In recent years it has become more evident that pollution has a big negative impact on our planet, industries need to change to a more sustainable system, same goes for flooring, this is where Hemp Flooring may help.
Hemp has been used by mankind for a long time, it is known for its universal purpose, it can be used for a wide variety of commercial, medical, and industrial products including clothing, ropes, biofuel, food, medicine, hempcrete, bioplastics, insulation and more. One of the most universal plants on earth.
If we look at eco-friendly types of flooring in the industry bamboo and cork are the two main materials used, we will talk about those further down in this article, let’s dive into Hemp Flooring and see what it’s all about.
What is Hemp Flooring?
Hemp Flooring was first introduced by the company HempWood based in Kentucky, its the only hardwood hemp on the flooring market at this time. Hemp Flooring comes in engineered planks just like other engineered hardwood floors do, the hemp is compressed creating strong, solid flooring planks. It grows much faster than other flooring materials and is more sustainable for our Planet. HempWood also offers Furniture, Frames, and Lumber – all hemp-based.
Production of Hemp Flooring
The Production Process of HempWood Flooring starts in the fields, Hemp grows rapidly and is harvested within 120 days of sowing. Hemp Fibers are then collected and compressed, the compressed fibers are glued together using plant-based resin (soy) making HempWood a 100% Natural product. It is important to understand that while HempWood is 100% Hemp, Hemp Flooring is not. Hemp Flooring is made by Engineering HempWood and Plywood together, the final product consisting of a top 4.5mm layer of Hemp and a base layer of plywood.
Hemp is very sustainable. To fully understand Hemp sustainability compared to wood here is an interesting fact; 1 acre of Hemp and produce as much paper as 4-10 acres of trees can in a 20 year period. This is undoubtedly a strong argument that the paper industry should fully switch to Hemp and the Construction Industry should be using more of it too.
Although Hemp Flooring is not just HempWood, it is a large chunk of the product, the other chunk being Plywood. Plywood can also be supplied sustainably, most Plywood providers plant as many trees as they cut. The only bad side being Plywood is not biodegradable, however, it is nowhere near as harmful as plastics.
This is one of the advantages of HempWood Flooring, simply put it’s very strong, stronger than oak, this is measured by the Janka Rating. The Janka Hardness rating measures the durability and strength of different woods, the flooring standard being around 1400.
HempWood states that HempWood Flooring measures at a Janka Hardness Rating of 2600, meaning it’s harder than other wood types such as Oak and Hickory, in fact, HempWood is stronger than most wood types. Not only is HempWood Flooring very strong it is also 100% non-toxic and 100% Natural.
|Wood Species||Janka Hardeness Rating|
Installation of Hemp Flooring
Hemp Wood Flooring comes in tongue and groove style planks and can be installed over many subfloors such as concrete (glue down) and wood, this can be achieved using 2 different installation methods.
Nail/ Staple Down
The Nailing Down installation is just as the name suggests simply nailing down the flooring planks to your subfloor.
This can be done in two ways, you can nail down normally leaving the nails exposed or you can use a special method that hides the nails by nailing them down at an angle. To learn this technique you can watch this video.
This method is not recommended for a person with no experience laying floors. The staple method is very similar to nailing down but by using a staple gun with large staples. Watch this video to see how the staple method works.
In addition, you can use an underlayment layer for insulation and protection from moisture for your hemp wood floor.
To Glue-down a wood floor is similar to tiling a floor, you put a layer of glue on your subfloor then you lay down your flooring and secure/tighten to achieve no gaps and a solid floor.
Unfortunately, Hemp Wood Flooring cannot be installed using the Floating Floor method.
HempWood also provides their own document of instructions, view it here. It is very important that you read this document before ordering to ensure the prep and installation is correctly done.
Cost & Availibility of Hemp Flooring
The cost for unfinished Hemp Wood Flooring stands at $9.99 per square foot, this puts it in the low to medium range for Hardwood Flooring. You should also add the cost of your chosen stain/ finish to this cost, which is around an extra dollar per square foot. HempWood also offers prefinished flooring, it is best to contact them directly for the cost of this option.
Hemp Flooring is available on the HempWood website since summer 2020, so a relatively new product. You can buy a sample of the product on the HempWood website, once you’ve decided if you like it you can call them directly for large/normal flooring orders.
Does Hemp Flooring come Prefinished and can you Stain it?
Yes, as I mentioned before HempWood also offers prefinished Flooring, these come in two different styles a light finish and a dark finish. HempWood firstly treats the Flooring with a UV treated polyurethane and after a coat of Bona Oil, so a very durable finish indeed, if you like the prefinished styles then that’s the product we would go for as some of the work is already done for you.
Can Hemp Flooring take a Stain? According to the makers, yes it can. Here is a list of different staining liquids and if they are good for HempWood Flooring;
- Oil-Based Stains – Apply 1-2 coats, allow to sit for longer than normal. Dries slower than on Oak, wipe the excess stain off once your preferred result has been achieved. Bona products seem to be the most reliable in this category.
- Water-Based Stains – Water- Based stains increase the graining on Hemp Wood, Not Recommended for this type of flooring.
- Polyurethane – Apply 1-2 coats (2 preferred), Lightly Sand the floor between coats.
- Walnut Oil – Apply 2 Coats of Oil then apply wax, wipe off the excess, and buff.
- Epoxy – Works really well with Hemp Wood, apply one or two coats.
- Wood Hardener – Apply 1-2 coats, lightly sand in between coats. Wood Hardener strengthens wood and also increases moisture resistance.
- Refinishing? Hemp Flooring can be refinished just like Oak Hardwood Flooring. Use this Guide for more info.
HempWood Flooring has similar moisture resistance values to most hardwood flooring types, it isn’t 100% waterproof and can expand, contract, and bend due to water damage. The key is to add protection layers that limit the chances of your Hemp Floor being damaged by Moisture, In Addition, you should take care precautions which are mentioned below.
How to Care & Protect
- Never Use a Steam Mop on Hemp Wood Flooring – This Flooring doesn’t handle steam mops very well and they can cause damage from too much moisture, don’t use very wet mops too.
- Use Furniture Pads – Stick felt protectors to the feet of your furniture to prevent scratches from appearing.
- Use Area Rugs – Place area rugs in High Traffic Areas of your Home. You can also use Bona Traffic on all your floors if you believe they are exposed to High Traffic.
- Don’t use normal Household Cleaning Products – Some Household cleaning products can damage your floor and create stains that don’t come off, use a specialized Hardwood Cleaner such as Bona.
- Keep your Spare Planks – Always keep your spare planks at hand just in case a Plank is damaged and needs replacement.
- Keep Humidity Between 35-55% – This is the right Huminidity for HempWood Flooring stated by HempWood itself. Use a dehumidifier if needed, or install a ventilation system if humidity is too high.
- Use the Right Mop & Cleaning Products for Hardwood – Use a Professional Mop & Cleaning liquid for your Floors. Bona seems to be the most reliable and affordable option.
- Use the Right Vaccum & always vacuum before cleaning – Some Vacuums actually do more bad than good for your Hardwood, you need to use the right vacuum to prevent causing damage.
- Add Protective Layers – Adding protective layers can increase the longevity of your Flooring. You can use solutions like Wood Hardener, Epoxy, or Bona Care Oil to strengthen and add moisture protection.
Is Hemp Flooring similar to Bamboo Flooring?
Yes, Hemp Flooring and Bamboo Flooring have many similiraties such as;
- Hemp and Bamboo are both fast-growing eco-friendly sustainable crops.
- Bamboo and Hemp both rely on a Plywood Core.
- Hemp and Bamboo are both very strong (however avoid cheap bamboo).
- They can both be refinished.
- Both Bamboo and Hemp Plants have the ability to absorb huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere, crucial for stopping global warming.
Other Eco-Friendly Flooring Types
Cork is a relatively new flooring type, it was used for wine bottles and wall pictures frames, now recently cork is also being used for flooring. Harvested from the bark of the oak tree found in the Meditteranean, the trees are NOT cut down, the bark is harvested and grows back every 3 years. Simply an excellent renewable source of material that doesn’t damage our planet. Cork can be finished in a similar way to other hardwood floors using different paints and stains. A good Cork Floor can last 10-30 years.
As mentioned before Bamboo is very similar to Hemp, its a rapidly growing crop that has the ability to take out huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and is far more productive than traditional wood. Bamboo Flooring can be found in different finishes online, It’s very durable however cheap versions of bamboo can be far from that. Cali Bamboo is a US recognized Bamboo Flooring brand which you can rely on.
The most used material in the production of concrete is limestone, the most abundant mineral on earth. Furthermore, Concrete is sometimes created by using waste materials from power plants which lower pollution. Polished Concrete has recently become a trendy modern-looking type of flooring and can also be used on walls.
Other Hemp Construction Materials
HempCrete is made by mixing Hemp Shivs and lime to create a natural construction material with excellent properties. It can be used for Walls, Roof Insulation & Floors. HempCrete is breathable and can both absorb and release moisture creating a damp-free home. This material also provides excellent acoustic and thermal insulation keeping your home warm and cozy. HempCrete is cheap to produce and is already being used on Industrial buildings in Europe.
Normal insulation consists of 51% plant fibers and 49% plastics. Hemp Insulation is 92% Hemp Fiber and 8% Polyester therefore greatly reducing the use of plastics in Insulation. This insulation performs just as well as traditional types and is only going to expand its share of the insulation sector.
Final Verdict on Hemp Flooring
To Conclude this article we must say that Hemp Flooring is a new concept to the flooring industry but it can only be a positive one for our planet. Hemp Wood is relatively new therefore there aren’t many reviews online, its a little bit too early to judge on quality and reliability. Saying that, if you are planning on building an Eco-Home which is increasingly popular nowadays we think Hemp Flooring is certainly a good option for you if you don’t mind the lack of reviews.
What do you think of Hemp Flooring & Hemp Materials in General? Post your comments in the comment section below.