It doesn’t take more than a few quick searches to realize that some flooring choices are healthier than others.
In 2015, an investigation led to a $33 million payout from Lumber Liquidators after lying to investors about the sale of laminate flooring from China. The flooring exceeded the maximum acceptable limits for formaldehyde emissions, which ended up being sold and installed in 760,000 households.
Of course, that’s just one of many problems you’ll find if you spend a little time searching online.
Manufacturers have one goal: To sell and create a profit. Some are more reputable than others.
Whether you want hardwood, laminate, vinyl, carpet, or tile, the more you learn early on, the better chance you have of selecting a material that will wear well and last for years … and provide a safe, healthy environment at the same time.
What should you look for?
Creating a safer environment with your flooring choice
Let’s start with the basics. When you’re looking for healthy flooring, spend time considering:
- Durability: Healthy flooring should be able to withstand daily wear and tear and last for many years. It should be created from quality materials that won’t contribute to poor indoor air quality, and manufactured in such a way that is eco-friendly and sustainable for the environment.
- Easy to clean: Look for flooring that is easy to clean and maintain. This will help to reduce the buildup of dirt, dust, and other contaminants that can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
- Low VOCs: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that can off-gas from certain materials, contributing to indoor air pollution. Choose flooring with low VOCs to help improve indoor air quality.
- Allergen resistance: If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, choosing flooring resistant to allergens such as dust and pet dander may be helpful.
- Slip resistance: Consider flooring with a slip-resistant surface to help prevent falls and accidents.
- Noise reduction: If you live in a multi-unit building or are concerned about noise levels in your home, look for flooring that can help to reduce noise transmission.
- Sustainable materials: Choose flooring made from sustainable materials to help reduce the environmental impact of your home or business.
Getting specific with health flooring choices
The more research you do before you search for flooring, the better prepared you’ll be when comparing manufacturers and brands. Let’s look at some of the top flooring products and how they impact your health.
When selecting hardwood flooring for your home, there are a few key factors to consider when it comes to indoor air quality. Here are some steps you can follow to ensure you choose a product that will help improve the air quality in your home:
- Choose a product with low VOCs: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals emitted as gasses from certain products, and they can negatively affect indoor air quality. Look for hardwood flooring products with low VOCs, as these will have a lower impact on the air quality in your home.
- Consider the finish: The finish applied to your hardwood flooring can also impact indoor air quality. Look for products with finishes that are low in VOCs, or opt for a natural finish, such as oil or wax.
- Choose sustainably harvested wood: Sustainably harvested wood is not only better for the environment, but it can also improve indoor air quality. Look for products with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which ensures that the wood has been sustainably harvested and processed.
- Consider the installation process: The installation process can also impact indoor air quality. Choose a reputable installer who follows proper ventilation and dust control procedures to minimize the impact on indoor air quality.
When selecting carpet flooring for health and indoor air quality, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Material: Choose carpet made from natural, breathable materials such as wool or hemp, as these materials are less likely to off-gas harmful chemicals. Avoid synthetic carpets made from materials like nylon or polypropylene, as these may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when made through a less-than-reputable manufacturer.
- Padding: Select a carpet pad made from a breathable, natural material such as rubber or recycled felt. This will help reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth, as well as reduce the emission of VOCs.
- Installation: Proper installation is crucial for maintaining the quality of your carpet and the indoor air. Choose a professional installer certified in low-VOC installation techniques, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining and cleaning your carpet.
- Certification: Look for carpets certified by organizations like the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These certifications indicate that the carpet has been tested for VOC emissions and other harmful chemicals.
- Maintenance: Regular vacuuming and deep cleaning can help to maintain the quality of your carpet and the indoor air. Choose a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which can capture small particles and allergens that can contribute to indoor air pollution.
Luxury vinyl planks
Selecting luxury vinyl planks (LVP) flooring for health and indoor air quality involves considering several factors. Here are some steps to follow:
Check the material composition: LVP flooring materials are known for their durability and resistance to water, stains, and scratches. Avoid LVP flooring that contains harmful chemicals like phthalates, which can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect indoor air quality.
Look for low-VOC options: Choose LVP flooring that has low VOC levels. VOCs are gasses emitted from certain products and can have adverse health effects, especially when they accumulate in poorly ventilated spaces. Look for LVP flooring certified by organizations like Greenguard or FloorScore, which ensure that the flooring has low levels of VOCs.
Consider the installation process: The installation process can also impact indoor air quality. Choose LVP flooring that can be easily installed using a floating method, which does not require the use of adhesives. Adhesives can emit VOCs and potentially affect indoor air quality.
Consider the maintenance requirements: LVP flooring is known for being low-maintenance and easy to clean. However, certain cleaning products and techniques can potentially harm indoor air quality. Avoid using harsh chemicals and opt for natural, non-toxic cleaning products. Also, ensure to properly ventilate the room during and after cleaning to allow any emitted fumes to dissipate.
What flooring choice is right for you?
With so many healthy flooring options available, it’s important to start with your goals in mind. What’s most important? Durability? Beauty? Functionality?
With that in place, keep your mind open and come in and search for the perfect flooring choice to suit your needs.
You might be surprised at where it leads you. But no matter your final decision, you’ll fall in love with your new flooring and enjoy it for years to come.