Wood flooring is considered quite sustainable, but with many tree species on the brink of extinction, people are looking for alternatives.
Hemp wood flooring is an engineered type of wood made of compressed hemp plants. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it is also practical and can be used just like other wooden flooring types.
Hemp wood floors are durable and resistant to scratches or damage; they can easily replace standard hardwood floors. Additionally, they are made of sustainable and non-toxic materials, so they are suitable for indoor use. However, hemp wood flooring needs more maintenance and is not easy to find.
In the rest of this article, I will cover the pros and cons of hemp wood flooring.
Additionally, I will provide more information about where to buy hemp wood flooring and how much it may cost.
The Pros of Hemp Flooring
I’ve just touched on some positive aspects of hemp flooring, but many other advantages can convince anyone to use this type of wood flooring.
I will explore every one of them below.
They Are Very Eco Friendly
The main selling point of hemp wood flooring is that it is made of a very sustainable material.
Almost every part of the hemp plant can be used for different purposes. Even the parts that can’t be used are biodegradable, returning nutrients to the soil.
Additionally, an acre of hemp can produce more wood for flooring than a forest. If hemp wood were to be used commercially and on a large scale, it would solve significant sustainability issues.
They Replace Endangered Types of Wood
Traditional hardwood flooring uses different types of wood. Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods used for solid hardwood flooring; unfortunately, it’s becoming endangered like most hardwoods.
Several species of oak trees in Mexico, the United States, Vietnam, and other countries are close to extinction.
Thankfully, hemp wood is here to save the day.
Hemp flooring is very similar in appearance to oak and other hardwood floorings, providing sustainable and durable options without cutting down endangered trees.
Like its sustainable cousin, bamboo flooring, hemp flooring is an engineered type of wood, similar to particle board. It is typically formed into tongue and groove planks that come in a variety of stain colors and are easily installed.
Hemp veneer can be used for flooring, but like wood veneer, it must be attached to plywood to provide sufficient strength.
The Hemp Plant Is a Rapidly Renewable Resource
You may not have heard much about the hemp plant, especially considering that it wasn’t even legal to grow in the United States until 2018.
What’s fascinating about this plant is that it can grow many times faster than trees, offering large amounts of material for flooring in a very short time.
Hemp is a weed, not a tree. As a weed, it needs about four months to grow, which is a hundred times faster than it takes any comparable tree – even fast-growing softwoods – to produce the wood needed for flooring.
Compare this to most hardwoods, which take approximately 100 years or more to reach maturity, and you can see the benefit of using hemp.
Even cork flooring relies on harvesting that can only take place once every nine years by removing the bark from the cork oak trees.
Despite cork flooring using a resource that renews itself in less than ten years, it is still no match for hemp.
Because hemp grows so quickly, you can get a fully grown hemp plant ready for harvesting and processing into hemp floors in months rather than years from the moment you plant the seeds.
Although not quite as fast-growing as hemp, bamboo is a crop successfully used to produce renewable building materials such as bamboo flooring, roofs, and structural elements.
If you’re interested in discovering more about how bamboo can be used in construction, why not read our article here?
The Hemp Plant Absorbs Massive Amounts of Carbon Dioxide
There are more environmental benefits to using hemp wood flooring than you think.
Besides replacing endangered species of hardwoods and efficiently producing more material than forests, hemp plants absorb large amounts of carbon.
All plants absorb carbon to an extent, but hemp fibers are excellent. They can absorb more than four times the amount of carbon throughout their four-month lifespan than a forest of the same size.
Using hemp wood for floors instead of installing solid hardwood flooring would benefit the earth in more ways than one.
Hemp Flooring Is Durable
Many sustainable options lack the durability to be used as replacements for wood on a large scale. Fortunately, this is not the case for hemp flooring since its strength is comparable to natural wood or even better.
Because engineered hemp flooring is a relatively new building material, its durability has yet to be widely recognized, at least in an official capacity.
However, according to those who produce and use it, it can reach up to 2,750 on the Janka Hardness scale. This Janka score means that it can be harder than oak (including red oak and white oak), black walnut, Australian cypress, maple, Brazilian cherry, pine, douglas fir, and other hardwood species used to produce flooring.
The above rating means that hemp wood flooring can be incredibly resistant to damage and scratches. It may be a good solution if you have dogs or other pets.
Hemp Wood Is Non-Toxic
In general, there’s some apprehensiveness when it comes to engineered woods because of their potential toxicity.
For some types of engineered lumber, manufacturers use glue and other chemicals that may be released by the wood at a later time, especially indoors. The glue used for some can release formaldehyde and isocyanates, which can be harmful to you.
As mentioned above, hemp wood is engineered wood made of compressed raw hemp stalks glued to one another.
However, the natural materials used to create hemp wood are eco-friendly and non-toxic, typically using natural materials like soy-based adhesive to bind everything together.
Thanks to the soy-based binder, you can be sure that your hemp wood floor won’t release any toxic gasses, such as volatile organic compounds, that could affect your home’s indoor air quality.
The Cons of Hemp Flooring
Before you run to find eco-friendly hemp wood for your floors, you should also be aware of the potential disadvantages of hemp flooring.
As you’ve seen so far, this type of material is an excellent sustainable option for other types of wood, but it has its drawbacks:
Hemp Wood Is Not Waterproof
The truth is that no type of wood can be completely waterproof, natural or engineered.
It’s in the nature of wood to be fibrous and absorbent, so while it is water resistant, you can’t call hemp flooring waterproof.
Once it has absorbed a certain amount of water, the wood can bend, break, and show other signs of damage.
Engineered wood is no exception to the above rule. Hemp wood is very durable, strong, and water-resistant, but it can be damaged by water.
If your floor is likely to be in contact with water, consider switching to tiles for better performance.
Hemp Wood Is Not Moisture Proof
Wood can also absorb moisture in the air, which is an issue for hardwood floors.
Engineered wood fares better in this respect, but it can still be vulnerable. In addition, moisture causes more or less the same problems I explained above, so you should consider not using hemp flooring for bathrooms or kitchens.
Also, always use a vapor barrier to cover the installation area before fitting the hemp tongue and groove flooring.
This advice is especially important if you are fitting the flooring directly on top of a concrete slab because the concrete will allow moisture to travel up from the ground and will interfere with adhesives unless stopped by a vapor barrier.
Hemp Flooring Can Be High-Maintenance
One of the reasons why people look for alternatives to natural wood is the fact that hardwood floors require a lot of maintenance. They need frequent sweeping and cleaning with particular solutions, recoating, and repairing.
Unfortunately, hemp flooring needs to be maintained the same way. They require the same care, including daily cleaning and spot removal, as well as removing residual moisture from spillages and drips promptly to avoid damage.
Hemp Wood Flooring Is Not Widely Available and Is Relatively Expensive
Hemp wood is a recent discovery, so it hasn’t had enough time to catch on and become as popular as one would like. Even with all the advantages mentioned above, hemp flooring is still a new trend, so you won’t be able to find them as easily as most wood species.
However, this situation will likely change, considering the urgent need for sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. Unfortunately, if you want to use hemp flooring, only a few places offer it.
Hemp flooring is also a bit more expensive than most regular types of flooring offered by the wood industry.
The different processes used to produce the planks and the sustainability practices increase the price slightly. However, their price is still comparable to pricier hardwood, so if you want more flooring for your dollar, you should try other options.
Where To Buy Hemp Wood Flooring
The first company to introduce hemp flooring was Fibonacci LLC., located in Maryland.
This company is still a leader in hemp wood production in the United States and owns several patents related to hemp usage in different industries. You can order directly from the company at hempwood.com. You can also order a sample for $1 to judge the material for yourself.
This company also distributes to other retailers around the country. So, if you find hemp flooring in any of your local stores, chances are it’s from Fibonacci.
How Much Does Hemp Wood Flooring Cost?
Considering the strength and sustainability of hemp wood, you may wonder if it’s too expensive.
Hemp wood flooring costs about $10 at Fibonacci, but you may find it at a slightly higher price in your nearest retail stores. For instance, unfinished flooring may be around $13 at some stores.
If you want to add a top coat, you may have to add a couple more dollars to that price. Naturally, the total cost of your new floor will be more after you consider installation costs.
As you can see, hemp flooring is not cheap but still comparable to some pricier types of hardwood, like Brazilian cherry.
Compared to them, hemp wood offers many more benefits in terms of sustainability and environmental impact. Moreover, it’s as strong or even more robust than other flooring types, and it can be cut, stained, and sanded just like them.
Final Thoughts On Hemp Wood Floors
Hemp wood has the potential to become one of the most popular materials in woodworking in the future.
It’s made of dried, all-natural hemp stalks, which take only a few months to grow and are very eco-friendly.
Moreover, hemp wood is non-toxic and doesn’t use any toxic adhesive, preferring instead to use soy-based glue, which doesn’t emit any toxic gasses like some types of engineered wood. This helps to keep your home’s indoor air quality good.
Besides sustainability, hempwood flooring is comparable to and sometimes superior to traditional wood flooring.
It’s durable, strong, and great for flooring. You can cut, sand, or paint it just like solid wood.
Currently, it’s not widely available and is a bit expensive.
Please read our article here if you are interested in learning more about sustainable building materials.