When I graduated from my Interior Design program I left the big city (Toronto) and began working in the flooring industry. There’s definitely been pros and cons to this switch: I am your go-to girl if you have any questions about flooring, but I certainly miss designing full interiors.
So today we’re covering some soft surface sustainable flooring options!
I love alliteration.
I’m going to be upfront about this, I’m not a big fan of carpet. Like at all. Not only is traditional Nylon and Polyester carpet extremely bad for the environment and a magnet for dust and allergens but it’s a pain in the butt to keep clean with children and two dogs.
However, I won’t deny a good area rug to tie a room together!
Three Eco-Friendly Carpet Options
Option 1: Wool
In my humble opinion wool is the best natural carpet option; it’s naturally stain resistant and flame retardant, not full of nasty chemicals, strong like Nylon and comes from a sustainable source (sheep!) Plus, you can find some super soft wool carpeting.
Good wool carpeting does come with a price. You are likely to pay upwards of $10 a square foot (sf) for 100% wool. If you see a wool carpet that is under $10/sf it is likely a blend with either Olefin or Nylon. Olefin and Nylon work well but they are not-natural and made from plastics.
Like most carpets on the market, almost all wool is treated with flame retardants (even with it’s natural flame retardancy.) If you want to avoid any chemical additives you will need to look for undyed, untreated wool. Bear in mind, untreated wool can become a great home for moths and other unwanted pests.
Once you install wool carpet it will shed. I have seen countless reviews on wool area rugs complaining about how much wool carpet sheds this is normal and natural. You are likely to find lots of excess wool fibers in your vacuum for a couple months (depending on how often you vacuum.) It doesn’t mean the carpet or rug is defective.
it is not advised (and often not warrantied) to use a vacuum with a beater bar attached with any carpeting and especially not a looped/berber carpet. there are a few vacuums on the market that are recommended from the carpet and rug institute, unfortunately dyson is a carpet’s enemy.
Keep in Mind…
When you install a wool carpet or place a wool area rug into your home it is advised to place a wool underlay rather than a traditional foam underlay. Why? Because wool is a natural fiber it needs to breathe. If you don’t allow the air to circulate within it, it can get musty and moldy.
A wool underlay is also more costly than a normal foam underlay ranging around $2/sf.
Option 2: Sisal + Jute
Sisal and Jute are a perfect addition to a cottage/beach-style interior! Although not a soft carpet, this texture works well for statement pieces like area rugs, stair runners and entry mats.
The price for sisal and jute run in a similar range as wool carpeting. Though the prices won’t be quite as high they will probably run you around $10/sf and up.
Sisal and Jute are pretty rough on the feet and therefore aren’t a cozy addition to more interiors. It is likely that you won’t be installing these throughout your entire home. These carpets often come with a latex/rubber backing in order to hold the fibres in place﹣this can be problematic if you have a latex allergy and the latex backing isn’t exactly environmentally-friendly.
Option 3: Triexta
Triexta is a relatively new carpet fibre in the sense that it is not as well known as Nylon or Polyester. In terms of durability it falls in between the two. This is a type of carpet you can use throughout the home; it is extremely soft, strong and stain-resistant.
During production, Triexta is made with up to 37% of corn glucose instead of petroleum. Corn glucose is more sustainable than oil and therefore it is a better choice if you are looking for a more eco-friendly carpet.
Triexta falls between the price range of Nylon and Polyester. It is competitively priced and you can find a good Triexta carpet for an affordable amount of money (anywhere from $2/sf and up.)
Triexta is still a form of plastic, so although it is a more eco-friendly form of plastic it’s plastic. You will also find that this carpet will off-gas after installation for about 24-72 hours (like most other carpets.)
Keep in Mind…
Don’t skimp out on the underlay! A good cushion can really help extend the lifetime of your carpet (which is usually around 10 years.)