Looking for a healthy flooring option for your home? Want to improve your indoor air quality? All paths lead to hardwood floors.
Hardwood flooring is a good choice when you’re ready to bring timeless beauty, warmth, and elegance to any room in your home. It’s also a great choice if you want eco-friendly and allergy-friendly flooring.
Unlike other choices, hardwood floors don’t harbor dirt, pollutants, or contaminants. But there is an art in selecting the right hardwood flooring options.
What is an allergy?
Allergies are fairly common in the US. Around 50 million people in the US alone experience allergies each year.
An allergy is caused by an immune system reaction to a foreign substance called an allergen. Allergens take on all forms. You can have a response to something you eat, touch, inject, or inhale. The impact can include sneezing, a runny nose, scratchy throat, hives, or rashes. In severe cases, it can lower blood pressure, cause asthma attacks, or even death if not treated quickly.
How hardwood floors play a part in indoor air quality
When most people think about air quality, they think about things that directly impact the air supply. If you light a candle, the fumes penetrate the air you breathe. If you spray a chemical cleaner to wipe down a table, the spray enters the air supply.
Your air supply is controlled by your HVAC system. Every time the furnace or air conditioner turns on, conditioned air flows through the ventilation system, and out into each room in your home. It can pick up anything else nearby, such as the candle scent or chemical spray.
Yet indoor air quality goes deeper than what’s freely moving around your home. It’s also what’s introduced in other ways.
Like your flooring.
Indoor air quality can be impacted by everything about your flooring. What it’s made of. The adhesives used for installation. The finishes applied once it’s in place.
What are VOCs?
You can’t talk about healthy flooring without a discussion on VOCs.
VOC stands for volatile organic compounds. According to the EPA, VOCs are compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. They are emitted as gasses from certain liquids or solids, and include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects.
In total, around 1200 VOCs have been identified. And many of them are used in the products and materials we use every day.
- Acetic acid
VOCs are a part of life. They are in common substances such as paint, cleaning products, and cigarette smoke. They are in our building materials and the furniture we use in our homes.
Awareness is prevention. It’s what allows you to make better choices as a consumer.
The most common VOCs in a home
Inside homes across the Front Range, you’ll find three of the most toxic VOCs lurking in things you use every day:
Formaldehyde – there are two types of formaldehyde: phenol and urea. Phenol is non-toxic, and is often used in cabinetry, marine-grade plywood, and high-end furniture. Urea is one of the most toxic VOCs, and is used in all kinds of building materials, including paneling, flooring, and other household furnishings. You can reduce exposure by sealing all exposed surfaces.
Benzene – it’s a common chemical found in tobacco smoke, stored fuels, paint, solvents, and emissions from your cars. Refinishing a floor can produce high amounts of benzene.
Methylene chloride – this is present in things like paint strippers, adhesives, and aerosol spray paints and finishes. The human body converts methylene chloride to carbon monoxide, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning when heavy concentrations are present.
When you know these are present, you can take appropriate action to reduce their impact. For instance, you can use aerosol spray paints outside and with a face mask firmly in place to reduce their impact.
The trouble comes when you aren’t aware of their presence, as became apparent in a 2015 report where Lumber Liquidators were caught selling Chinese-made laminate flooring that contained high levels of formaldehyde.
Hardwood flooring can improve indoor air quality
If you want to find flooring safe for your family, low in VOCs, and a healthier option for installing in your home, hardwood is a great choice.
But to find the best product for your home, you’ll have to do a little investigation.
Natural wood flooring will be one of your safest options. But you do have to look at the entire production process.
Wood does contain natural terpenes. They are safe, but they do impact highly sensitive people. The scent you get from a pine tree would be an example.
Flooring also contains a variety of chemicals from processing. Pay attention to finishes, glues, baseboards, underlayments, and other production materials made from zero or low VOCs.
You can also find manufacturers that meet guidelines through different certification programs to ensure the production process is safe. Programs include:
- Green Seal’s GS-11 certification
- Forest Stewardship Council
- California’s Air Resources Board NAF
The top hardwood flooring manufacturers will comply with these regulations and more. You can do your research before you shop, or work with one of our associates to determine the right hardwood product best to suit your needs.
Are you ready to shop for hardwood flooring?
If you want an eco-friendly, green flooring choice that will help your home be the safest place it can be, look no further than hardwood flooring. It’s the first choice for many homeowners because of its classic good looks. Improving indoor air quality is an added benefit.
You’ll love hardwood because it’s:
- A durable option
- It’s natural
- It’s easy to clean and maintain
- It’s highly effective at reducing contaminants
- It doesn’t contain VOCs
How can we help you find hardwood flooring perfect for your home?