Mari Strain, owner of Flooring Alternatives, a green flooring retailer that offers consulting services and ships products across the country, says that the range of sustainable flooring options continues to grow.
For example, there are now more Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)–certified wood flooring products available. “It’s also more recognized,” she says. “LEED helps bring awareness to what FSC is about,” and the LEED program includes points for installing FSC-certified wood.
According to Strain, cork flooring continues to gain popularity, but she finds that although homeowners might use cork in the bedroom, they prefer wood flooring for the main living spaces and resilient sheet flooring for baths and kitchens.
Though her Berkeley, Calif., store didn’t originally carry sheet flooring, Strain now offers linoleum. “For us, it is a low margin and we sell small quantities,” she says, “but it’s part of the green flooring picture. We sell it as a courtesy to clients.” She says that, in the past, natural linoleum required waxing every few weeks; newer versions have a factory finish that homeowners can protect by periodically applying a topcoat themselves.
When Flooring Alternatives opened in 1998, it satisfied a niche market. Now most flooring stores carry cork, and mainstream building suppliers also offer green flooring products.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.