Posts Tagged ‘Flooring’

Nexterra LivingHome Revisited

April 17th, 2012

Nexterra LivingHome — Kitchen

Two years ago I attended the press party for Nexterra LivingHomes. I was pretty excited about the concept of a green modular home that achieved the goals of being lighter on the planet, but was still functional and gorgeous. The house is now ready and, since I was in Toronto to attend the GreenLiving Show,  Gary Lands of Nexterra, took me on a tour of the nearly completed and furnished model home. There are three other homes that will be built at 20 Senlac, blue prints and property positions are available on the Nexterra website.

Exterior Rainscreen cladding be Externit


Side view of house — double garage under scaffolding

The Nexterra LivingHome consists of 6 prefab boxes: four large boxes and two smaller ones.  The finished home is a spacious three plus one bedroom, meaning three bedrooms on the second floor with a fourth in the basement. Ceilings are 10′ tall on each level so there is a real feeling of space — even the basement ceilings are 10′. The home has wonderful flow, with windows used both strategically and liberally so that there is plenty of natural light.

Laura Felstiner, involved with establishing Nexterra’s partners, told me they are targeting LEED Platinum certification, but won’t know until the house is completed and systems are operating, in order to monitor energy consumption.

Some of the features of the home:


Geosmart furnace

Waterfurnace HRV

Third floor tower leading to roof deck (also works as a heat stack)

Building envelope and HVAC system: The building is tightly sealed, with R35 insulation in the exposed walls, and R30 insulation in the basement walls.Insulation is Heatlok Soya, a sprayfoam insulation made from recycled water bottles and soy. It’s an excellent insulation with an R-value of 6 per inch. The key to Heatlok is that it doesn’t lose its R-value over time. Many sprayfoams lose a little of their insulation value due to natural shrinkage of the material.

There is easy accessibility to the roof via the third floor stairway, which also acts as a heat stack. When days are hot in the summer and (hopefully) nights are cooler, opening the door to the roof, while opening lower floor windows prompts cool air to be drawn into the lower floors while the hot air escapes through the open top floor door. There is also space for a whole house fan in the roof which would accomplish the same thing if the lower level windows are open. The roof is also solar PV panel ready, and there will be a roof deck as well.

Geothermal heating system by Geosmart provides both heating and cooling for the home. In addition, because the building is tightly sealed, there is a Heat Recovery Ventilator and air purification system by Water Furnace, that keeps the air clean and circulating through the house.

Windows have fiberglass frames, made by local Toronto business, Inline Fiberglass, and are double-glazed, low-emissivity, filled with argon gas. These windows are some of the best insulating windows on the market today. You can read more about the advantages of fiberglass windows in this article.

Appliance Bank: AEG microwave, oven and steamer oven

Franke Sink with culinary work prep sink and built-in compost bin

Recycling bins built into kitchen cabinets — by Scavolini

Kitchen: The cabinets were done by Scavolini, an Italian company that takes sustainability very seriously. Not only are the cabinets NAUF (no added urea formaldehyde), but there are thoughtful additions such as a recycling centre built into the island. The company itself also practices sustainability during the manufacturing process. The two manufacturing plants run almost entirely on electricity derived from the rooftop solar panels on their factories, waste is minimized as is the amount of water used in manufacturing. While the cupboards are manufactured in Europe, they are shipped by boat and flat-packed, and are assembled on site. Flat packing items allows companies the opportunity to ship more items in one container, lessening the number of cargo holders needed.

Countertop by Caesarstone, Faucet by Franke

Countertop: Caesarstone “Quartz Reflections” with up to 42% reclaimed quartz and with particles of recycled mirror and glass which adds a very nice sparkle.

Euro-Line Appliances provided all the appliances and the stainless steel sink. The sink is by Franke and includes a prep bowl and strainer, as well as a built-in compost bin. Appliances are by AEG and include an induction cooktop, and a wall of ovens consisting of a microwave, convection oven and steamer oven. The dishwasher is also AEG. European appliances use significantly less electricity than standard North American models and will lighten the electricity load for the house, Faucet is by Franke.


Barnboard in mudroom

Mudroom: Between the garage and the kitchen is a mudroom to which barnboard has been added for a great rustic touch. Barnboard comes from Muskoka Timber Mills, and was installed by Andrew Reesor, a local artist.

Dual flush Aquia II by Toto

Powder room: Just off the mudroom is a smart little powder room containing a dual flush (3/6 litres) toilet by Toto Aquia II, and a vanity and sink by WETSTYLE, featuring a proprietary WETMAR material for the sink basin.  It is completely recyclable at end of life and can be made into new WETSTYLE products.

Inlaid cork flooring by Jelinek at entry way.

Other features of the main floor: The welcome mat at the front door is actually an inlaid cork flooring provided by Jelinek. Wood flooring through the rest of the house is Kentwood, FSC engineered oak. Engineered flooring is often used because it behaves more consistently than solid wood, not being susceptible to expansion and contraction.


Halo LED lighting in basement

LED pot lights throughout the house are 4″ Halo, 5Watt lights. When Gary was showing me around the house he asked me what was my favourite feature. I told him the LED potlights (he might have been a little disappointed with my answer). I thought they were 50W halogens because of their light temperature (colour) and brightness. I had no idea they were LEDs. Not only will these lights use 10 times less electricity than their halogen counterparts, they will likely not need to be replaced for 15 to 20 years. Now that’s great lighting.

The pendant lighting in the kitchen and over the dining room table is provided by Eurolite.

Living Room — furniture by Gus* modern, art by AGO

Furniture in living room is provided by Gus* Modern. Pillows are provided by Bev Hisey and are Goodweave certified. Goodweave is a not-for-profit group with the aim of ending child labour in the carpet industry while providing education opportunities for children in South Asia. Second life rugs were provided by Elte.


Cast-iron fireplace by Jotul

The fireplace is provided by Jotul, model F 370 DV. Jotul manufactures this fireplace from recycled iron in one of the cleanest foundries in Europe.


Home office








The desk in the home office was constructed by JM & Sons out of recycled metal and reclaimed wood. Gary explained that the home’s interior is set up so that if someone has a home office, any clients they might receive can stay in the main part of the house. This eastern-facing wall has large windows so that lots of natural daylight can stream in.

All art throughout the house is provided by the Art Gallery of Ontario’s  Rental and Sales department.


Master bathroom, bath tub, sinks and vanities by Wetstyle

The second floor consists of a Master-ensuite with floor to ceiling closets on the end walls providing lots of storage space. The washroom has been outfitted with Wetstyle tub and sinks and vanity. Other storage cupboards also come from Wetstyle.

Faucets and showerheads throughout the house are low-flow from Aquabrass. I should also mention that while all toilets and faucets are low-flow, they’ve also built the house to be grey-water ready. Grey water, water that comes from the shower drains, can be used to feed all toilets in the house, literally helping to reduce your water use in half.


Bunkbed in bedroom #2 by Kolan


Bedroom #3, crib by Oeuf

The two other rooms on the second floor are set up as kids’ rooms, one with a crib, the other a set of bunk beds. These rooms are bright and spacious and putting furniture in the rooms shows that they are big too — there is plenty of play area in both rooms. The kids’ bunk beds  and bookshelf are made by Oeuf out of Baltic birch and eco-MDF and low VOC water-based finishes. The table in this room was made by Heidi Earnshaw, a local artist.

The crib and dresser are made by Kalon from FSC domestic maple and low VOC food grade dyes and stains.

The paint throughout the house is white, zero VOC provided by PARA paints.

What you notice when you walk through this house is not only is it a great example of a green-designed beautiful contemporary house, but also there is an absense of “new home smell” — ie., no smell of chemicals off-gassing into the air. Neither the products that were used to construct the house nor the furniture installed for modelling the home contain toxic chemicals providing a comfortable healthy indoor air environment.

If you’re at all interested in modern, low impact homes, take a look at this one. It will be available for sale at some point, right now it serves as the model home for three others to be built down the same laneway.

For more information on the home, visit the Nexterra website.

For more pictures of the home, visit BEC Green’s Facebook page.


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Polytrazzo — 80% recycled material, 12% rapidly renewable material

January 12th, 2011

I came across this counter top/flooring product last month that looks interesting. Its product, Polytrazzo is similar to the other recycled-glass products like Vertrazzo and IceStone, but it’s made in Canada. At the moment it’s made in Vancouver, but following an email exchange with Dan Stubbs, the Director of Sales and Marketing for Polytrazzo, their ultimate goal is to be able to manufacture this product in various locations across Canada.

Polytrazzo’s originated from eurocrete(.com), a similar product designed for industrial flooring in the food manufacturing business, so you know, that if it’s good enough for an industrial food manufacturing facility, it has to be a pretty resilient material.  It was a simple switch to to recycled material when developing this new product that made it perfect for the commercial/residential market.

Polytrazzo is a product that consists of 80% recycled glass, 12% “not feedstock competing, non petroleum-based” vegetable oil and 8% white cement. Regarding the 8% cement in the product, Dan says: And yes, we know that white cement is frowned upon in the ‘green’ world; but we feel a product that is 92% environmentally friendly is step in the right direction. We have done a significant amount of testing and 8% is what is optimal right now.” The finished product is twice as hard as concrete and has a long lifespan. In fact it will outlast the concrete it sits on.

It is available in a variety of colours and thicknesses depending on if it’s going to be used as paneling, flooring or counter tops. It is scratch and chip resistant, non-porous, food grade, chemical resistant, waterproof membrane, zero VOC and it doesn’t need sealing. It’s one of the lowest maintenance products I’ve come across.

Polytrazzo is available in a variety of natural resin colours including: blue, red, yellow, green (several shades) and grey (several shades), mixed with two different aggregates.

The product is available two ways: it is either pre-cast in the factory to order and sent to its final destination for installation by a traditional tile installer, or it is ready to be cast in situ, meaning that it is poured on site and left to cure and can be done by a professional terrazzo installer.

The cost: Locally in Vancouver, the product cost ranges from $7-8.50/square foot, in Toronto and outside of Vancouver, it’s about $8-9.50/square foot. Installation will cost $2-5/square foot, depending on the type of installation being done. The company has recommended installers they work with in the Toronto area.

The company’s goal is to set up more centres across Canada in order to manufacture the product in the area in which it’s used. At the moment, however, it’s manufactured in Vancouver and shipped across North America.

For more information contact Polytrazzo directly:


Marmoleum: One of the Original Eco Friendly Flooring Materials

February 23rd, 2010

Marmoleum Click Flooring

When you think of  “green” flooring you will most likely think of wood and cork, and for carpeting, wool and natural grasses. Linoleum, however, which has been around since the end of the 19th century is another one of the original “green” flooring materials. Over the years, the term “linoleum” has been used for almost any flexible tile flooring — and slowly, the majority of linoleum tile has been replaced by PVC-based (polyvinylchloride) flooring because it is so much more cost effective to produce.

Environmental benefits of Marmoleum:

Marmoleum is an excellent flooring choice if you’re concerned about your environmental footprint. The company itself is constantly looking for ways to decrease its energy consumption. For instance, in 2003, they stopped drying the linoleum in light-intensive drying rooms, and instead built greenhouses and use sun power to dry the tiles. The investment in the greenhouses has saved the company a considerable amount of money.

Linoleum itself is made almost entirely from renewable resources and consists of a combination of pine rosin, linseed oil, wood and cork flours, and limestone powder. Jute is used for the backing. Colour dyes are derived from natural pigments.

The company has produced several brochures on the enviromental benefits of choosing Marmoleum, and has been endorsed by many environmental organizations around the world.

Flooring benefits of Marmoleum:

In addition to the environmental benefits of Marmoleum, there are several material benefits that make it an excellent flooring choice for homes. Marmoleum is:

  • resilient (great for kitchens and other places where people are standing most of the time)
  • easy to clean and low maintenance
  • durable and can stand up to high traffic areas (needs replacing less often)
  • anti-static (good in areas where there are a lot of electronic items such as TV rooms and offices)
  • hypo-allergenic (Marmoleum Click is endorsed by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)
  • low VOC therefore no off-gassing of harmful chemicals
  • available in a variety of colours and sheet or tile options providing great design options.

Marmoleum Click can be installed without glues in various tile options.
You can buy Marmoleum
through or through these Toronto retailers:

Allan Rug Company Limited
103 Miranda Ave
M6B 3W8 Toronto
phone: (416) 787-1707
Avenue Interiors
1900 Avenue Road North
M5M 3Z8 Toronto
phone: (416) 781-3005
Barton Limited
1276 Queen Street West
M6K 1L4 Toronto
phone: (416) 538-2164
Danmar Surfaces
20 Bermondsey Road
M4B 1Z5 Toronto
phone: (416) 678-2226
Décor Terminal
1554 Dundas Street
M6K 1T8 Toronto
phone: (416) 537-3467
Downtown Rug & Flooring Co LTD
474 Queen Street West
M5V 2B2 Toronto
phone: (416) 703-1050
Horseshoe Valley Flooring
4476 Chesswood Drive
Unit 3
M3J 2B9 Toronto
phone: (416) 636-2704
Interiors Only Inc.
2316 Bloor Street West
M6S 1P2 Toronto
phone: (416) 767-3666
M & M Carpet
1562 Queen Street West
M6R 1A6 Toronto
phone: (416) 536-7875
Merit Decorating
700 College St
M6G 1C1 Toronto
phone: (416) 534-6337
Millenia Flooring Design
1500 Lodestar Road
M3J 3C1 Toronto
phone: (416) 630-3323
Millenia IT Carpet Inc
4100 Chesswood Drive, Unit #103A
M3J 2B9 Toronto
phone: (416) 630-3323
Modern Linoleum & Supplies LTD
839 College Street
M6H 1A1 Toronto
phone: (416) 536-5748
P S Floorcoverings of Toronto
8 Hafis Road
M6M 2V7 Toronto
phone: (416) 248-8383
Peacock Carpet & Tile Limited
3367 Lakeshore BLVD West
M8W 1H1 Toronto
phone: (416) 251-6601
Petch Tiles Inc
3619 Dundas Street West
M6S 2T2 Toronto
phone: (416) 762-7357
Pollocks Carpet Market
349 Roncesvalles Ave
M6R 2M8 Toronto
phone: (416) 535-1160
Regal Decorating Centre
3079 Danforth Avenue
M1L 1A8 Toronto
phone: (416) 698-1141
Reliable Carpet & Paint
772 Dundas Street West
M6J 1V1 Toronto
phone: (416) 603-8952
Selyans Oriental Rugs
112 Oakdale Road
M3N 1V9 Toronto
phone: (416) 741-5990
Stradwicks Ltd (Toronto)
10 Banigan Drive
M4H 1E9 Toronto
phone: (416) 489-2164
Tony’s Flooring Centre
268 Royal York
M8V 2V9 Toronto
phone: (416) 255-9631

Different Types of Eco-Friendly Flooring

February 14th, 2010

Lily and Aaron at eFloor took time out of their incredibly busy schedule to show me around the eco-friendly flooring options they carry. While eFloor isn’t a “green” store per se, they do carry several options in green flooring in addition to their other flooring products. Lily also educated me on the difference between high and low quality carpets. The bottom line is, like almost anything, spending more means you’re going to get a carpet that lasts for years and years, and therefore needs replacing less often which in and of itself is a “green” choice.

What to look for when purchasing a carpet: Buying a cheap, 100% polyester carpet usually has a lifespan of 2 to 5 years. Heavily trafficked areas will shows signs of  flattening, pilling and stain retention very early. You’ll have to spend more money on carpet replacement, and most likely that carpet will end up in landfill (although we’ll talk about alternatives to landfill for carpets in another post). Any fiber with resilience, such as wool, will have a much longer lifespan than a 100% polyester carpet. Plus, the tighter and closer together the weave, the longer lasting the carpet will be. Finally, a woven carpet will wear much longer than a tufted carpet, but woven carpets are considerably more expensive. Note: you can tell if a carpet is woven by looking at the backside. A tufted carpet needs a backing and will usually be backed in synthetic or natural latex.

Below are a few of the eco-friendly flooring options eFloor offers:




  • Ecotimber: This company, based in Denver, CO, is one of the first companies to offer exclusively all its products from Forest Stewardship Council certified managed forests. The company researches every forest that supplies its products from the Brazilian Cherry to Hickory and Bamboo. All wood is sourced from sustainably managed plantations. Approx. Cost: Hardwood: $9.39-14.32/square foot, Reclaimed Hardwood: $11.65/sq. ft., Bamboo: $5.19-9.39/sq. ft. (all prices are for product only. Exclude installation, prep work and sub-floor).

Bamboo, Cork, Linoleum and Sisal:

US Floors Ecofloors Collection:

Natural Floor Bamboo

  • Natural Bamboo: Bamboo flooring harvested from plantations after 6 years of growth. A thicker stalk means it will be more durable. Flooring is prefinished with several coats of solvent and formaldehyde free aluminum oxide for a low-VOC product. Flooring can be installed “floating” or glued into place. 25 year residential warranty for wear. Approx. cost: $4.90-6.85/sq. ft. plus installation.
  • Natural Floor cork Vinho Matte

  • Natural Cork: Cork is a renewable resource that is the bark of the cork tree. Harvested by hand from trees in Portugal, harvesting can occur every 9-11 years. Cork trees trees live for well over 100 years. Natural cork tiles and planks come in a wide variety of colours and styles and can be installed by clicking the tiles together without glues. Floors can also be dissassembled and resused. They can be installed directly over concrete. Finish is water-based, low VOC, and has a lifetime residential warranty. Approx. cost: $8.45-9.09/sq. ft. plus installation.Forbo:

Marmoleum Click

  • Marmoleum Click: The first flooring that has been certified by the American Allergy and AsthmaFoundation as being “asthma and allergy friendly” meaning it’s a good flooring option for people with asthma or allergies (not, as the term implies, that it  promotes asthma and allergies!). Marmoleum is known to be one of the best choices for flooring from an ecological point of view. It’s all natural, made from rapidly renewable resources, and manufactured in ecologically sensitive way. It’s also extremely durable and has been around for over 100 years. Marmoleum Click is a floating floor option that snaps together without use of glues. Approx. cost: $5.50-6.50/sq. ft. (excluding installation).


  • Fibreworks Sisal “Coastal Classic” Collection

    Sisal, Seagrass and Jute Carpets labelled “Grown Green” by the company — meaning they are grown sustainably, without fertilizers and pesticides and are also completely biodegradable (backings are either natural rubber or latex). There are many different styles and colours available. Approx. cost: $5-13/sq. ft.

Wool Carpet:

  • Earth Weave Dolomite Tussock

    Earthweave: is a premium carpet line developed for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. All carpets are 100% wool with natural backings of jute, latex or rubber. Carpets are untreated and undyed and completely non-toxic. Carpet weight ranges from 30 oz. to 44 oz. At end of life it can be put shredded and put in your composter. approx. cost: $13-14/sq. ft.

eFloor is located at 687 Caledonia Road, Toronto, ON, Phone: 416-630-8855.

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Eco Building Resource Offers Unique Green Building Products

February 11th, 2010

I went to Aurora yesterday to have a look at Eco Building Resource, a green building supplies store that carries a unique assortment of building materials. I’d been curious about this place ever since I met Kevin Royce a year ago and he gave me a little sample of fluffy insulation made from denim. I wondered what other cool products he carried.

He specializes in products which are good for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), a disorder that can cause symptoms such as skin rashes, respiratory problems and migraines. Many of the products selected are solvent-free, natural and non-toxic. When possible, preference is also given to products that are manufactured close to home. Below is a very brief description of some of the product lines the store carries:


Ultratouch cotton insulation

Ultra Touch Natural Fiber Insulation is made from 85% off-cuttings of denim that would otherwise end up in landfill. The last 15% comes from off-cuts from towel and sheet manufacturing and a few denim drives for old jeans. It has an R-value of 3.7/inch, and comes in batts just like fiberglass. It’s pest resistant and fire retardant. (Approximate Cost: $.85-$.90/square foot for R-13 batts).

Reflectix Radiant Barrier Insulation

Reflectix reflective panel insulation. Reflectix is a radiant barrier and acts to keep heat in by repelling it when it hits the barrier. Combined with Ultra touch R13 batts it can increase your building envelope’s R value to R22.  It’s great for insulating hot water heaters as well.

Durafoam: a low-expansion insulator to be used to filled holes left after window and door installation, or wherever there are any cracks or small openings. This is a zero-VOC product. (Cost: $13.95/spray can).

Sealants and Adhesives:

Adbond is an all-purpose adhesive and sealer that lets you caulk, seal and bond with one product. It has received Canada’s environmental choice logo and is made in Quebec. ($7/310ml tube).

Safecoat sealers: Safecoat is a unique company that develops products that are non-toxic and low or zero-VOC.

Safe Seal is used to seal porous surfaces such as particleboard and plywood, thereby preventing off-gassing of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde ($70/gallon).

Hard Seal: is used to seal both porous and non-porous products, but it has a gloss finish to it, so it adds a sheen that Safe Seal doesn’t.

Seal Once Waterproofer

Seal Once Waterproofer: This is a great product to seal outdoor decking and it’s perfect for cottage docks because it is completely non-toxic and won’t harm watershed systems. On vertical fencing it has a lifespan of 10 years, and on horizontal areas it has a lifespan of 6 years. (Cost: starts at $52/gallon. Tinting, extra).

Ozone Paints by Totem Coatings: This is a new line of paints that are produced just north of Toronto. The line is zero-VOC, including the tints. It is a soy-based product, (which is also grown in Ontario), so this is a very local product. This paint is medical grade (which means it can be used to paint the interior of medical facilities), and comes in interior and exterior versions, in all finishes (gloss, semi-gloss, eggshell, flat and primer). Cost: $45/gallon.

Murco M-100 drywall mud

Murco M100 Hypo-allergenic drywall mud: hypo-allergenic dry wall mud appeals to people with MCS. This is an all-natural product with zero-VOC off-gassing. ($50/25lb bag).

Tung Oil from the Real Milk Paint Company: Furniture makers and cabinet makers alike swear that this is the best quality tung oil on the market. It is a natural method for finishing or restoring floors, wood furniture and cabinetry  (Cost: $60/gallon).




Log’s End pine flooring: Log’s End recovers old pine logs from the riverbed of the Ottawa River. These are trees that never made it down the river for milling, but instead have sunk and remained on the river floor until now. (Cost depends on plank width but starts at around $5/square foot)

Jelinek Cork Flooring

Jelinek Cork Flooring

Cork Flooring by Jelinek: Cork is a renewable resource as it is only the bark that is harvested off the trees once every nine years. Cork is quiet and soft, water resistant, anti-static and is a great option for kitchens and playrooms. Eco Building Resouce carries the “click” line of cork flooring which can be used over top of concrete. Cork expands and contracts when concrete heaves with temperature changes so there are no gaps (Cost: starting at $4.50/square foot).

Eco Building Resource:

136 Wellington Street East
Aurora, ON L4G 1J1
(905) 841-3535

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