My Wilsonart Experience: Eco-Friendly Flooring Installation

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A few weeks ago, I was presented with a unique and exciting opportunity. Flooring manufacturer Wilsonart contacted me to tell me about their eco-friendly laminate flooring, made in the U.S. with a minimum of 70% pre-consumer recycled content. When I questioned how practical and durable this flooring could be, Wilsonart generously offered to install my choice of high-pressure laminate flooring for free in my home. I selected the flooring I wanted a few weeks ago, and last Friday, a team of installers from my local Wilsonart retailer, Dalton Carpet One, came by to tear out our carpet and replace it with sleek hardwood laminate. And I wanted to dance a jig :)

The installers were scheduled to arrive between 8:30 and 9 a.m., and they showed up promptly at 8:40. And within 15 minutes, the carpet was no more. It took a little longer to prepare the bare concrete floor for installation, scraping what remained of the carpet pad and adhesive and removing carpet tacks. Finally, they laid a sheet of what looked like vinyl over the concrete to protect the new floor from moisture. The installers weren’t sure if the material was vinyl, and I was concerned about offgassing. However, I also understood the need to protect the new floor from moisture, and I was comforted by the fact that it wouldn’t be visible or accessible once the flooring was completely installed.

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The installers assured us we could walk on the concrete and even the new floor as they finished installing a section, reminding us that it would be an all-day job. We still tried to stay out of their way as much as possible, but there were moments when we had to sneak by to get from room to room. The newly installed areas didn’t even shift an inch. The process wasn’t as loud or dusty as I expected, because much of the cutting was done outside — in the garage, thanks to a sudden thunderstorm. No adhesives were needed, because Wilsonart flooring is designed to be installed with a simple tap and lock system. It was actually pretty impressive to see the seams disappear as the flooring planks were tapped together.

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All things considered, the installation process was relatively quick and painless, and the new floor was complete by about 3 p.m. A few planks were left over, and the installers left it for us in the event a plank is ever damaged and needs to be replaced. My mother made a quick pass with a Swiffer wet cloth to pick up all the remaining dust, and we stepped back to admire the new floor.

I couldn’t believe the difference in the room. In fact, I’m still in awe at how much bigger, cleaner and more open the space looks. I sincerely could not have imagined a better result. The varied tones in the wood are as beautiful as we imagined they would be, and it looks as much like real wood as I had hoped it would. The only “problem” is that the dark wood entertainment center now disappears into the floor because the colors are so similar. We plan to take care of that relatively easily with some darker stain or chocolate brown paint and new, more modern chrome hardware. I’ll be sure to post the results once the makeover is complete.

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Suffice it to say we are all exceptionally happy with the results. Aside from the fact that I now have to sweep every other days because the laminate has a way of collecting a thin layer of dust, I honestly couldn’t be more pleased. I love the fact that the carpet is no more, at least in the living room and hallway, and I’m even happier that it was replaced with an eco-friendly option. My mother is so happy that she plans on calling Dalton Carpet One again to finish the kitchen and another hallway with the same Wilsonart flooring. At about $3-5 per square foot, it should be be pretty affordable. I’ll check in again a few weeks after we’ve lived with our new floor for a while.

Now we just have to figure out how to recycle the remnant carpet that’s now rolled up in the garage. Any suggestions?

Why It’s Green:

  • Made of a minimum of 70% pre-consumer recycled content
  • GREENGUARD certified for indoor air quality
  • Made in the U.S.

Price: $3.89-5.09/square foot. Find a local retailer by entering your zip code in the top right corner of the Wilsonart home page.

(review)

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7 comments… add one

  • Lena August 4, 2009, 11:36 am

    It looks great! How do they recommend you clean it?

  • jennae August 4, 2009, 11:48 am

    @Lena I’m still waiting to hear back from them on whether I can use the Better Life Simply Floored cleaner that I love so much. I have been dry sweeping it every day. And though Wilsonart recommends that customers avoid wet mopping and wipes, the installers said we’d be OK using the Swiffer wet cloths. Not the wet jet that sprays water, but the cloths that come pre-moistened.

    Since I’d prefer not to use the recommended Wilsonart cleaner because it does contain chemicals, I’m really hoping I can get away with using a damp mop with just water until I find out whether my natural cleaners are suitable. Hope that helps!

  • Fahrenhyt August 4, 2009, 12:11 pm

    The flooring is beautiful Jennae, I wonder if they have any bamboo material that they can install at our house. I know you’d like to rip out all this carpeting and have hard surface throughout the main floor of the house using only sustainable material.

  • Lynn August 4, 2009, 5:46 pm

    This looks beautiful! As for cleaning it, we had one of the first laminate floors when this idea came over from Sweden. We never used anything to clean it but a bit of soap and water. The reason not to get it too wet is not because the laminate will be damaged (think of the old laminate counter tops–that’s what these floors are), but because, I believe, if you use too much water it MIGHT seep between somehow and cause water to pool under the floor. Just think of it as a countertop on the floor and you’ll be fine. I’m very curious to know whether anyone is making 100% pre-recycled or better yet, post consumer laminates. Also am curious about that underlayment. What’s that made from–think you’re right about the off-gassing, but still, it would be great if it were eco-friendly too. One other question…how did these come packaged? Was the packaging recyclable, compostable or? You love this product and it would be great if they heard from you how they can make it even more earth-friendly!

  • jennae August 4, 2009, 6:20 pm

    @Lynn Excellent questions, and a great point about thinking of it as countertops on the floor. We (unfortunately) have laminate countertops in the kitchen, and while they can handle spills, we try not to let the water pool for very long.

    I do wonder if anyone is making 100% recycled or using post-consumer materials, but I have yet to find a manufacturer who is doing so. A minimum of 70% is definitely a step in the right direction. I do wish the underlay was made of EVA vinyl, which wouldn’t offgas. I can’t until the time comes when more building materials are 100% green. As for the packaging, it came in cardboard boxes that were wrapped in recyclable #4 plastic. I’m happy about that, but I’m definitely passing along my ideas for improvements.

  • roslyn August 5, 2009, 8:10 am

    the floor looks BEAUTIFUL!! now it is time for some color and life on those walls! :-)

  • Oonafey August 5, 2009, 1:36 pm

    Our new house has hardwood and it seems to get dusty and dirty so quick. Then I realized yesterday that it doesn’t get dirtier quicker, it just shows what the carpet doesn’t. Just imagine all the dust and grime that was in those carpets! Ick.
    I like the convenience aspect of those swiffer pre-moistened cloths, but my fiance is concerned about the waste. Does anyone make pre-moistened cleaning cloths that are bio-degradable and hardwood friendly?

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