining, a layer of wax is applied, followed by a layer of sealant, giving the finished kitchen floor a rich, burnished sheen. Maintaining acid-stained concrete floors is easy, requiring only a mop and periodic polishing.
The costs for installing and staining a concrete floor are very reasonable, at about $3 to $15 dollars per square foot, depending on what type of stain and sealant are used, and whether an artisan is used to create patterns or decorative effects on the floor.
Natural Fiber Rugs
Whatever kind of natural flooring you choose - remember to clean it using
natural cleaning products.
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