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Wooden floors

PUBLISHED: 14:31 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:59 20 February 2013

Make the right choice for your floors

Make the right choice for your floors

Wooden floors look fantastic but do they create environmental concerns in our green society? Sam Grey discovers that there are ways to walk the ethical plank in style

CHOOSING a wooden floor can be bewildering, as there is just so much to think about. Will oak, maple, pine or birch look best in the newly decorated living room? This decision is made even more difficult, or some may say more interesting, now that environmental concerns underpin our modern society and questions are asked about the ethical nature of wood products.

Make it sustainable
Talking to Tas at The Floor Shop in Harpenden it is clear that people are slowly-but-surely beginning to take the environment into account when considering a wooden floor covering in their home. He says, 'People in Hertfordshire are becoming more globally aware. I have even had instances where customers have specifically asked for, and paid more for, a wooden floor that comes from companies that use sustainable forests and factories. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and we are set to become far more socially conscious in years to come.'
So what are the issues and what should you be looking out for? Lots of the wood used for wooden floors has traditionally been imported from factories in countries which may not necessarily be ethically felling trees and have huge carbon emission from factories and air travel. The PEFC Council (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes) is a non-profit organisation that promotes the use of wood and paper products from sustainably managed forests. Many of the woods sold in flooring shops - including The Floor Shop - sell PEFC accredited wood. Tas explains that Panaget products, made using sustainable forests and factories, are very popular and look great as well as being green - the factories are even heated and run on recycled sawdust.

Oriental influence
Although still a niche part of the flooring market, bamboo is the choice for those who really want to remain environmentally sound as it is a quickly renewable source. Often people are put off by the aesthetic of bamboo, but it is durable and doesn't warp in moist environments, making it perfect for kitchens and bathrooms. It is perfect for the streamline, contemporary design of many homes and if incorporated into an Asian-inspired design, which is a hot trend for spring 2008, it can look spectacular. Bamboo flooring comes in two colours: light golden blond and caramel. It also comes in two different looks - horizontal and vertical. The horizontal style has 'knuckle' or 'node' patterns, which occur naturally in bamboo. The vertical style is characterised by decorative narrow channels, caused by the binding of bamboo strips, and looks more like hardwood strip flooring.

Add a splash of colour
Of course, if you still want to add a bit more colour to your floors, or simply soften them up a little, a rug can be the perfect solution. There are styles and sizes to suit all tastes - from room-sized rugs which will show off the wood around the outside of the room, to small scatter rugs that will add gentle splashes of colour throughout the house. The rugs will also help protect your floors and will add a cosy new dimension, giving you the best of both worlds.

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