The number of hardwood flooring suppliers out there is almost overwhelming. You can go to a big box store or a carpet store and find a large selection of wood flooring — and for the most part, because the flooring looks fairly similar (if you’re going for new), you’re probably going to buy your flooring material from whoever gives you the best price. But what about the behind the scenes actions in the hardwood industry? We see beautiful flooring samples in the store, but do we know where it was logged and whether it comes from environmentally sensitive areas? Whether it’s milled here or overseas? Sometimes logs cut in Canada are shipped to China, milled there and shipped back here to sell. Do you know what kind of glues are used for prefinished or engineered floors? How much off-gassing is taking place? Whether or not labour and environmental practices are considered? Most likely not, and also most likely the salesman doesn’t either. But what if you could choose where your wood came from and how it was harvested, and know that you were providing jobs in mills in Ontario, Quebec and New England, all the while supporting responsibly managed, working forests — and getting beautiful flooring all at the same time? How good does that floor look now — pretty amazing, right? Knowledge is a powerful thing — and let’s face it, from the grocery store to the mall, we consumers don’t have a heck of a lot of information on how our stuff is made. Something that needs to be changed, and soon.
Ian Jackson of Nadurra Wood Corporation is a bright light in the fuzzy world of hardwood flooring. I spent a morning with him talking about responsible hardwood flooring and what that really means. Nadurra sells a variety of wood flooring from reclaimed hardwood to bamboo, FSC or not, low or zero VOC. And, believe me, Ian knows his wood. In fact, he selects the suppliers based on the mills and forestry practices and he is the only hardwood flooring retailer in Ontario to have the Forestry Stewardship Council’s Chain of Custody Certification. Ian admitted that when he was a young and enthusiastic university student studying Environmental Studies he was a certified treehugger. Yes, one of the ones who chained themselves to beautiful old growth forests so loggers wouldn’t cut them down. Twenty or so years later, Ian now sees the value of a well-managed working forest. He selects his hardwood from mills that practice selective cutting, retrain local populations in logging and milling practices and where possible, forests that have set aside a percentage of land protected from logging altogether. Because he travels to see these mills, he can make better judgement about whom to buy from and who not to.
Take his experience with bamboo flooring. One of the first mills he visited had had many accolades about its responsible bamboo management, but when he arrived in China and visited the mill, he saw that while its was an FSC certified business, the boxes were stamped with the FSC logo, but the bamboo itself was not! He’s not using them as a supplier.
Bamboo: Nadurra’s FSC-certified bamboo flooring comes from a 50 year old plantation. The bamboo is harvested and milled in China and shipped to Canada. According to Ian, bamboo is best harvested when it is between 4 and 6 years old; any earlier and it will not be strong enough, any later and it will be too brittle for processing.
One of the criticisms of bamboo flooring is that it wears much faster than hardwood, and therefore has to be replaced more often. Nadurra has just introduced a new line of bamboo flooring called Composite Traffic. Hardwood durability is measured on the Janka Scale, with Maple measuring 700 and 1450 depending on the variety. This new composite bamboo measures 2600-3000 on the Janka scale. Made from bamboo pulp, it is compressed into a solid product (versus “engineered”), and is available in 4 colours: natural, carbonised (darkened through processing, no stain added), Riverbed Composite and Sand Dune Composite. The two latter colours are a mixture of the carbonized and natural colours. These new bamboo floorings are currently not FSC certified, but will be shortly. It can also be available in low or no VOC and formaldehyde-free and comes with a 30 year warranty.
The protective finish applied to this line of flooring is from Bona, a Swedish company that offers some of the most eco-friendly finishes on the market today.
Pricing: for FSC-certified bamboo, pricing ranges between $3.50-4.99/square foot.
Ian admits, however, that probably the “greenest” choices a person can make in terms of buying new flooring would be to choose one of his three Nadurra lines of hardwood flooring. They are classified into three categories of green: “Bronze,” “Silver” and “Gold.” The designations are based on the practices and transportation involved in getting the hardwood flooring from forest to Toronto.
Lower Canada Collection (Bronze): FSC hardwood varieties from Quebec, including Maple, Oak, Ash and Birch. Available in engineered (with Baltic birch backing), or solid wood, finished or unfinished. Price range: $4-8/square foot. This wood is logged in FSC certified forests in Quebec.
New England Collection (Silver): FSC hardwood selectively logged in New England forests. Forests are actually “gold” rated by Nadurra’s system for logging and milling practices. However, the wood is shipped to Quebec for finishing. Increased transportation therefore means that it qualifies for a “silver” level of “greeness.” Wood is available in engineered or solid, or “click.” Note: “Click” flooring is on HDF (High Density Fiberboard) backing. Click Flooring tends not to be as durable as either solid or engineered because of the HDF backing. Wood selection: Hickory, Black Cherry, Black Walnut (unfinished only), Birch, Maple and Oak all available finished or unfinished. Prices: Solid, unfinished: $5.50-8/square foot. Solid prefinished, $5.50-8/square foot.
Upper Canada Collection (Gold): FSC hardwood from central Ontario forest where 11% of forest is set aside for conservation. Forest itself is selectively logged and wood is milled on site. Mill retrains local native population in logging and milling jobs. Available in solid only, Maple, Oak, Ash and Birch. Price: $5-7.50/square foot.
Reclaimed Wood: Nadurra has a wide selection of reclaimed wood from local Ontario barns and factories. While reclaimed wood offers the “greenest” choice of wood floors, not to mention wide plank sizes because the wood was originally from first growth forests, it is more expensive, and obviously, one day this wood will also be used up. Varieties of wood are Elm, Hemlock, Noble Oak, Pine, Loyalist Maple and Birch. Available in solid or engineered. Price: $6.50-11/square foot.
Ian also carries Logs End flooring, milled from logs that have been submerged in the Ottawa River for awhile (50+ years), and Eco Timber, an eco-forestry company based in Colorado that practices responsible forestry and milling.
Please note the new address for Nadurra Flooring (updated as of August 14, 2013).
157 Bentworth Avenue, Unit A
Tel: (647) 345-8414
Toll Free: 1-888-NADURRA (623-8772)