Natural floors are the best alternative flooring choice for creating a healthy house environment free from indoor pollution. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in conventional flooring such as vinyls, synthetic carpeting, laminates and other synthetically produced building materials.
The production of these products as well as the incineration of them creates dioxins which are proven human carcinogens that are linked to immune and reproductive dysfunctions.
Synthetic flooring presents chemical exposure problems in the home, so many people are opting for green building materials that do not emit hazardous fumes over time or that are inert from the initial installation.
Best Flooring Choices for a Healthy House
Solid Hardwood Floor
The most popular natural choice is solid hardwood flooring and can be found unfinished or pre-finished. If you choose unfinished wood floors, be sure to decide in advance about how you will attach the flooring to the subflooring and what products you will use to finish them.
Pine is not always a good choice of wood, since it continually emits natural resins that can be irritating and toxic to some people. Any hardwoods such as oak, birch, or maple are typically better choices.
Again, remember to use low VOC or no VOC adhesives and finishes such as Polyureseal BP which is made by AFM Safecoat. There are other water based sealers and finishes that can used in place of conventional high VOC polyurethane finishes such as Vermont Natural Coatings.
Some people may prefer to use pre-finished hardwood flooring which can be a time saver as well as easy to install. However, remember the pre-finished wood floors are finished with high VOC polyurethane, although the plus to using pre-finished flooring is that fact the it has already gassed off much of the VOC fumes at the warehouse before you receive it for installation.
If you have chemical allergies or are environmentally sensitive, you can always request a sample to make a better decision. Also, don’t make the mistake of choosing laminate wood flooring, since it is really not hardwood flooring at all. Laminate flooring is compressed wood chips and glue as well as other composite materials, that are laced with various chemical adhesives.
If you want a flooring that is sound absorpent and resilient, you may want to try natural linoleum which is made from sawdust, pigments, linseed oils and is produced with a jute backing. However, some people report that they notice a distinct odor that emits from the natural materials, so be sure to check this type of flooring out for your particular needs before purchasing.
A type of flooring that is growing in popularity is natural cork that is particularly appealing to those with problems such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
It is completely natural, mold resistant, and lasts for many years. However, you should purchase this from a reputable company that offers green building materials, since much of the typical cork tiles or floor planks are manufactured with thin layers of other materials as well as adhesives.
Bamboo, Low VOC Vinyl Tile, Natural Carpet and More
Of course there are other choices that may suit some homeowners, such as bamboo, green certified vinyl tile that is low VOC, and painted concrete. Ceramic tile, stone and other inert materials are also excellent natural flooring choices. There are also some companies that offer natural carpet made from organic wool which is chemical free and contains no VOCs.
Before making any choices about what type of material you want for either a room renovation or new home construction, be sure to do some research and testing so that you choose the safest, healthiest flooring for your project.