Beginning a journey to live more simply…

Flooring.

Monday, June 13th, 2011:

No component or aspect of our project has had more consideration, conversation, and debate than what to use to create the floor of our tiny house. -Though our decision to utilize natural wool insulation certainly may have come close.

The Tumbleweed Tiny House Company plans recommended yellow pine flooring, wich would be quite beautiful as well as very affordable.

For a long while, I was very interested in pursuing reclaimed Douglass Fir. Growing up on the Oregon Coast, I saw entire mountainsides denuded of Douglas Fir and found a great deal of comfort in the thought of reusing/repurposing just a little bit of that resource. This route, however, is just a bit too cost-prohibitive for us at this time.

While I was daydreaming about reclaimed Doug Fir, Gabby was beginning to think about flooring options that were more sustainable in nature, looking into Bamboo and Cork flooring.

After months of consideration and research, we have agreed upon Cork Flooring. As we’ve learned more about this natural option, we’ve become more and more enamored with it. We certainly appreciate the sustainability that surrounds this material.

Cork flooring is generally made from the left over materials from the wine cork industry, finding purpose for potentially wasted material. The Cork Oak tree who’s bark is harvested to provide the material known simply as ‘cork’ is not cut down, but sheered much like a sheep, allowing it to produce for decades -even centuries. The bark of a Cork Oak (one of the only trees that can survive having its bark completely stripped) is harvested in 9 or 10 year cycles, allowing the tree to regenerate and continue to live healthy and provide people in the areas it grows with a renewable resource.

Bamboo had some attractive qualities as well, particularly in the sustainability realm, but what really sold us on Cork (after getting past the initial concern about durability- turns out its really tough stuff!) was its insulating properties. Cork flooring provides a bit of a softer feel underfoot as well as provides for a warmer floor. We felt we could use all the help we can get as our floor is on a trailer and will be exposed to cold air underneath.

We explored several cork floor providers, many offering incredibly beautiful products, and eventually found Bare Naked Flooring, a cork floor manufacturer who’s product is 100% natural with no petrochemical coatings. They offer cork flooring with all natural finishes made without the use of chemicals or toxins. No VOC’s or nasty emissions, just real cork.

We are thrilled with where our floor search has taken us, and are really looking forward to the next step: installation!

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Comments on: "Flooring." (11)

  1. Nice choice with the cork floor! I love the fact it has self healing properties when you damage it. I’m not too sure how you clean the cork though. Do you know how it behaves with water?

  2. Congrats on avoiding the Bamboo. I personally think it’s one of the great greenwashes. While the plant itself is very sustainable, and when used in its natural form, makes for very strong posts, most products, such as flooring, depend on the bamboo being processed and glued with ugly petro chemicals. I’m sure there are greener options, but it’s something I think is better to just avoid. On top of that, the strength of bamboo is along the fibers, flooring causes compression forces permindicular to the fibers, where they can easily dent and crush. While I never used the flooring, I’m been nothing but unhappy of the other bamboo products that I’ve owned.

    On the other hand, while I can’t speak on the duribility, cork is inharently sustainable. Like you mentioned, you can peel the bark every 10 years, but if you kill the tree, you can 30 or 40 for a new one to grow.

    • Thanks Grant. You nailed it exactly on the head here. Gabby and I were leaning strongly towards Bamboo for quite a while, but she began to question the adhesives that bind the strips together. She was suspect, and the more thought she put into it, the potential nasty chemicals involved immediately outweighed the attractive sustainability qualities of Bamboo.

      Your point about the strength vs. alignment of the fibers makes good sense. A great example of how slowing down and thinking about a thing at its most basic and simple level can offer a great deal to the observer. Thank you for sharing.

      Best,
      Evan & Gabby

  3. Floorguy said:

    Here is a sustainably harvested hardwood floor with a zero-VOC finish http://www.stang-lund.com. It comes in engineered as well.

  4. I grew up in a house with cork flooring in the bedrooms. My father built the house in the late 50s. It still remains there and looks good after all these years, mom still lives there! I remember scrubbing it and waxing it yearly. It wouldn’t be my choice, as I’m not into the green ( IMHO bullshit ) stuff. I recently put down Southern Yellow Pine in my small 400 ft2 house, but you have made a good choice with cork It will be interesting to see how it fares over time, please think about yearly updates. Thanks

    • Good suggestion regarding yearly updates on how the cork flooring is holding up.

      Would you mind sharing more info on the IMHO BS? Not sure we recognize the acronym, and would like to know more. We’re always a bit leery of the hype surrounding product choices. While we would like to make as sound of a decision as we can when making a product purchase, we are also aware that sometimes people can take advantage of consumer’s hearts and passions to move a product and make a buck. If you would mind going into greater detail, it would be valued.

      Thanks!
      Evan & Gabby

  5. We found left over oak flooring from someone on Craigslist. He had just the amount we needed left over and was selling his house so didn’t need to hang on to it anymore. He had it for 4 years and we got it for 70cents a square foot. Which is an amazing price. It is already stained and sealed too!! Craigslist and Habitat for Humanity Re-store have been our angels. We got a french door for $100 and a bay window for 300$. We start building next week. Thanks for your blog postings. They are helping me get over the nervousness of finally, after 3 years, starting this project. We ordered our wool from the same company last week. Like you I don’t want anything toxic in my house. And I heard from a woman in Washington with a tiny house that her wool insulation keeps them so very toasty. Off we go to pick up the trailer.

    • Good luck as you begin your adventure! Great finds with your flooring, doors, and window. Nice job reusing materials.

      We’re thrilled that you are using natural wool insulation in your project and hope that you found Oregon Shepherd to be as fantastic as we did. You’ve found other folks using wool insulation in their tiny houses as well? Fantastic!

      Enjoy the experience,
      Evan & Gabby

  6. I’m sold. I looked at the barenakedfloor site and couldn’t find contact information. How did you guys get in touch with them?

    I’m dying to use Wool and cork for my own tumbleweed (modified Lusby/Fencl hybrid), heard about it from you guys of course.

    • Fantastic, Zoe! We sure can’t recommend natural wool insulation enough. Have you considered getting your wool through Oregon Shepherd? They were so gracious and helpful. One of the highlights of our Tumbleweed Tiny House experience.

      We ordered our Bare Naked Cork Flooring through DIY Flooring, an online supplier. There are a few other online flooring suppliers out there that carry this particular brand. Do an online search for Cork Flooring, and you’ll find all kinds of great stuff!

      Best of luck to you as you see your project come to life!

      Best regards,
      Evan & Gabby

      • Thanks for the reply, Evan and Gabby.

        I had already made contacted Oregon Shepherd when I read about your outstanding experience as described in your blog. They seem very nice and I will be contacting them again soon when I have time for a consultation. I will tell them that you said hi when I do, OK?

        Thank you for the DIY Flooring referral. How was your experience with them?

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