Wood floors are among the most sustainable flooring options for a multitude of reasons. For starters, they can last much longer compared to other flooring materials such as carpet and laminate.

This is because most wood floors can be refinished, which means extra trees don’t need to be cut in order to make your floors look brand new even decades after you’ve installed them.

Furthermore, wood flooring can be reclaimed and reused. Old wood floors from buildings being renovated or demolished can be salvaged and repurposed, giving the material a second life.

In comparison to synthetic flooring options, wood floors generally have a lower environmental impact over their entire lifecycle, from production to disposal.

What is Sustainable Wood Flooring?

Before we go ahead and list the most sustainable options on the market, we have to explain the meaning of the phrase “sustainable flooring”, since it’s such a broad term.

We can answer this by using the definition laid out by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which basically says that sustainable wood flooring comes from forests that are managed, monitored, and protected to make sure that the trees can be regrown for generations to come. 

Deforestation is a huge problem around the world since only about 18% of forests are protected, according to the FAO’s 2020 report. 

By purchasing sustainable wood flooring, you’re helping to support renewable practices. 

Shop By Brand

Take a look at the floor selections offered by our most trusted brands and find the one that excels at meeting your needs.

Wood Certifications

Now that we know what the term sustainability means, here’s how to make sure you’re purchasing wood flooring that’s sourced in such a way.

Luckily, you don’t have to do a lot of work since there are organizations and scientists that do the hard work for us – we just need to find their stamps of approval. Here are some of the main ones to look for:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

The Forest Stewardship Council is an international non-profit that makes sure logging and forest management is done in a way that’s responsible. 

In order to become an FSC-certified hardwood flooring source, wood suppliers must meet 10 principles and 57 different criteria – including wildlife protection and support of unionized workers.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI-Certified Wood Flooring)

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative is a non-profit working hard to protect our natural resources. While SFI certification is a little less rigorous than FSC certification, it’s still a good indicator of responsible forestry practices to look for.

SFI certification ensures that your wood flooring isn’t coming from old-growth forests, for example. 

American Tree Farm System (ATFS-Certified Wood Flooring)

You may also spot ATFS certifications while you’re looking at different wood flooring materials. 

The American Tree Farm System is another non-profit that works to certify sustainable forests. If you find flooring sourced from an ATFS-certified forest, you can rest assured that it’s sustainably sourced.

Sustainable Wood 

Let’s talk about some of the most sustainable types of wood flooring you can choose from. 

Just remember: this list is going to be a mix of wood types, wood species, and wood-like materials! 

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is perhaps the pinnacle of sustainability since it’s 100% recycled. It refers to wood that was previously used in construction. When old structures are torn down, any of the structurally sound materials can be repurposed. 

Because this wood has naturally aged, it offers character that brand new hardwood can’t. In fact, some of the best-known hardwood floor brands sell reclaimed wood for this very purpose – it has a personality and history all its own! 

Salvaged Wood

Many people think salvaged wood is the same as reclaimed wood, but they’re actually quite different. Salvaged wood has never been used before in construction. 

It actually comes from trees that have fallen naturally or have been removed due to disease or safety reasons. 

The downside of salvaged wood is that it can be quite difficult to find, and you might not be able to find large quantities of it.

Palm Wood

Derived from coconut palms that no longer produce fruit, palm wood is a renewable resource that’s gaining popularity. 

It’s incredibly durable and offers a unique, exotic appearance. Utilizing palm wood helps reduce waste in coconut farming regions, providing an eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwoods.


Cork flooring is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, which naturally regenerates, making it a highly sustainable choice in the flooring world. 

The trees are not harmed during the harvesting process, and cork flooring offers excellent sound insulation and a soft, cushioned feel underfoot. 

It’s also naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and termites.


Technically a grass, bamboo grows much faster than traditional hardwoods, often reaching maturity in just five years. 

It’s incredibly strong and durable, with a striking appearance. Bamboo’s rapid growth rate and renewable nature make it an excellent sustainable flooring option.


Oak is a popular North American species that grows in plenty of FSC-certified forests. Thanks to its abundance, oak is a highly sustainable flooring option. 

This, among other reasons, makes it one of the most popular types of wood flooring in the USA.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring is composed of a plywood core with a veneer of solid wood on top, making it virtually indistinguishable from solid wood. 

Softwood trees almost always grow faster than hardwood trees, and since plywood, a core layer of this flooring type, is usually made of softwood, it allows for a more sustainable and rapid replenishment of resources.

That being said, there are some disadvantages to this type of flooring. For instance, engineered wood can typically be refinished only once or twice due to the thinness of the top veneer, limiting its lifespan compared to solid wood.

About The Author

Steph Gregerson

June 8, 2024

Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can't get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times.