Recommend kitchen flooring that's green
February 15, 2009 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I like cork flooring. Will my dog ruin it? Looking for ideas for kitchen flooring, preferably green* and not very expensive. Wacky ideas welcome. *green - least environmental cost

The subfloor is plywood, with ugly, beat up, vinyl tiles. I like commercial grade vinyl, but it's not green at all. Cork is warm and quiet underfoot, but I have a klutzy dog, and I'm worried it would get trashed. Same w/ bamboo. I don't want ceramic tile. I love real linoleum, but it's pricey.

By wacky, has anyone used reclaimed pallets? or? It may come down to what I can pick up on Craigslist. I expect this to happen no sooner than April so I have time to shop CL. A lot of recycled products are not avaiolable here, so would be costly to get.
posted by theora55 to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We have a dog and a cork floor and they seem to get along. I guess it sort of depends how much running through the kitchen your dog does, plus how long her nails are, but one of the nice things about cork is that any dents or scratches tend to blend in with the mottled, organic look of it.
posted by timeistight at 2:06 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: I think cork flooring is really inconsistent in quality -- several friends (two with dogs) have it, and some looks brand new and some looks terrible after just a couple of years. How you tell the good from the bad, I don't know.

Have you considered linoleum, the real kind made from linseed oil? It's green, not that expensive, and can look really nice. Marmoleum is one brand; there are plenty of others.

By wacky, has anyone used reclaimed pallets?

Have you tried taking pallets apart? They are really hard to take apart in ways that give you unbroken wood -- they are usually put together with ring-shank nails that have had a few years to really get attached to the wood. And the wood pieces are of quite different sizes, depending on who made it, so that adds a complication, too. There could be some issues with contamination from whatever chemicals might have spilled on them in transit, too, in theory at least. It would be beautiful, though, if you found a good way to get the wood apart and smoothed off -- take lots of photos and show us all if you take this route.
posted by Forktine at 2:22 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: Go take a look at bamboo. Not only one of the most beautiful floors (IMO, of course), but also much, much more sustainable than the usual woods or lino.

I know you mention concerns about the softness, but have you investigated? I've been told that it depends on the finish and the orientation of the strands.
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:47 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: I have bamboo floors, I love them, but your dog will destroy them. I think cork is likely a better choice and can take a little more abuse than bamboo. I let my friend's medium sized dog in the house once, and it took thirty seconds before the floor sustained irrevocable gouging. Forktine is correct, real linoleum is fairly sustainable (and not all that common) and stands up great to regular usage by people and animals.
posted by annathea at 2:55 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: follow up w/some info to Kickstart70's answer, our floors are "vertical bamboo", supposedly the woven kind is a bit more durable against surface scratching.
posted by annathea at 2:57 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: Bamboo is really terrible if you have dogs. I had it in a brand new, modern apartment once and it took about a week for my ex and our dogs to completely destroy and gouge the entire place.

Even dropping semi-hard things from waist height would put a dent in it. We had multiple places where you could see the imprint of dropped utensils or tools that on other floors would have done nothing.
posted by bradbane at 4:01 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: I have bamboo floors, I love them, but your dog will destroy them.

As a counterexample, we have bamboo floors and a golden retriever whose nails I don't clip often enough, and our floors are fine (after five years). Some of the most heavily trafficked areas show some light wear, but that's about it; I've dropped heavy objects and even furniture on it without any dents. It must be very dependent on the type of floor or the manufacturer, I suppose.

A good flooring place will have samples which they will let you abuse before installation, if you want to test.
posted by ook at 6:04 PM on February 15, 2009

How about tiles made from recycled tires? They use that stuff on playgrounds, so it must be pretty tough, and you could probably easily replace anything that did get damaged.
posted by orme at 6:33 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: Our cork floors are gorgeous, but gouge easily. It is hard to tell-- the damage does blend in and is fairly unnoticeable.
posted by Malla at 7:13 PM on February 15, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, this is just the sort of feedback I was looking for.
posted by theora55 at 7:26 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: By wacky, has anyone used reclaimed pallets?

My husband used to work in a shipping company and said that pallets are treated with chemicals to kill off bugs etc. your also not supposed to burn them for the same reason.
posted by ljesse at 8:30 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: I guess I'll mostly just say me too, but I have a few comments:

Bamboo flooring is all over in quality and sustainability. Consider how far it needs to be shipped to get to you in the equation. Unless you really want the look I'd suggest going with another option.

I can't speak to the durability of cork, but if you know your dog scratches up other surfaces he'll probably scratch that up as well. It just isn't a hard finish material.

Mostly though, I really encourage you to price out Forbo Marmoleum (or equivalent linseed based linoleum). It sounds like it is really what you want anyway, and I'm a bit surprised by your comment about it being pricey. Bottom line is I'd be suspect of the durability of any cork floor system that was significantly cheaper.

Recycled products in general have a good story, but may or may not be the best match. You mention shopping Craig's List. Unfortunately the one product that I'd think you may be able to find would be short batches of left over ceramic tile from various construction projects. Another possibility may be if you get lucky and find someone taking up wood flooring and are willing to do wood in the kitchen. As someone mentioned, don't use crates or pallets as they are likely pressure treated.

I know how tempting it is to get something sooner, but I really encourage you to spend the time and save up for whatever floor you really want and can afford. A product that gets ripped out in five years is less environmental than one that stays in place for fifteen almost regardless of what they are. Likewise, consider the maintenance (another reason I also like natural linoleum).
posted by meinvt at 8:45 PM on February 15, 2009

Best answer: I've heard lots of different things about cork, but I want to share my experience. My grandparents had it installed over 50 years ago (my mom now lives in their house) and it is absolutely beautiful. Aside from some worn spots in front of the sink it has held up great. I think previous poster is correct about there being a big difference between the various grades.
posted by carterk at 9:34 PM on February 15, 2009

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