How to Choose Hypoallergenic Flooring


Indoor air is subject to pollution from a number of common household items, including flooring. Carpet fibers can release mold spores and dust mites into the air, in addition to off-gassing from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in their manufacture. VOCs may also be present in adhesives used to install tile floors. Formaldehyde may be used in the manufacture or finish of some wood flooring. While it may not be possible to avoid exposure to all chemical substances, homeowners can choose flooring options that can limit that exposure.

  • Look for greener options if you are considering carpeting. In 1992, the Carpet and Rug Institute developed a testing and certification program for the carpeting industry titled the Green Label program. Carpets and adhesives carrying this label are certified to contain low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Confirm the use of low VOC adhesives with your installer on the day of installation.

  • Consider installing ceramic or stone tile flooring. Ceramic and stone tiles are made from natural materials. Additionally, they are installed using grout made from Portland cement, which does not emit odors.

  • Choose high-end vinyl tiles if vinyl flooring is a desired option. Vinyl is easy to maintain, and its hard surface is not mold or dust-mite friendly. However, inexpensive vinyl flooring is more likely to contain a higher level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

  • Consider cork or linoleum flooring. Both of these environmentally friendly options are low in allergens and are easy to maintain. Consult your retailer about the use of low-VOC adhesives prior to installation.

  • Research formaldehyde-free options in wood flooring. Natural hardwood is basically allergen free. Engineered wood is made from multiple layers of wood held together by adhesives that may contain formaldehyde and other chemicals. If possible, choose snap-together floating floor installation instead of glue-down installation. Bamboo is naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial; however, some people suffer allergic reactions to bamboo or the adhesives used to install it.

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