Sustainable Woods

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From rubberwood to cork, there are lots of choices

Today there are lots of choices in sustainable woods. Here are just some of them. To find the most sustainable wood, look for FSC certification, which guarantees that the product comes from a well managed forest.

Rubberwood

Rubberwood flooring

Similar to maple wood, rubberwood is a medium, fine-grained hardwood that comes from sap-producing trees.

About 90 straight-trunked, 75-foot-tall rubber trees grow in an acre of land. Mature trees are around three feet in diameter. Over 26 million acres of rubber trees are bring grown in Asia, Africa, and America. When they get to be 30 years old, they no longer yield enough latex, and they are felled. They used to be burned or chopped up for firewood, but now the wood is being used in furniture, flooring, and construction.

The pale cream to yellowish brown wood has a beautiful grain, and it’s strong, flexible, and resistant to fungus, bacteria and mold. Shrinkage is minimal.

Lyptus Wood

Lyptus wood

Weyerhauser is manufacturing Lyptus, a wood product from eucalyptus. Lyptus is tough and exotic looking.

The hybrid eucalyptus trees grow quickly and can be harvested within 14 to 16 years of planting in a managed forest. One-third of the harvest area is left in native vegetation. Lyptus engineered flooring is ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, or basements.

Bamboo

Bamboo is really a grass, not a wood. Although it’s been highly touted for its good environmental qualities, bamboo has some major drawbacks.

Bamboo flooring from DuroDesign

Its short growth cycle makes bamboo renewable and sustainable, but it’s grown almost exclusively in China, which means it has to be shipped a long way. It doesn’t require any pesticides during growth, and after three to six years it’s harvested and cut into strips which are steamed under pressure. The longer it’s steamed, the darker it is. Then it’s dried in a kiln, and the strips are glued together to make larger pieces which are stronger than many hardwoods.

Unfortunately, the glues used to bind the strips often contain VOCs and formaldehyde. And, in extremely humid or wet areas, bamboo can be prone to mold, so using a sealant is advisable.

Cork

Cork tiles from DuroDesign

Cork flooring is made from the leftovers in the wine cork industry. The corks come from the bark of the cork oak tree which grows in the Mediterrean and is harvested every 10 years. The leftover pieces are ground and processed into sheets that are baked in a kiln.

Cork is renewable, comfortable and durable. It’s also anti-allergenic and resistant to insects. Other benefits are its ability to block sound, shock absorption, durability, and diverse colors and looks.

Posted by on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010. Filed under Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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