After a three-week hiatus, the highly anticipated final entry in Locus’ favorite green materials for the home. I conclude with green products.
1. Paperstone. Made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a “petroleum-free resin”, it can be made into counters, desk surfaces, vanity tops, exterior siding, and even bathroom stall partitions. You might hope the paper you toss in the recycling bin comes back to you inexpensively as Paperstone – but not so. We’ve found it to rival concrete and lesser expensive granites. The colors tend to be in the darker spectrum, but (unlike stone) the surface is not cold to the touch. www.paperstoneproducts.com
2. Vetrazzo. Made primarily from recycled glass and cement, Vetrazzo is a striking – and pricey – surface. We’ve yet to use it, but it’s only a matter of time. www.vetrazzo.com Both Paperstone and Vetrazzo can be found – and fondled – along with a few other locally produced options – at Natural Built Home in Minneapolis.
3. Linoleum. Manufactured from renewable materials (linseed oil, wood flour, jute), linoleum patterns range from the mundane to the wacky. Colors aren’t in short supply; you can find the color your grandmother had on the laundry room, or another that has more in common with a Jackson Pollock canvas. Typically used as flooring, we’ve also used linoleum for desktops, table tops and wainscoting. We typically specify Forbo Marmoleum, but there are others on the market. While poking around the Forbo site, take a look at the bulletin board products, a great wall surface for a kid’s bedroom.
4. Cork. Cork is a renewable material, the self-repairing bark from the cork oak tree, a native of the Mediterranean. Harvest of the raw material requires stripping the bark from the tree, a process which apparently does not damage the tree. Harvest may commence after the tree’s twenty-fifth birthday, and can repeat every nine years for as many as 20 harvests. The finished flooring product comes in a variety of colors and can be installed “glue down” or “floating”.
5. Bamboo. We did an earlier post on bamboo. See it here.
6. Crossville Ecocycle. Don’t like the thinner resilient flooring? A stained concrete radiant floor not your thing? Consider tile. Crossville, a tile manufacturer based in Tennessee, is one of a handful of tile makers to add recycled material to a product line. Granted, clay isn’t the easiest thing to reclaim, but the Ecocycle line has 40% recycled content. We’d still prefer you buy tile at Clay Squared in Minneapolis and support our local artists, but if that’s not in the cards, Ecocycle is a good and relatively inexpensive green option.
7. FLOR. If you’re somebody that just has to have carpet, consider FLOR tiles. Manufactured with very low VOCs (volatile organic compounds – think “new carpet” smell), FLOR will take back carpet when you’re done with it. They don’t just chuck it, but turn it into new carpet product. If the myriad of FLOR options still isn’t grabbing your attention and you’re headed elsewhere, try to avoid nylon choices and consider a quality wool carpet. It’s more expensive, but a good quality wool carpet might outlive you! It also cleans easily in most cases. Not so with nylon. For a more custom approach, contact Kelly Marshall of Custom Woven Interiors. She’ll make a rug for you that will become a family heirloom.
8. Warmboard. Warmboard allows homeowners with hardwood floors to enjoy radiant heat. A thin aluminum plate molded to a structural subfloor is pretty much it. Simple? Yes, but very clever. The manufacturer has figured out how to press the plate into the channels for the tubing. Install the tubes, put down the floor and you’re done. The manufacturer is convinced a low-thermal-mass composite is better for most homes – and with that, we STRONGLY disagree for our cold climate. Nevertheless, we like the product for homeowners that want wood radiant-heat-floors. www.warmboard.com
9. Navien Hot Water Heaters. My friend, Bob Alf, is a local green contractor in the Twin Cities. He sent this along to me a few months back. “A recent arrival is now head-and-shoulders better than anything on the market, Navien. It is a condensing unit, 98% efficient. Get’s more gallons per minute than anything else at a 70+ degree rise. Solves the ‘cold sandwich’ issue with a mini-buffer tank. Also has a recirculating pump with timer so you can shoot instant hot water to a far away fixture without wasting much energy. Also a stainless Steel exchanger, with the best warranty in the business. Plumbers love them because the venting is easier to install than any other unit.” Sounds good.
10. Paints & finishes. Having trouble finding environmental finishes? Paint your walls with Yolo Paint or a milk paint. Lucky enough to have concrete floors with plenty of thermal mass? Try Ecoprocote concrete stains in lieu of acid-based products. Finally, for wood floors, we prefer Rubio Monocoat – a plant based finish for wood floors that is easy to clean and repair.