Mike's Blog


Why is it so expensive to be Green?!?

I'm just about to start a new project- which I hope to chronicle on here. It's a beautiful 19th Century brick Italiante. It's a total gut job unfortunately. I'll be able to salvage most of the original mouldings but thats about it. The original heart pine floors were removed sometime ago. So here comes the issue...

I know Im going to have to replace the flooring so I've been researching sustainable and low VOC flooring. Of course Bamboo is an option...as is DuraPalm...reclaimed hardwoods...etc. But my god those options are 2-3X the cost of traditional pre-finished hardwoods.  Just today I visited a local eco supply center- they have some amazing offerings for flooring, countertops, paints, etc.  I was there to look at the DuraPalm flooring samples. The stuff is beautiful- but expensive...like $6-10 a sq ft. They had some great bamboo that doesnt look cheap(like the crap thats so popular), but even the less expensive stuff is $6 a sq ft.  For a 1500 Sq ft home thats $9k for flooring. That will blow a rehab budget fast!

So I decided tonight to check out Lumber Liquidators for their bamboo. I found some stuff by Morning Star  that I like- check it out. Its beautiful stuff and only $2.99 a sq ft. Man I was stoked to see that- so I did some research on. Do a Google Search for "morning star bamboo flooring review" and the very first review is this. Come to find out- while it may be sustainable- it's hardly healthy. The stuff is made with formaldehyde...exactly the kind of off-gassing stuff we avoid. Boom- there goes the cheap option.

So my question for everyone- what kind of floors are you guys seeing thats

A. Attractive 

B. Sustainable or reclaimed 

C. Low or No VOC 


D. Inexpensive.




Mike Hogan

Associate Broker

RE/MAX Commonwealth





Comment balloon 6 commentsMike Hogan • September 05 2008 09:36PM


Mike, I just got my EcoBroker Designation and our area is just starting to talk about such products.  I have seen concrete and bamboo but I'm sure they are pricey.  We have a NCHome Builder's Expo this week.  If I learn of anything wonderful I will let you know.

Posted by Diane Aurit, Lake Norman Real Estate (LKN Realty, LLC) over 10 years ago


US produced Red Oak or White Oak solid flooring is quite sustainable.  It is realtively cheap right now because of the building slump.

Another alternative is to put in another pine floor.  Of course reclaimed heart pine will not meet your "cheap" requirement, but there is planty of other pine flooring available from current production.  Check for Southern Yellow Pine (new Heart Pine) and Caribbean Heart Pine (produced in Honduras).  Both are sustainable.

You will find most imported flooring to be priced relatively high right now because of the weak US dollar.

I'm not high on Bamboo.  It takes lots of glue to hold all those small pieces together and the land it is grown on was previously forested.  If the demand for Bamboo rises, more forested areas will have to be cut to make land available for growing Bamboo.

Good luck.

Posted by Joe over 10 years ago

Ok so here's what Im coming up with- in order to achieve my four attributes:

A. Attractive 

B. Sustainable or reclaimed 

C. Low or No VOC 


D. Inexpensive.

I've decided to go with an unfinished heart pine floor...the pine is sustainably grown in FSC certified forests. Using heart pine will also help me maintaing the antique character of the home. There are several choices for ultra-low or no VOC finishes. I havent chosen a particular one yet- but IM estimating the materials to cost around $3 Sq/Ft.  And of course hand finished heart pine floors will achieve the attractive attribute.

I'll add some pics to this once I get started.

Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago

This is a different approach and out there, but here is an idea, if you have any Amish communities nearby, they often work with wood. In our area, there are a few that manufacture new oak flooring at very affordable prices. You might check out local communities if you have any in your state. They do have a national newspaper and now an online site too, High tech Amish, LOL, were you could run an ad. www.thebudgetnewspaper.com Good Luck

Posted by Mary Strang over 10 years ago

These are great comments and good info.  To add to Joe's comment about the negative aspects of bamboo, another not so great thing about it is that it has to be shipped great distances to get here, and many "greenies" would prefer not to engage the burning of more fossil fuel to import things from far off. 

See the "100 Mile Diet" for another aspect of "localism!"

Posted by Suzanne Champion (N.J. Realty - Westerville Ohio) over 10 years ago


Your point is right on!!  We are doing everything we can to keep shipping distances low- our countertops will be fabricated by a local craftsman who makes a product very similar to Vetrazzo. Thats one example but we're constantly looking for other opportunities. The hear pine floors we're going to install are milled in the southeast in FSC certified forests..so the shipping to Richmond, VA is minimal compared to using exotic hardwoods.


Posted by Mike Hogan, MBA (The Hogan Group at Keller Williams Realty) over 10 years ago