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Community and Q&A

Green flooring for bathroom?

chrisjohnston2112 | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hi, I’m building a new home and am looking for bathroom and utility room flooring advice. I was thinking about linoleum but was quoted $6.49 a square foot for a linoleum floating floor (forbo flooring, local business). That was for materials only, and more than my hardwood! I thought about cork but was told it should not be in bathrooms.

Any advice appreciated!

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  1. Riversong | | #1

    Forbo Marmoleum is a relatively green flooring option, but it can delaminate in standing water and it requires a specialized installer to do the job right.

    I prefer tile on thinset. There is an almost infinite variety with a wide variation in cost. Generally, a glazed tile is used in bathrooms.

  2. 2tePuaao2B | | #2

    You might consider the opportunity to install radiant floor heat in a bathroom floor if you're not too far along with the plan.

  3. Sharon Frederick | | #3

    Agree with both posts 1 & 2. Radiant heated tile is great in a bath. Bamboo is also a nice green alternative.

  4. Riversong | | #4

    The only thing "green" about bamboo flooring is that it's a grass that can be harvested every three years. But most is imported from China, sometimes grown in clearcut forests and harvested by underpaid workers, is boiled or heated and carbonized (embodied energy), includes formaldehyde binders and dyes that might include heavy metals, and some is installed with high VOC mastic.

  5. user-659915 | | #5

    Cork is perfect for bathrooms, it is naturally soft and warm underfoot and needs no subfloor heating. It does need to correctly installed and maintained of course but it beats tile on a cold morning any day.

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    Most people would probably choose tile, but I have built (and lived in) several homes with wood-floored bathrooms. It's up to you.

    Some people like polished concrete as a finish flooring. I've never lived in a house with a concrete floor.

  7. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #7

    Chris, the greenest floor might be one that uses recycled materials. At our local ReStore (run by Habitat for Humanity) there are many small lots of tile. You could design an interesting pattern if you couldn't find enough of one type.

    Cork, linoleum and wood can all work in bathrooms if you don't have standing water, and if you accept that they will get "beat up" over time.

    It's hard to beat tile for durability. Glazed tile is easiest, but unglazed porcelain or stone tiles can be sealed and often have a softer, more natural appearance. Again, you have to accept that unglazed tiles will show patterns of wear over time.

  8. Riversong | | #8

    Re-purposing building materials through outlets like ReStore is a wonderful way to divert stuff from the landfills back into productive use.

    But let's not assume that recycling is, in itself, "green". Beware of lead paints on re-purposed wood.

    A more striking example is that for decades we've been "recycling" or "re-purposing" various inorganic fluoride compounds - which are industrial waste products of the phosphate fertilizer, aluminum and nuclear industries - into public drinking water supplies on the pretext that it prevents tooth decay.

    Fluoridation of drinking water is considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as "one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century."

    Yet a 2006 report by the National Research Council of the American Academy of Sciences stated:

    The current “maximum contaminant level” for fluoride, 4 parts per million (ppm), was set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect adults from crippling skeletal fluorosis, a severe arthritic bone disease. The NRC advises EPA to lower this standard because of strong evidence linking fluoride to bone fracture, joint pain, and damage to teeth.

    The NRC also notes a growing body of scientific research linking fluoride exposure to disruption of the nervous and endocrine systems, including the brain, thyroid and pineal gland. According to data presented in the report, the doses of fluoride associated with thyroid disturbances are now exceeded by many Americans – particularly children - living in so-called “low fluoride” (1 ppm) areas.

    In 1992, speaking on the Canadian television program Marketplace, former EPA scientist Robert Carton claimed that "fluoridation is the greatest case of scientific fraud of this century."

    In addition, over 3,038 health industry professionals, including one Nobel prize winner in medicine (Arvid Carlsson), doctors, dentists, scientists and researchers from a variety of disciplines are calling for an end to water fluoridation in an online petition to Congress. The petition signers express concern over "The admission by federal agencies, in response to questions from a Congressional subcommittee in 1999-2000, that the industrial grade waste products used to fluoridate over 90% of America's drinking water supplies (fluorosilicate compounds) have never been subjected to toxicological testing nor received FDA approval for human ingestion."

    So some artificial materials, which should never have been produced in the first place, do not become any "greener" when re-used.

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