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Green Tile Flooring – Buying Questions

Recycled Tile Flooring

Tile flooring tends to sit on the fence when it comes to the whole green flooring issue. Many forms of ceramic, porcelain, and glass tile flooring are not considered green or eco–friendly as they require the use of many new materials and are rather energy consuming to manufacture. On the other hand, products like recycled glass tiles and recycled content ceramic tile flooring do have many characteristics of eco–friendly, green flooring.

You can find recycled tiles from flooring retailers, green building material suppliers, or directly from tile flooring manufacturers. Knowing what questions to ask when buying green tile floors will help you choose truly eco–friendly tiles.

The tile flooring professionals here at® have listed some useful green tile flooring questions to use when shopping for eco–friendly tiles below. These questions include; where the raw materials come from, how the tile is transported, what manufacturing and installation methods are involved, and more. If you have additional questions on green tile floors, click on the Live Chat button at the top of this page to connect live with one of our tile flooring professionals.

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Green Tile Flooring Questions to Ask Your Tile Retailer

What is the expected lifespan of this tile flooring product?

Because tile floors are made of a variety of different materials, their resistance to wear and damage can vary significantly. This will directly affect the useful lifetime of the tile floor and, therefore, its eco–friendliness. The shorter its life, the sooner it goes into the waste stream (unless it is recycled or reused). In addition, shorter lifetimes mean more replacements and therefore, more material use, energy use for manufacturing, and so on.

Does this tile floor product carry any green certifications?

There are many organizations out there giving their green stamp of approval to green flooring and buildings such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating and certification program, the Scientific Certification System (SCS), and several others. In fact, there are so many that it can become confusing sorting out which certifications to look for as some are much more valid than others. For help sorting through these green tile certification programs, check out FindAnyFloor's section on Green Organizations and Certifications. Also be sure to check out our section on Tile and LEED to learn how using green tile flooring, adhesives, primers, and other green building materials can contribute towards receiving LEED certification.

Where did the raw product for this tile flooring originate from?

If you know where the raw materials used to make your ceramic tiles or glass tiles originated from, you can get some idea of what its carbon footprint is. To do this, one must consider the distance the materials to make the tile traveled to the manufacturer and then the final product to the retailer, and the type of transportation used to get it there. All of these factors determine the amount of fuel used for transportation, which contributes to the tile floor's carbon footprint.

Is this tile floor made with a portion of recycled content, and if so, how much?

Ceramic and glass tiles are most commonly considered "green flooring" when they are made with recycled content, as this reduces the need for new materials, and the energy used to acquire them. Recycled glass from old windows and household items, such as glass food jars, are good examples of post–consumer products that can be made into recycled glass tile flooring rather than being disposed of in the waste stream. Pre–consumer materials, also known as post–industrial waste can also be recycled back into new recycled tiles. By using recycled content, resources and energy can be saved and, overall, less waste is sent to landfills. With these factors combined, it's definitely worth asking your retailer if there is a portion of recycled content in your new green floor tiles and if so, how much.

Does this ceramic or glass tile flooring meet E1 Safety and Emission Standards?

E1Safety and Emission Standards are the European regulations for low formaldehyde content, which are widely recognized in the U.S. as well. If a product such as ceramic tile or glass tile flooring is marked "E1" it meets or exceeds what is considered to be the reasonable standard for volatile organic compound (VOC)* emissions. If there is no such labeling, check with the vendor. (Don't forget: This question also applies to tile flooring mortar, adhesives, and so on.)

Can this ceramic tile or glass tile flooring be recycled and if so, where would I take it to be recycled?

At the end of its useful life, a tile floor is either reused, recycled, or it goes into the waste stream (or some combination of these). Waste obviously means more resources will be needed to make new tile flooring products. It also means more land being used for waste disposal or incineration, both which are potentially bad for the environment. Many ceramic tiles, as well as glass tile flooring can be reused or recycled instead of disposed of and used to make new eco–friendly floor tiles and other products. Visit FindAnyFloor's section on the lifecycle of tile flooring for more information on recycling or reusing glass and ceramic tile floors.

Can you recommend eco–friendly materials to complete my installation?

When installing glass or ceramic tile floors, there are many additional products that may be required to complete the installation. This can include adhesives, mortar, grout, primers, anti–fracture membranes, self–leveling underlayments, and more. All of these products can be found in eco–friendly options, helping to further promote the environmental responsibility of your green tile flooring installation as well as a healthy indoor air quality (IAQ).

Are there environmentally–friendly tile floor cleaners that you can recommend for this product?

Some ceramic and glass tile flooring cleaners contain chemicals that may be hazardous to one's health; therefore, it is important to read the product labeling before purchasing. Many tile floor cleaners have emissions called volatile organic compounds (VOCs)*. When VOCs go through a process called "off gassing", it can be very damaging to indoor air quality and the health of the residents. Look for low VOC tile cleaning products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. If you have any doubt about a particular product, ask your retailer.

*VOCs (short for volatile organic compounds) are carbon–based chemical compounds that can be found in certain flooring materials, adhesives and cleaners.

If you have more questions about buying green tile flooring, be sure to visit our FindAnyFloor Forums where ceramic tile and stone tile flooring professionals are always glad to share helpful insight and advice.