What's a Better Investment? Green Flooring or Counters?

What's a Better Investment? Green Flooring or Counters?

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Cambria Bold
Jun 8, 2011

Q: On a limited budget, am I better off spending money on truly green flooring or high-end green countertops? I have been considering granite countertops, which are actually more economical than other green options. (I realize all the environmental implications of granite.) But I also want to change out the flooring in the rest of the home when I remodel the kitchen...

... Because this means 1,500 sq ft of new flooring, the green options range around $6-7 a square foot. I am just curious from an environmental and health standpoint which would be more important to invest extra money. I can't really afford to do both.

Asked by Vanessa

Editor: Vanessa, here's what our friends at Green Home Guide say:

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP

I would recommend that you invest in green flooring rather than green countertops. Here are some reasons why:
  • If you have children or pets at home, they are likely to spend time "lounging" on the floor -- provide them, and yourself, with the most healthful environment that you can.
  • The quantity of floor you require vs. the quantity of countertop you are likely to require is significantly different and, as such, the visual impact of these materials are not equal. You want to make sure you are really happy with the flooring. Replacing an unsatisfactory floor can cause you more anguish than replacing a countertop (not that I am advocating you choose an unsatisfactory countertop with the idea that you can just replace it a few years down the road, because I am not -- that goes against the basic tenants of being sustainable).
  • Given your budget constraints, you will likely have more product options with your countertops. For instance, consider taking a "wabe sabe" approach to your counters -- use more than one countertop material. For example, use the expensive granite on an island or raised bar and use a more economical countertop material on the perimeter such as solid surface, butcher block (realizing this is not the best countertop material around sinks) or laminate. (Wilsonart is GreenGuard certified and has some great colors/patterns. Formica laminate is another option, also GreenGuard certified.)
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