5 Sleek, Sustainable Hardwood Floor Covering Options For a Small Apartment


This will be the LifeEdited living room, bedroom, and lounging area. Photo David Friedlander.

How do you pick gorgeous, green flooring with an extensive lifespan for a small apartment? This is the next question for TreeHugger Founder Graham Hill, who is renovating his 420-square-foot apartment in New York for the LifeEdited project.

Flooring should and will inform many other choices in the apartment. Environmental criteria for the LifeEdited remodel makes the flooring choice not too difficult -- hardwood and bamboo are already the winning materials for their longevity, beauty, and sustainability.

On the other hand, the vast variation in quality and eco-credentials means it is still possible to choose unwisely. Here's our take on five great, green floor choices.

Do you have a better option? Let us know what and why, in the comments.

1. Foundations Solid Strip Bamboo


Foundations Solid Strip Bamboo. Photo credit: Green Depot.
Foundations bamboo planking has a number of advantages. Shown here in a Carbonized Amber, it is made from Moso bamboo, which isn't cut until it is at least five years old for maximum strength and directional stability.

Moso bamboo is not food for pandas, and is twice as hard as Red Oak hardwood floors. If the Amber seems too dark for the rest of the light and airy LifeEdited aesthetic, there's also a natural Blond choice. Price: $3.82 per square foot.

2. EcoPlanet Hard Maple Muir Woods

EcoTimber. Photo credit: EcoTimber.

This lovely EcoTimber wood product has a number of green attributes -- the wood in the EcoPlanet line is grown and manufactured in the United States, and has earned the Forest Stewardship Council's Pure designation. It's also made with a formaldehyde-free adhesive, and though it does have an acrylic urethane finish, it conforms to LEED designations for low-emitting materials.

The Hard Maple Muir Woods is pale and suits the LifeEdited aesthetic for light-colored flooring. Much more costly than our bamboo choices, the Hard Maple runs around $8.32 per square foot.

3. U.S. Flooring Navarre Oiled Floors

Navarre Montauban Oiled Floor. Photo credit: U.S. Flooring.

Instead of a hardwood floor with a urethane finish, these Navarre FSC Pure-certified hardwoods use an older technique for their finish: natural linseed oil.

When the floor's surface becomes dull, there's no need to sand for refinishing -- just apply a fresh coat of oil (zero VOCs). While a number of the Navarre floors could work in the LifeEdited apartment, Gaillac, Bergerac, and Montauban (pictured) are all oak and have the clean and airy feeling the LifeEdited design spec calls for. The drawback: Pricey at approximately $9 - $11 per square foot.

4. PlybooStrand Flooring

PlybooStrand Flooring. Photo credit: Smith & Fong.

PlaybooStrand Flooring from Smith & Fong seems like the best of the bamboo and wood worlds combined. Smith & Fong was the first fully FSC-certified bamboo flooring company -- the flooring also has no "added" urea formaldehyde.

Strand flooring, pictured here in the Woody Harrelson suite at San Francisco's Triton hotel, has the allure of hardwood, but is actually much harder than Red Oak flooring (like Foundations Solid Strip Bamboo).

To follow the pale flooring choices, LifeEdited would choose Sahara as the PlybooStrand stain. Price is $5.31 per square foot.

5. Teragren Craftsman II Flooring

Teragren Craftsman II Flooring. Photo credit: John Galen for Teragren. Craftsman II long-plank flooring from Teragren has exactly the right contemporary feel for the LifeEdited apartment.

Though its finish is not formaldehyde or VOC-free, it meets the air quality standards of the FloorScore certification. Flat-grain natural seems to be the most unobtrusive choice from the Craftsman II line, and is priced at around $6 per square foot.

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