Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Using Recycled Materials in the Home

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, huge old-growth pine trees were harvested in New England, cut into logs, lashed together into rafts, and then floated down rivers to saw mills further south. Sometimes, though, the logs became waterlogged and sank to the bottom of the rivers where they’ve remained ever since, preserved by the cold, silty water. Now in the 21st century, these sunken logs are recovered and marketed as alternatives to new-growth wood products. The use of recovered sinker logs is just one way homeowners now can participate in the green movement, using recycled materials in their home’s construction or renovation. Other companies marketing to residential customers sell products such as reclaimed wood from demolished buildings, carpeting made from recycled soda bottles, countertops made from paper or from reconstituted cork, and roofing made from plastics and other recycled materials. If you want to build an eco-friendly home these days, many opportunities are available.

Recovered and Reclaimed Wood Flooring

Recovered wood flooring typically comes from those 100-year-old sinker logs. Several companies throughout the United States now harvest this beautiful old-growth wood from river bottoms, dry it, and cut it into planks. Although more costly than contemporary flooring ($5 to $30 per square foot as compared to $3 to $12 per square foot), recovered wood has been shown to be richer in color, harder, and more durable.  Contact your local lumberyard to find distributors.

Reclaimed wood flooring comes from old buildings that are being demolished. Whether a 300-year-old house or a 150-year-old textile mill, these structures yield thousands of board feet of planking that when refinished become beautiful flooring for any home. Reclaimed wood flooring can cost anywhere from $4 to $30 per square foot depending upon the age and species of wood used. Since reclaimed wood is not common, you might have to do some research to find a source; again, start with your local lumberyard. Green CarpetingSome companies now make carpeting from recycled materials. GreenFloors® has a line of residential carpeting made from 100% post-consumer recycled food and drink containers. One square yard of GreenFloors carpeting, they boast, keeps approximately 40 plastic containers out of landfills. The company offers a variety of attractive styles and colors of carpeting, which range in price from $11.07 to $24.57 per square yard (material only).

Peerless Carpets, a subsidy of Beaulieu of America®, manufactures a line of carpeting made from 100% recycled soda bottles (PET). Since this is the same material used in such products as tires and seatbelts, it must meet stringent federal strength requirements, making the carpet very durable. Their FLPLAS-Carpet is available in 24 different colors for about $22.50 per square yard (material only) and may be purchased with a 100% recycled pad as well. Countertops Made with Recycled Materials A variety of eco-friendly options are available for residential countertops, such as those made by PaperStone®. This attractive, extremely dense material is made from 100 percent post-consumer paper infused with a water-based resin. Paperstone® countertops are heat-resistant up to 350 degrees, emit no harmful VOC (volatile organic compounds) gases, and achieve a Class A fire rating. According to their website (www.paperstoneproducts.com), using a PaperStone® panel instead of a same-sized traditional solid-surface countertop panel saves 1,233 gallons of water, 2.03 million BTUs of energy, 131 pounds of solid waste, 254 pounds of greenhouse gases, and 55 pounds of petroleum-based phenol. PaperStone® is priced to be competitive, with high-quality solid surfacing and granite countertops at around $75 per square foot installed.Another green option for residential countertops is made by Suberra®. These countertops are 100% post-industrial recycled cork, made from the bark of trees harvested to make wine bottle corks. Because cork contains suberin, a waxy substance, it is naturally impermeable to water and germs, allowing Suberra® cork to receive the highest rating for resistance to contamination by E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. Suberra® cork countertops cost about $44 per square foot for material only, putting them in the same price category as PaperStone® or granite countertops. Roof Shingles Made with Recycled MaterialsAnother product for the home now made from recycled materials is roofing. Enviroshake®, based in Ontario, Canada, makes a composite product that looks just like a cedar roof shake without the wood’s susceptibility to insects and rot. 95 percent of the materials used in Enviroshake® are reclaimed materials from post-industrial plastics, recycled rubber, and cellulose fiber materials. Their products cost about 10 percent more than traditional wood shakes but are warranted for 50 years and need no maintenance.

Another company, EcoStar from Albany, New York, manufactures an environmentally friendly product called Majestic Slate™.  This product, made from 80 percent recycled materials, looks like slate roofing, has a 50-year warranty, and is available in 10 popular colors. In addition, Majestic Slate™ is much lighter than traditional slate roofing.  Recovered/reclaimed wood flooring, carpeting made from recycled plastics, and roofing made from other recycled materials are just a few examples of the many products available to homeowners who wish to build or renovate their homes in an earth-friendly way. If you’re interested in going green on your next house project, consult your architect or builder or do some research on the Internet. The opportunities for eco-friendly residential construction are plentiful and are growing more numerous every day.

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