Is eco friendly' manufactured wood just an image

By Nelson Lebo

Over the past nine months, I have written confidently and comically about eco-thrifty renovation and eco-thrifty thinking. But this week I'm not so sure. I'll try to keep a sense of humour, but this is serious business.

Among many issues our villa had when we acquired it, one of the most notable was a large hole in the lounge floor, through which - based on the available evidence - an unidentified person entered and exited for the purposes of sleeping and writing dirty words on the walls.

We painted over the dirty words early on, but it was not until Boxing Day of this year - 26 months into the renovation began - that we officially sealed the hole in the floor and installed over it an engineered timber "floating floor". While we would have preferred restoring the existing native hardwood tongue and groove floor, most of the boards were cupped and some had split due, presumably, to the home being moved from an area with rising damp from the soil to our present location on sand with no rising damp. When timber dries out, it shrinks, leaving gaps. And who wants gaps in their floor letting cold air into the home? Okay, maybe certain Queenslanders, Victorians, and New South Welsh-folk may enjoy a cool breeze at present. But I digress.

Our approach to dealing with the lounge floor situation was to install a manufactured wood product floor, ie sawdust and glue with an image of wood grain on top.

Thrifty, yes, but is it eco?

The wood products industry would have us believe that this is an eco-product because it is made from waste materials and low quality timber that is not straight enough to be milled into dimensional lumber. But is that just spin, or "green-washing" as critics say?

In other words, is labelling this an Earth-friendly product a forethought or an afterthought? And does it matter? Surely the industry makes this product because it has the technology and materials to do so profitably. Profit, after all, above all else is a corporation's aim.

Don't get me wrong, I think the floor looks great. It is shiny, and crisp, and square - unlike most of our home. It will both reduce drafts and insulate our feet come winter. It has been cat-tested and approved (see photo), but is yet to be bubs tested.

But what do you reckon? Here are a few questions for readers of this column:

Are manufactured wood products sustainable products or just a sign that we've already cut all the good timber on Earth and are scrambling for scraps?

Should manufactured wood products we labelled as Earth-friendly?

When a floor is made of manufactured wood products, does it lack an authenticity of a floor made from actual pieces of wood?

Is Neil Diamond simply a great singer/song writer, or the greatest singer/song writer of all time?

I would enjoy publishing your thoughtful comments in a future column. Please email me your thoughts to


EventJanuary 27, 4-5.30pm: Growing Great Garlic, Terrific Tomatoes, Brilliant Broccoli and Perfect Pumpkins.

Location Wanganui Garden Centre, 95 Gonville Ave. Sliding scale $10-$20. Pre-registration and deposit required.

Registration: Nelson Lebo, 022 635 0868, 344 5013,

Nelson Lebo is co-founder of the ECO School with his wife Dani., 022 635 0868, 06 344 5013. They have extensively renovated an old villa at Castlecliff with green principles and sustainability in mind.

- Wanganui Chronicle

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 24 Jul 2016 04:58:59 Processing Time: 647ms