Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Natural flooring - no chemicals needed! Part 2

In Part 1 of my posts on natural flooring, I discussed what we unearthed underneath the carpeting on the main level of my new house. Glorious Douglas Fir floors (read the linked post to find out what I ended up doing with them)!  I was not so lucky upstairs.

Original carpeting (and staging)
Underneath the carpeting and the carpet pad in the bedroom, bonus room and bathroom upstairs was plywood. It's entirely possible that there was some fir floor lurking underneath there but, without pulling it all up, we wouldn't have know the condition of the flooring and figured it was best left to the plywood. So, what kind of flooring would I replace the carpet with?

More carpeting? No, I'm not a fan of carpet. But, that wasn't the only reason I pulled out the carpet in my bedroom upstairs in the first place. The house had been used as a VRBO rental for a number of years and the carpet and pad not only had the distinct smell of dog pee, but the visual evidence as well. We cleaned the plywood as best we could and let it air out in the late August heat in preparation for replacing the flooring.

Cork samples
When I went to Greenhome Solutions to buy Tung oil and citrus solvent for finishing the downstairs rooms (see Part 1), I started checking out their cork options and loved that they carried long "boards" of cork (3' x 1'), rather than the squares I had seen.

I had been looking into a variety of other "wood" flooring options, some of them not so eco-friendly, but after spending some time in Greenhome, I made the decision to use only as natural and non-offgassing products in my house as possible. My Non-Toxic Avenger neurons went all tingly and I was absolutely determined to not make any compromises with what I was choosing. I was totally pumped!

Bonus room
After little contemplation, I went with the Wicanders Floating Cork Flooring, primarily because I loved its looks and its street cred. It's made in Portugal and is Greenguard Gold Certified. I bought a wool underlayment as well. The price wasn't that dramatically different than other flooring either, so why not choose warm, soft cork that is super sustainable?

Installation was a little challenging. It really took two people to install - one holding up the previous board and the other tapping in the next board. It certainly wasn't nearly as easy as other click-lock type flooring systems. I'm not going to understate it - there was a ton of frustration putting it in. But, we managed to install the entire upstairs bedroom and bonus room plus the bathroom.

Tiny bath
The bathroom was more challenging due to the space limitations. Dan worked on that one himself (he is a professional, after all), so I was more than happy to let him deal with all the cutting to fit around the toilet, doorways and other quirks that I wouldn't know how to deal with.

I'm super pleased with how the flooring turned out. Honestly, we almost gave up after the first couple of hours, but we managed to figure out how to install it, working as a team. Yay team! The cork gives the room a wonderful warmth to the floor, which is super important now that temperatures are in the 20s/30s. It is so soft to walk on, yet still durable enough to take a beating from dog nails and general wear and tear. It's naturally mold and mildew resistant and anti-microbial.

How is cork sustainable?

Chillin' in my corky crib
Cork is a plant material derived from the bark of the cork oak tree and is generally produced in Portugal. Cork, actually the bark, harvesting is an environmentally friendly process that's done without cutting down or destroying a single tree.

The cork oak tree must be at least 20 - 25 years old before the first cut is made to its bark and, after that, the cork can only be extracted once every 9 years. These trees live upwards of 250 years, continually regenerating bark. Cork flooring itself is actually a recycled by-product of cork bottle stoppers.

If you're in the market for flooring, I highly recommend cork!

I'll be finishing out Part 3 of this series next week when I write about how we tackled the hallway downstairs. You know, the one where the laminate was glued directly on to the Douglas Fir flooring (sacrilege!).

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