Laminate flooring is composed of a hybrid of materials fused together through a unique lamination process. Thanks to the layer of high-definition photography used to give laminate flooring its beauty, laminate creates the realistic look of a natural resource – such as wood, marble or stone – without actually using it, so fewer raw materials are used in the manufacturing process.
"The manufacture of laminate flooring doesn't involve the harvesting of old-growth hardwoods like those found in tropical rainforests," says Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA). "Laminate provides the desired look, no matter how scarce, without depleting natural resources."
Moreover, textures that replicate saw marks, worm holes and other decorative details give laminate flooring a remarkably realistic look, but not at the expense of Mother Nature. For example, laminate's fiberboard core is typically comprised of at least 74 percent pre-consumer recycled waste, such as sawdust from mills and wood chips from log processing.
NALFA conducts independent, third-party performance tests on laminate flooring, and products that earn the NALFA Certification Seal are deemed sustainable.
"Laminate flooring has a wealth of green advantages, and products certified to NALFA's sustainability standard are being used in growing numbers because of them," Dearing says. "Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of environmentally friendly products."
Dearing says the NALFA Certification Seal is confirmation that a laminate floor is manufactured with these earth-friendly qualities:
• It's made with recycled natural resources producing a heavy-duty, high-density core board.Finally, at the end of a laminate floor's lifetime, it can be reused or recycled. Or, when dismantled, the boards can be put back into the production process, ground for agriculture use, or burned as waste-to-energy. That keeps old flooring from landing in the landfill.
• It's recyclable.
• It's free of air-damaging chemicals. Because laminate is installed without glues and adhesives, and because laminate floors can be cleaned without the use of harsh chemicals, laminate helps to prevent harmful emissions of volatile organic compounds.
• It complies with formaldehyde emissions regulations for laminate flooring core board set forth by the California Air Resources Board.
• It is comprised of recycled content that may contribute points to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for homes and businesses.