Can you recommend carpet that won't smell like mildew after our beach house has been locked up for the winter?

Asked by Lisa Topps
San Juan Capistrano, CA

We've thought about tile instead, but this is for the upstairs and we have a noise issue.


Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Answered by Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS

Bainbridge Island, WA

A Kitchen That Works LLC

August 19, 2010

Dear Lisa,

Consider carpet tiles. They tend to be low-pile and do not require a carpet pad where mildew can thrive.

  • There are great recycled-content options from Flor by Interface; Shaw Industries; and Mohawk.
  • Carpet tiles are flexible, easy to install, and many manufacturers will actually take them back and recycle them when you grow tired of them.

Remember that drapery and upholstery can also play an equal part in the cultivation of a mildew smell in a vacation home. So choose those materials wisely -- natural fibers such as wools and cottons will be your best bet.

One of the best strategies you can use to minimize mold/mildew growth is to maintain the house at a constant, be it a low, temperature such as 55 degrees when not in use. This will minimize interior condensation, which can contribute to mold and mildew growth.

Assuming the beach house is in San Juan Capistrano, where the average annual low temperature is 51 degrees and the average annual high is 74 degrees, keeping an average interior temperature of 55 degrees should be cost-effective. Further, the millwork and furnishings in the home will thank you as various wood-based materials will experience minimal expansion and contraction cycles from temperature swings.

For more information:

Read William Janhonen's Q&A "I want to replace old carpeting with new. What are the best -- and least toxic -- conventional choices?"

Tagged In: home air quality, green carpet

Do you have a question about greening your home? GreenHomeGuide invites you to Ask A Pro. Let our network of experienced green building professionals – architects, designers, contractors, electricians, energy experts, landscapers, tile & stone specialists, and more – help you find the right solution.