Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Progress & Green Flooring Options

Believe it or not, our weekend in New Hampshire was ridiculously productive. Well, believe it. Here's a rundown of what we accomplished in a few brief days.

We spent all day Friday with our builder to make the final decisions on all of the exterior options. In no particular order, we will have:
  • HardiePanel Cedarmill® Siding with batten strips in "Heathered Moss”

  • Window, door and roof trim in "Navajo Beige”

  • AZEK decking in "Fawn"

  • Ideal brand Americana series metal roof in "Tan"

We also finalized the location of our sun tunnel in the master bathroom. The rest of the day was spent visiting a lumber yard, flooring showroom and an eco-friendly home store. We are now fairly confident our flooring will consist of:

Living and Dining Room (south facing): Vermont slate (shown below)

Kitchen and First Floor Bedroom: “Mache Style” Cork from Eco Friendly Flooring (shown below)

Stairs, Master Bedroom and Second Floor Bedroom: “Natural Fiberstrand” Bamboo from Eco Friendly Flooring (shown below)

First Floor and Second Floor Bathrooms: Vermont slate

Why are we choosing cork (source: Interiors Green)?
  • It’s natural- Most of the benefits of cork are derived from its specialized cellular structure. Cork has a honeycomb cellular structure and each cubic centimeter contains roughly 40 million hexagonal cells.

  • It’s durable- The softness and give of a cork floor causes less of a grinding action to occur with normal foot traffic than on harder surfaces such as hardwood floors. Cork flooring has a very long life and can be repaired if damaged.

  • It’s soft- The air contained in the millions of cork cells provides a cushioned feel underfoot. It provides noticeable relief for those who stand on their feet for many hours—making it ideal for kitchens.

  • It’s thermally insulated- Cork reduces heat loss in rooms and even body heat loss through the feet. Cork naturally maintains a comfortable median temperature, never getting very hot or very cool. Walk barefoot on a cork floor and the warmth is immediately apparent.

  • It’s anti-allergenic and insect resistant- Bugs, mold, mites and even termites are repelled by cork due to a naturally occurring substance in cork called Suberin. This waxy substance also prevents cork from rotting even when completely submerged under water for long periods of time.

  • Why are we choosing bamboo (source: Interiors Green)?

  • It makes sense. By using bamboo, hardwood forests that have taken decades to mature are not diminished. Bamboo produces new shoots each year and individual stems are harvested from controlled forests every three to five years. If bamboo is not harvested after five years it falls over, unable to continue growing.

  • It’s durable- Bamboo is an average of 13 percent harder than maple. It is 27 percent harder than northern red oak and expands and contracts 50 percent less.

  • It’s made sensibly- After at least three years of growth the bamboo's hollow round shoots are sliced into strips, which are boiled to remove the starch. The strips are dried and laminated into solid boards, which are then milled into flooring boards.

  • I should also mention that I was impressed with both the look and feel of the Vermont slate available at the local flooring store. There was none of the flaking and chipping I’ve seen on the slate at large retail stores. This was a natural, local stone that won’t snag your socks if you walk around shoeless. In winter, thermal mass in the Vermont slate will absorb radiant heat from the sun. During the night, the heat will be gradually released back into the rooms as the air temperature drops, reducing the need for supplementary heating during early evening.

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