Wood flooring, furniture, and accents can add beauty and warmth to a home. It’s truly no wonder why wood is one of the most popular materials for interior decor. However, wood does carry quite a bit of ecological baggage. It takes decades for a tree to grow, and the widespread use of wood in the construction and home renovation sectors can lead to deforestation and all the ecological peril that entails. While the use of reclaimed wood is growing in popularity, it can’t cover the surging demand for wood. Can innovative and sustainable materials, like hemp wood, offer a better solution?
Recently, we’ve been looking at all the different ways hemp can be used to provide eco-friendly alternatives to polluting products we’ve almost taken for granted, like hemp plastic, hemp concrete, and hemp biofuel. Hemp wood definitely belongs in this category. Though still a relatively new creation, hemp wood already poses several considerable benefits over traditional wood flooring and other structures while also being the more environmentally friendly choice.
What Is Hemp Wood?
Like cork, bamboo, and eucalyptus flooring, hemp wood is made from the fibers of hemp plants, which are held together by an adhesive. The result is a smooth, beautiful wood substitute that looks and feels like oak.
While hemp paper has been around for centuries and hemp biofuel powered some of Henry Ford’s first Model Ts, hemp wood only appeared on the market a few years ago. However, in this short time, it’s managed to garner a lot of excitement. Already, you can purchase hemp flooring, hemp furniture, and even hemp picture frames.
How Is Hemp Wood Flooring Made?
The industrial hemp plant contains two different fibers. The fine bast is most often used to create hemp paper and hemp fabric. The woody hurds in the inner stem can be turned into building materials, including hemp wood.
The actual process includes cutting the hemp from the field, stripping off the leaves, softening the stalk, combing the fibers, treating the fibers, and aligning the fibers. The fibers are then compressed and glued together using a substance called a binder. Manufacturers looking to keep the product’s environmental footprint as low as possible typically use a plant-based resin as a binder. The most popular is a soy-based adhesive.
The result of the process is a wood-like composite of hemp fibers that have many properties of wood, including a wood-like feel and strength. The composite can then be cut into planks and boards to be used in flooring.
The Benefits of Hemp Flooring
Not only does hemp wood look and feel like real wood, but it also offers several important advantages over the real thing.
1. Hemp Wood Is Stronger Than Wood
Hemp wood is 20% harder than oak with a density rating of 50 – 55 pounds per cubic foot. This is a big deal because one of the biggest disadvantages of many types of hardwood floors is that they can be scratched and dented easily. Hemp wood is much more durable.
2. Hemp Wood Is Sustainable
While it takes oak, hickory, and maple trees hundreds of years to grow, hemp plants reach maturity in just 120 days — less if you grow autoflowers. Trees also provide homes and shelters to wildlife. Their foliage keeps the ground cool and helps keep moisture in the soil. Rampant deforestation is a big contributor to climate change and habitat loss for many species across the world.
Hemp wood can help keep trees in the ground. Hemp can grow in a wide range of soils, even in places where other crops can’t survive, so it doesn’t need to take over land already in use. As it grows, hemp acts as a natural carbon sink, pulling carbon from the atmosphere. Best of all is its fast maturation. Once hemp is harvested, a whole new crop can be planted and grown in another few months.
3. Hemp Wood Can Be Non-Toxic
Most of the current hemp wood on the market is made using an organic soy adhesive, which doesn’t contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In contrast, many other types of flooring use seriously harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde.
4. Hemp Wood Offers Greater Stability
Along with being more durable than most hardwood flooring, hemp wood is also less likely to warp or twist over time.
5. Hemp Wood is Fully Recyclable
Hemp flooring made using a soy adhesive is completely recyclable and biodegradable.
The Drawbacks of Hemp Wood
The primary drawback of hemp wood is that it retails for around $10 per square foot. This makes it considerably more expensive than many wood flooring options, as well as wood alternatives, like bamboo and luxury vinyl. Additionally, hemp wood flooring that uses a soy adhesive is less waterproof than flooring that uses more toxic adhesives.
As time goes on and production methods become more efficient, it’s likely that the price of hemp wood will drop.
What Is the Future of Hemp Wood?
It’s too early to tell if hemp wood will become a popular flooring alternative to hardwood flooring or whether we’ll start to see hemp wood tables, chairs, and the like appear in retail stores. However, as builders and consumers actively call for more sustainable materials, hemp wood certainly seems like a potential game-changer.
It may also represent a game-changing opportunity for CBD and CBG hemp farmers. Farmers primarily interested in growing hemp for CBD or CBG have the potential to develop a secondary income stream by selling their hemp biomass to companies that could turn it into hemp wood. This might be a topic worth discussing with your hemp broker or looking into yourself.
At High Grade Hemp Seed, we love the idea of our customers getting the most bang for each hemp seed they plant in the ground. Of course, our first consideration is offering feminized hemp seeds with the highest quantity of CBG or CBD, but we wouldn’t mind putting our feet up on a hemp wood table at the end of the day! Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about our hemp seed strains.