Green scene

Eco-floor? Hooray for jolly wood!


Carpets and children are never a good combination. This is something I have learnt the hard way. My stubborn, barefoot addiction to a high pile has meant that, until recently, comfort won out over practicality every time. But with three children, several dogs and a cat, I have finally resigned myself to the practicality of wood flooring.

Because wood is so aesthetically pleasing, I’ve realised that this is no hardship: despite its hardness and durability, wood is warm and welcoming. I’ve also twigged, however, that not all wood floorings are created equal.

The ‘greenest’ type of wood flooring is reclaimed, and as most of it comes from older trees, the wood is denser, with fewer knots. Buying reclaimed wood also saves on carbon emissions used to log the trees, transport them and turn them into floorboards: the only ‘floor miles’ involved are getting it from the warehouse to your home. It can be expensive – though it will pay off over time, as it lasts so much longer than carpet – but a great plus is that your reclaimed flooring is unique. (Try, or your local reclamation yard.) 

If you’re buying new, the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo means the wood has come from a well-managed forest, where cut trees are replaced with new ones; FSC certification takes into account the rights of indigenous people, too. A PEFC logo is another reassurance; it stands for Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes.

But even FSC- or PEFC-registered wood products may have come from ancient woodland, which take 100 years to reforest. A wonderful source for wood that I’ve found is Bernard Dru, who uses oak from his own woodlands on Exmoor, seasoned by traditional methods ( 

Engineered wood flooring is another reasonable eco option: this uses only a thin hardwood veneer as a top layer glued to wood from fast-growing trees such as pine. However, a lot of engineered boards are made with a glue that contains formaldehyde, which is then slowly released into your home, so ask your supplier for a board with a zero or low level of formaldehyde.

You could also try floating floors: these fit neatly on top of any type of flooring and just click together ( sell many types, including oak, alder, maple, ash, hornbeam and elm).

Personally, I’m enjoying treading a little more lightly on the planet as I, my children (and our menagerie) walk on my so-smooth wooden floors…


Roughly 1.7 million tons of carpet ends up in landfill each year, taking anything up to 250,000 years to degrade.

Out of the woods

  • Think about using recycled wood whenever you can. Delightful Living, for instance, will make any sign you want (including house signs) using reclaimed wood and water-based paints;
  • Many towns now have local wood recycling projects which offer valuable employment and retraining opportunities as well as the chance
    to commission unique pieces. I especially like some of the items made by the Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project (, which makes everything from grow-bag planters to amazing one-off garden tables.
  • Ronseal’s high-performance eco-woodcare products will help look after your wood without releasing ‘nasties’ into your home;


Branch lines


Reclaimed wood mirror, from £75,, Two-storey ‘sparrow house’ from reclaimed wood, £25,, FSC-certified reclaimed teak garden table, £315, guardian

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