The lifecycle of laminate flooring includes some elements that are eco–friendly, such as the ability to be made with
recycled content and/or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified content and other elements that are not entirely green,
such as the common use of formaldehyde and petroleum–based products and energy–intensive manufacturing processes.
Other factors about laminate flooring's lifecycle that should be taken into account include the harvesting and manufacturing
processes, transportation of the finished laminate product, installation materials and methods, as well as care and
maintenance products used on your floors.
You can use this section to learn more about the complete lifecycle of laminate floors and learn about when laminate
flooring is an eco–friendly green floor covering and when it is not.
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Acquiring Resources for Laminate Flooring
Green laminate floors are often made using a large percentage of recycled materials (generally post–industrial wood
products such as wood saw dust and trimmings, paper, and agricultural materials). This minimizes the need for new raw
materials, whose harvesting often depletes our natural resources.
When new resources are harvested, many environmentally conscious laminate manufacturers do so using sustainable and
responsible methods. For example, they often create "forest management plans" in which they do not clear entire
forests; instead they selectively harvest only a portion of trees, do not use pesticides, and also replant new trees to
replace what is harvested. For more information on responsibly managed forests, visit the Forest Stewardship
Council (FSC), an organization dedicated to sustainable forestry.
Manufacturing of Laminate Flooring
When it comes to manufacturing laminate flooring, there are several factors that can make or break the
eco–friendliness, or greenness, of a particular floor. For floors to be considered green, the manufacturing process
should have no negative environmental impacts or negative impacts on one's health. This can be a very difficult objective to
master as there are many factors to consider.
For example, the manufacturing of a laminate floor should not emit large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), not
contribute to ozone depletion or global warming, and not create unrecyclable waste. Additionally, water, energy, and
resources should be used resourcefully (i.e. collecting rainwater and using wind–power or waste–to energy) and
used in a sustainable and responsible manner.
When laminate manufacturers have taken these steps to make their flooring "greener", they are often eager to
tell the world about it, as they should be, and will list this information on their website and in product literature. Spend
some time researching manufacturers and what steps they have taken towards promoting environmental responsibility before
making your green laminate purchase.
Transportation of Laminate Flooring
Laminate floors were introduced to the market in 1984 by a Swedish company called Pergo. Much of the laminate flooring
used in the world is still produced in Europe resulting in lengthy shipping when sold in the U.S. Longer transportation
distances result in more fuel usage, which not only increases our dependence on petroleum, but contributes to pollution and
There are several laminate flooring manufacturers that use locally sourced materials and manufacturer their products here
in the U.S. as well as other areas worldwide. For the most eco–friendly laminate floors, choose those that are sourced
and manufactured locally.
Installation of Laminate Flooring
Laminate floors are installed over an underlayment, commonly made of foam, rubber, or cork, and are installed by either a
glueless, glued or pre–glued installation method. There are also laminate flooring installations that come with an underlayment pre–attached which reduces the installation time. Laminate
floors are not attached to the subfloor but allowed to "float" above it, expanding and contracting with climate
conditions. Some products are glued together, while others are glueless and simply snap or click together.
When it comes to eco–friendly laminate installations, a glueless installation is preferred for two main reasons: It
is easier to install and requires shorter labor times than a glue–down installation, and also because it eliminates the
need for glues, which are often urethane based, contain latex, and can off–gas harmful volatile organic compounds
(VOCs). When a glueless installation is not possible for your green laminate floor, you can sometimes choose
eco–friendly glues such as those that meet E1 or E0 standards (European standards for formaldehyde content) for those
deemed to emit low VOCs.
Care and Maintenance of Laminate Flooring
Laminate floor care is pretty basic. Daily sweeping and damp mopping with a little water will often keep your floors
looking fresh and clean. When using additional products to clean laminates or maintain their beauty, many of these products
can emit harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To avoid endangering your health chose products that do not have negative
effects on indoor air quality (IAQ) or the environment. This includes laminate cleaning products that are deemed low volatile
organic compounds (low VOCs) and those that are biodegradable. For information on how to properly clean and maintain laminate
floors, visit FindAnyFloor's section on Laminate Floor Care.
Disposal, Reuse, or Recycling of Laminate Flooring
At the end of a laminate floor's lifetime, it can be disposed of in a landfill, where some of the layers may biodegrade
and others will not, or it can be reused or recycled. Recycled laminate is often burned as waste–to–energy,
depending on whether or not it contains materials that are environmentally safe for incineration. Some local recycling
facilities may be able to recycle your old flooring, though you may have to pay a fee to do so.
Laminate floors that are in decent condition with no water damage and no structural issues can often be safely removed and
reused. Local thrift shops or second chance stores, community centers, and other local organizations are often grateful for
donations of usable flooring. In addition, you may be able to sell laminate flooring that is in good condition to an
architectural salvage warehouse or online using websites such as eBay or craigslist. Or, better yet, you can use your old
planks and tiles for a variety of crafty DIY projects. Visit this article titled Recycle Your Laminate Flooring at Home for creative ideas on recycling leftover planks and tiles into
other usable items.
For more information and for help buying eco–friendly green laminate floors, visit FindAnyFloor's section on Green Laminate Flooring – Buying Questions.