Deciding between wood flooring or stained concrete flooring can be a difficult decision given the benefits offered by each. First ask yourself what qualities are important to you. Do you want a surface that is easy to maintain? Long lasting? Inexpensive? Take a look at the many design options offered by each material to find which style works with the look you plan to create.
Stained Concrete Flooring
Stained concrete flooring has many environmental and cost benefits. Most concrete is made from recycled materials. You can specifically ask your concrete professional for a concrete with high recycled content. Additionally, concrete has a high thermal mass index meaning it has the ability to store and release heat slowly, significantly reducing energy costs. Other cost benefits include labor, maintenance and lifespan. Installing concrete floors is much less time consuming than other flooring options such as tile or hardwood. Additionally, properly installed concrete flooring is resistant to chipping, fire, sunlight and water damage -- minimizing the need for maintenance.
Don't feel as though you would be sacrificing style or design to get all of the other benefits either. You can achieve a sleek, stylish look with a simple one-tone concrete floor or you can choose faux finishes that mimic marble, sandstone and slate so well that anyone will be fooled.
Wood flooring is without a doubt one of the most elegant flooring options. The beauty and durability of wood flooring increases the overall value of a home or business. Although the lifespan of concrete floors is significantly longer than wood floors, wood floors last much longer than carpet or other types of artificial flooring. Because wood is a rapidly diminishing natural resource, it's best to look for wood types that are "rapidly renewable," that is, natural resources that mature in 15 years or less, such as bamboo or cork. If you can't find a wood type that suits your design that is rapidly renewable, ask about recycled wood flooring. Many wood floors are made from recycled wood taken from old ships, factories and buildings, giving your home or business character and a connection to history.
Making the Decision
If you are still torn after extensive product research, consider the most environmentally friendly option. This will vary person to person, region to region and according to available flooring options. In general, concrete has more environmental benefits and less environmental impact. But, if you can find a recycled wood or rapidly renewable wood, the call can be close. Weigh the environmental and cost benefits closely to make the right decision for you and the environment.
How to Research
If you want to make sure you are selecting a product that is good for the environment and right for you, a little research is needed. If you have chosen wood flooring and want to find a recycled wood option, make sure you are getting what you ask for. Ask the recycled or reclaimed wood dealer to show a certificate for the reclaimed wood. If you would like to use a renewable wood, check buildinggreen.com. This website lists green products of all sorts including reclaimed wood and rapidly renewable materials. For concrete, ask the manufacturer to provide the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to verify recycled content percentage.
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