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For new construction, which flooring is greener, an engineered hardwood or a laminate.

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google.com/#q=green+wood+flooring –  mike Nov 4 '13 at 22:54
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Why not just go for real solid hardwood? It will outlast any imitators and can be easily refinished and repaired. Compare that to laminate which can't be refinished at all, and to engineered wood which has very limited potential for repair –  Vitaliy Nov 5 '13 at 15:14
    
Greener is a relative concept. My definitions of what is environmentally sound may not match yours, and my tolerances for "green violations" may be different from yours. Also, this question does not post a specific home improvement question. –  alt Nov 5 '13 at 15:40
    
Plastic flooring has it's place (like in basements) but it makes me want to burn things and club baby seals which I guess makes engineered flooring the greener choice. @Vitality, engineered flooring (and prefinished wood flooring) have a harder finish than can be applied on site. Wood flooring can only be sanded and refinished about as much as engineered flooring because at some point you'll start hitting the tongue and nails if you sand it too many times. –  OrganicLawnDIY Dec 22 '13 at 3:06
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2 Answers

Engineered Hardwood

Core: Hardwood, Plywood, or High Density Fiberboard (HDF)
Top Layer: Hardwood veneer

Pros:

  • Made from real wood, so it's biodegradable.
  • Limited manufacturing.

Cons:

  • Made from real wood, so trees must be cut down (and usually the really good trees that take a long time to regrow, because they tend to be more attractive on the inside so people like the look better).

Laminate

Core: High Density Fiberboard (HDF)
Top Layer: Photographic applique with clear protective coating.

Pros:

  • Made mostly of manufactured products, so less trees have to be cut down.

Cons:

  • Made mostly of manufactured products, so requires more manufacturing (which could lead to more pollution).
  • Made mostly of manufactured products, so may not be as safe to discard.

Laminate flooring is considered to be more "green", since it doesn't require loads of trees to be cut down. However, it also requires more manufacturing, and may include chemicals that could impede biodegradation. Without knowing the "greenness" of the manufacturing facilities, it's impossible to determine a clear winner. Unless you're only concerned with trees being cut down, in which case laminate wins.

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The fact that trees are cut down can be a "pro"–since it means carbon is being locked up in a product. If the felled trees are replaced (quickly) then it can be a carbon negative product. So perhaps fast-growing woods like bamboo make the greenest floors. There is also the option of reclaimed wood (e.g. from a store like Habitat Restore). –  littleturtle Nov 5 '13 at 14:51
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Being in the flooring business I have been to manufacturing facilities for both hardwood and laminate flooring on multiple continents.

My number one tip for buying green - buy domestic! Anything that comes on a boat from China can't be considered green as it takes so much fuel just to bring it across the world.

Laminate's number one raw input is wood. When in Germany at a facility they told us they bring in 200 truckloads of logs a day! Whether you buy laminate or engineered they both use a lot of wood but if you buy north American at least the wood is harvested responsibly which will leave no negative impact on the environment. Look for a product that is FSC certified. Hope this helps (Mirage, Mercier and Shaw are great brands)

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