Are there green tile options?

Get eco-friendly tile alternatives for your home.
Green, or eco-friendly, products are hot, and companies in many industries are slapping these and other terms such as "environmentally-friendly, "sustainable," and "renewable" onto their products in hopes of attracting the growing number of consumers on a quest for green living. To ensure that the product really is green, do a little research on the company and product you're purchasing to make sure that the claims are justified.Many types of tile are naturally green, including ceramic, porcelain, and glass tiles. Their durability means they won't have to be replaced often, and the tile manufacturing process is environmentally friendly (compared to other types of flooring). Finally, tile is easy to clean and care for and doesn't require special chemicals that can affect air quality.

What tile qualifies as a "green?"

According to the United States Green Building Council's (www.usgbc.org), LEED ® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification standards, a tile is considered "green" if it meets at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Made from recycled materials
    One option is to use recycled content tile, which incorporates a large percentage of recycled material into the manufacturing process. This material can include everything from old windshields to mining waste. Another option is to use reclaimed (previously used) tiles.

  2. Made within 500 miles of the job site
    Buying locally eliminates the need for long distance shipping and reduces the amount of fuel used for transportation. Not only are you saving the environment, but you're saving money!

  3. Manufactured with an eco-friendly production process
    These manufacturing processes include technologies to increase energy efficiency, conserve water, and eliminate waste in production methods. Manufacturers may also participate in carbon offset programs.
Is there anything I can do to minimize environmental damage during the tile installation?
  • Choose a low toxic sealer to seal grout. In high-moisture areas such as a bathroom, grout can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. A sealer will ward off these unsavory characters.

  • Recycle construction waste. If you're removing old flooring to install tile, make sure to recycle everything that you can. It is estimated that up to 85% of all construction waste sent to landfills could have been recycled.
Does "green" tile cost more?

It depends. While recycled glass tile tends to be expensive, ceramic tile made from recycled materials can be found at prices comparable to their less environmentally-friendly cousins. As with any product, as the demand for green tiles increases and manufacturers expand their products, the costs will decrease.

Where can I find help?

Your local flooring retailer has knowledge of all the major tile manufacturers and can help you find tile that is both eco-friendly and beautiful. You can find great flooring and tile stores in your area on Kudzu.com.

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