“People are moving towards a sustainable way of life and the natural flooring market is starting to pick up,” says David Morley, of Authentic Natural Floors in Stockport. Natural floors also look great and often have health benefits as well as being kind to the environment – check out the options here.
The most common stones used for flooring are marble and granite, although slate and limestone are also possibilities. The beauty of stone lies in the fact that no two pieces are the same, each has its own unique colour and pattern. Added to that, stone is a hygienic, strong and long-lasting flooring option. Even though it’s a porous material, if sealed and maintained properly stone can last decades. This is an expensive option though that requires professional installation.
Seagrass is formed when salt water floods paddy fields in countries like China and Japan. Seagrass is used as a natural carpet material, is very durable and can take spillages well because it’s impermeable. This does mean that seagrass cannot be dyed so it comes only in its natural shades of beige, green and brown but you can layer colour on top using rugs. Maintenance wise, seagrass simply needs vacuuming and should last around 5-10 years.
David says that seagrass is one of the cheaper natural flooring options but must be fitted properly. “Natural fibers tend to move and shrink according to the humidity, so flooring fitters would need to go back and adjust the work accordingly,” explains David.
Coir is similar to seagrass in that it lasts around 5-10 years, is cost-effective and simply requires vacuuming. Made from the natural fibres inside coconut shells, coir is fairly durable and waterproof.
Linoleum is made from linseed oil and wood or cork flour, with a canvas or burlap backing. The most well-known brand of linoleum is Marmoleum, which comes in over a hundred colours and designs and because the pattern runs through the lino, it will not fade when the material wears away. “Marmoleum is really taking off in America at the moment because it’s so eco-friendly,” explains Craig Marshall, from BU Interiors in Surrey. “We are expecting it to become more of a trend in the UK soon.”
Linoleum is completely sustainable and has natural health benefits as linseed oil repels bacteria. Lino is easy to clean and doesn’t attract dust, which means it is a good choice for those with asthma or respiratory problems. Lino is often used in hospitals, schools and care homes for these reasons but it is ideal for the home too. Good quality, bonded linoleum can last around 25 years and is scratch and stain resistant to an extent. To prevent damage make sure that you sweep regularly and don’t saturate the floor with water.
“Sisal is our biggest seller,” says David. “It is the hardest-wearing natural flooring material; it also has natural health benefits.” Sisal is made of natural fibres extracted from leaves of the Agave Sisalana, a plant that grows in hot climates like Africa. Sisal flooring is so tough it can last up to 30 years and is very low maintenance. Sisal is a slightly more expensive option costing around £28-9 per square metre and as with other natural flooring, requires specialist installation.
Wooden floors remain a hard-wearing, stylish flooring choice. “The most popular solid wood flooring is Oak,” explains Craig, “People like the grain and the dark look of it.” Hard woods like Oak work best on floors but you can still use soft woods like pine if you prefer.
All wooden floors however do need to be applied with some kind of finish to protect them from rotting or warping. “You will need to regularly reseal and oil a wooden floor,” agrees Craig. Maintenance wise you should sweep or vacuum using a hard-floor attachment often. “You should check the manufacturer’s advice to find out which cleaning products to use,” Craig suggests.
“Bamboo floors are a very big thing at the moment,” points out Laurence Warburton, from Wood Works Flooring in Kent. “People are really into it because of the environmental aspect.” Not only is bamboo a natural and sustainable flooring option, it is cost-effective and can be stained into many different colours which has made it an attractive option. “Manufacturers are coming up with all kinds of colours like cognac,” says Laurence.