Many love hardwood floors for their look and feel, but hate the damage done to the environment when they're harvested. Stone is very nice and elegant but not very budget friendly. And there are other options to consider, both for environmental reasons and for your budget. But many of these options will require the services of a professional in order to be installed properly.

And of course it's not just the materials alone that render something environmentally friendly. The other materials used for installation and the techniques used also need to be considered.

To find a professional for a simulated wood or stone floor, consider the following:

  • Ask for referrals from other general contractors or real estate agents, interior designers, and even where you would purchase flooring materials.
  • Get referrals from friends and family if they've had this work done.
  • Start with the internet but of course you should narrow your search by the location in which you live.

And when you find a professional, be sure to ask him or her:

  • If they're licensed to practice in .
  • If they have a bond and are insured.
  • If they have a certification for being eco-friendly.
  • How much experience they've had and how long they've been in business.
  • If you can get a free estimate for the job and a warranty on it as well.
  • If there are other flooring options they would recommend, including the pros and cons of each.

And to be sure your contractor is really eco-friendly:

  • Look for certifications from eco-friendly organizations.
  • Their vehicle should also be somewhat eco-friendly if possible.
  • They should use adhesives on the floor that are non-toxic.
  • Should always work with eco-friendly materials when possible.
  • He or she should suggest cork and bamboo as an alternative without you even asking.

Your choice of flooring and how you care for it once it's installed is very important. Simulated materials especially look real but need different care than the real thing. Usually their care is easier and they are more durable but there are some cons to working with these items. Your contractor should help you to understand how to best care for these floors as well.

And when your floor has been installed, be sure to:

  • Follow those care tips you've been given!
  • Scoop up the compliments you'll get on your beautiful new floor.
  • Mention your contractor's name to others so he or she can get those referrals.