30 Mar From “Greenest” to “Green”
FSC-certified manufacturing facility does not mean certified flooring or healthy indoor-air quality
If DuChateau Floors were the only company offering a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified hardwood floor with an oil finish that emits no chemicals, we would not be living in the United States of America.
In the land where competition abounds, customers who want the “greenest” product – one that is best for human health and also benefits the planet — are a priority for a number of manufacturers. But so are those who do not have the budget for an FSC-certified product with a finish proven to have low-chemical emissions.
The end result is a selection of products that range from the “greenest,” to the not so “green,” and it is often up to you to know how to tell the difference.
DuChateau Floors, which introduced its oil-finished vintage European hardwood floor to the U.S. market in 2007, is one of the “greenest.” The natural hard-wax oil finish is zero-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), and adhesives used in making this engineered floor are formaldehyde-free. In addition to having FSC certification, the product is CARB-certified, meaning that it meets Phase 1 of stringent standards for formaldehyde emissions set for 2009 by the California Air Resources Board. (See The Greenest of Them All.)
DuChateau’s most visible competition comes from USFloors, which introduced its FSC-certified oil-finished Navarre Timeless Hardwood collection in 2008, after the company obtained FSC-certification for its manufacturing plant in Dalton, Georgia.
“It’s a beautiful, more natural look …,” says Gary Keeble, Jr., marketing director for USFloors. “Polyurethane and aluminum oxide products are still the kings of hardwood and bamboo finishes. But as more retailers understand the advantages of oil-finished floors – superior repair ability, easy maintenance, refined visual and upmarket appeal – the more accepted and familiar oil-finished products will become.”
Certified plant versus certified floor
Many manufacturing plants now have FSC certification. This does not mean that all of the flooring produced there is FSC-certified. It means that the plant can segregate and identify FSC-certified hardwood as it leaves the forest and enters the plant, and the plant can then manufacture FSC-certified flooring. But these plants also manufacture flooring that is not certified. While USFloors’ oil-finished Navarre line is FSC-certified, its polyurethane-finished Carriage House line is not. Both products meet air-emissions standards set by CARB, Phase 1.
Armstrong Worldwide Industries is another example. The company has obtained FSC certification for four of its engineered hardwood flooring plants, but it produces FSC-certified flooring only for special orders that meet a set minimum amount, says Joseph Sumpman, a commercial technical advisor.
Demand drives options, prices
Retail cost of DuChateau or Navarre oil-finished products starts at about $9 a square foot and goes up, depending on style selected. Similar pricing can be found with quality exotics and other higher-end floors.
Availability and style options are increasing across the country. EcoTimber Flooring of Colorado –offering FSC-certified wood with a urethane finish, reclaimed wood and forest-salvaged wood floors — once could only be seen in “green” retails stores but now is gaining presence in the mainstream flooring showroom.
FSC-certified products are not necessarily cost prohibitive. The price of Max Windsor hardwood flooring attracts customer at Brothers Floor Covering in Indianapolis, IN., even when they are not looking for a planet-friendly product. Max Windsor also uses adhesives that meet CARB Phase 1 emissions standards and one of its polyurethane finishes has GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality certification.
In this economy, customers’ choices are being driven by their pocketbooks. They are not walking in the door asking for FSC-certified products because they fear that designation will cost more, but we have sold about 25 floors in the last four months.
Reclaimed wood, which can be FSC-certified, and wood salvaged from urban forestry projects are among Greener Stock’s selection. So is Staybull Flooring (pictured left) – made of leftover wood strips from lumber mills. The company also touts formaldehyde-free adhesives, and an indoor-air friendly finish.
Contact these retailers for more information on DuChateau flooring: Design Works in Spokane, WA, 509-922-9800; Eco Floors in Portland, OR; Division 9 in Woodinville, WA (commercial work only); and Contract Furnishings Mart in Redmond, WA, 425-861-7589.
— Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com