What’s the best natural flooring when you have a pet cat? What type of hardwood is eco-friendly, yet can also withstand the abuse of a pet’s nails? Is there a finish that will be less likely to show scratches? These questions were top of mind a few months ago when I was looking for eco-friendly hardwood flooring. There were several criteria that were important, but I wasn’t sure if it was possible to find everything I wanted in one product. I wanted a natural floor that was made from sustainable wood or bamboo, it had to be tough enough to withstand Furball digging his nails into the floor for traction, and it had to look good. Happily, I found a couple of eco-friendly flooring options.
My initial preference from a green perspective was to look for bamboo floors over wood. However, I’d heard from a friend’s real estate agent that bamboo didn’t age well and would look like worn out in only a few years. As I did more research, I learned that it’s actually the cheap bamboo that doesn’t wear well and if you purchase from a quality and reputable company, this shouldn’t be an issue. As well, the durability of the floor also varies depending on what type of bamboo finish you choose.
If you’re looking for a durable eco-friendly floor for your cat, or even your dog, here’s what I learned.
Two very reputable companies for bamboo flooring and other eco-friendly hardwood floors are EcoTimber Flooring and Plyboo made by Smith and Fong Co. EcoTimber has been around since 1992 and they carry bamboo flooring and FSC certified exotic woods and regular hardwoods. All of their products are made with a formaldehyde-free adhesive. Smith and Fong is the first company to produce FSC-certified bamboo plywood and flooring. The salesperson said that the product quality from both companies was very comparable. Choosing one over the other would really depend on the colour and finishings we preferred, availability and the price as there occasionally were special promotions.
The key to choosing a bamboo floor that will withstand scratches from a pet’s nails really boils down to the grain. There are three predominant types of surfaces when it comes to bamboo flooring:
1. Flat Grain
The best way to describe this is to imagine a bamboo shaft. Lay it flat, then slice it lengthwise into rectangular pieces. Then take these rectangles and lay them side by side. The flat grain floors show off the natural knobs and segments of bamboo.
2. Edge Grain
To picture edge grain bamboo flooring, go back to your image of the lengthwise rectangular pieces. Now, instead of laying them flat next to each other, turn them on their edges and then place them side by side. This results in narrow repetitive strips, where you don’t really see the bamboo’s natural texture as much.
3. Woven or Strand Grain
In my opinion, this style of bamboo floor finishing most closely resembles natural hardwood flooring. Basically, take all of the leftover scraps from the previous two finishes, throw them into a machine that mangles them together, mix with adhesive and then form a floor with it. That doesn’t sound that attractive, but the end result is a lovely random pattern that is also more durable than the other two grains.
Pick a dark finish and now you’ve got a natural hardwood floor made from a green sustainable resource. It’s durable, hard-wearing and most importantly, it will hold up well to cat scratches and dog’s nails too.