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Sustainable resilient flooring

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With so many options to choose from, there’s no excuse for not specifying green, says Hattie Hartman

When it comes to resilient flooring, numerous green alternatives to conventional products are available. Natural products, such as linoleum, cork and rubber, tick the important sustainability boxes: they are renewable and non-toxic.

Online specifying tool GreenSpec rates linoleum ahead of cork and rubber. FSC certification of cork forests and rubber plantations is in its infancy. According to Dalsouple, only one rubber source is FSC certified and its quality is not adequate for flooring. Dalsouple is working towards certification with a Malaysian supplier.

Linoleum is made entirely from renewable materials. One of its primary ingredients is linseed oil, derived from flax, sourced primarily in Canada and transported by tanker. Rubber and cork must also be sourced from abroad. Rubber comes primarily from south-east Asia and cork from Portugal, Spain and North Africa. That they are transported by ship mitigates the embodied carbon question, so issues of sustainable forestry and manufacturing processes take priority. Another issue to explore when specifying is the use of non-toxic binders, sealants and adhesives.

As important as the embodied energy of a flooring product is its durability and its environmental impact in use. Edo Ram, of manufacturer Forbo, notes that 60-70 per cent of the environmental impact of linoleum flooring is in maintenance and aftercare, rather than in sourcing or production. Forbo has invested in independent, third-party lifecycle analysis to clarify these issues and has set year-on-year targets for improvement.


Manufacturer Amorim Revestimentos
Application Commercial, institutional and residential
Colour range 54
Composition 99.9 per cent cork granules, Acrodur binder, PVA glue
Dimensions 300 x 300mm, 300 x 600mm, 450 x 600mm
Life expectancy 15 years commercial, 25 years residential
Recycling All pre-production waste is recycled. Used tiles can be recycled into cork granules
Made in Portugal


The Wicanders range uses Acrodur, a water-based binder developed with BASF which contains no phenol, formaldehyde or isocyanate. Forest Stewardship Council certification of cork forests is at an early stage, with 20 per cent certification anticipated by 2011.


Manufacturer Dalsouple
Application Commercial/institutional/residential
Colour range 80; bespoke colours also available
Composition Rubber, mineral fillers, wax and pigments
Dimensions 340 x 340mm, 680 x 680mm and 680 x 1,760mm
Life expectancy Up to 25 years
Recycling 100 per cent of post-industrial waste recycled within factory. ‘Take back’ scheme for used tiles
Made in France


Dalnaturel uses only natural rubber sourced primarily from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia and transported by sea. According to Dalsouple, rubber flooring produces 17 times less CO2 emissions per square metre of flooring than linoleum during the manufacturing process.


Manufacturer Forbo Flooring Systems
Application Commercial/institutional/residential
Colour range 10 patterns and over 160 colours
Composition Linseed oil (min. 30 per cent), rosin, wood flour, limestone, pigments, jute backing
Dimensions Tiles 500 x 500mm and 333 x 333mm; rolls 2m x 30m
Life expectancy Up to 25 years
Recycling Marmoleum is naturally biodegradable
Made in Holland and Scotland


Forbo has 85 per cent of the linoleum market in the UK. All raw materials are natural and renewable. A water-based ‘Topshield’ finish protects against scuffing and is stain and chemical-resistant. The product has been reviewed by the third- party Life Cycle Assessment.


Manufacturer Nora Flooring Systems 
Application Commercial and institutional, excluding kitchens
Colour range 120-plus
Composition 45 per cent rubber (of which up to 60 per cent is natural), 40 per cent minerals and 15 per cent pigments
Dimensions 610 x 610mm tiles and 1.22 x 12-15m rolls
Life expectancy 5-year warranty
Recycling Production waste recycled into ‘eco’ tile range
Made in Germany


Noraplan’s vulcanisation process results in a dense, closed surface, highly resistant to abrasion. No further coating is required. Very low VOC levels. Range also includes a PVC-free safety flooring.


Manufacturer Tarkett
Application Commercial, residential and light industrial
Colour range 60-plus
Composition 90 per cent renewable raw materials: linseed oil, pine resin, wood flour and jute
Dimensions 2m x 20-30m rolls
Life expectancy 5-year warranty
Recycling 10 per cent of pre-consumer linoleum recycled into the product. Other waste can be incinerated, producing thermal and electrical energy
Made in Italy


Tarkett XF has a urethane polymer-based surface treatment with a particle reinforcement top finish, which reduces maintenance. The product is distributed through the Wolseley Sustainable Building Center.


Manufacturer Upofloor
Application Commercial
Colour range 85 different patterns/colours
Composition Enomer 80 per cent natural minerals and 20 per cent PVC-free thermoplastic polymers
Dimensions Sheet 145cm wide, tile 50 x 50cm, plank 10.16 x 91.44cm (4 x 36in)
Life expectancy 30 years
Recycling Product has 25 per cent recycled content, can be used as energy waste after lifespan
Made in Finland


A synthetic, PVC-free resilient floor covering with very low VOC emissions. Lifeline is heat weldable, can be coved and can also be used in watertight areas. Excellent resistance to chemicals and  bacterial growth.

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