Question

What is the safest flooring for my home? I have a seven month old daughter and plan on getting pregnant in the not too distant future.

Asked by Lindsey
Santa Clarita, CA

I am concerned with off gassing, VOC's, Formaldehyde, finishes and anything that my infant could ingest or be hurt by when crawling. I live in California and would like recommended brands and type of flooring. I am thinking of engineered hardwood floors as I would like the ability to float the flooring to avoid glue.

Answer

Elizabeth DiSalvo

Answered by Elizabeth DiSalvo

Norwalk, CT

Trillium Architects

October 19, 2013

Hi Lindsey,

I would say you are safe using either real hardwood OR a laminate.

I am a fan of the good old solid wood floor, especially for little kids. They are soft and warm and natural and smooth for crawling or rolling. They clean up very easily and won’t have any allergens.

That said, yes, adhesives are a concern as are floor sealants. Luckily there are low or no voc options for both. 

Adhesives

For adhesives have your installer use one that meets Green Spec standards.

Green Spec lists only adhesives that meet SCAQMD 1168 VOC content limits and also California Section 01350 or other more stringent emission protocols as verified through related certifications such as Green Label Plus or FloorScore.

Any of the following meets all of those requirements:

  • Greenlink and ChemLink Construction Adhesives  such as Chemlink FloorSecure.
  • Chapco Safe-Set products are solvent-free, zero-VOC, nonflammable, nontoxic floor covering adhesives.
  • DriTac offers several wood flooring adhesives that are Green Label Plus certified for low emissions.

Sealants

For sealants have your installer use a waterborne finish one that also meets Green Spec standards as well as meet Green Guard Indoor Air Quality requirements.

My favorite finishes that meets those requirements are the following:

  • Bona’s waterborne polyurethane sealers and finishes provide low VOC, clear s for residential floors. They offer options containing 150,180, 210 and 220 g/l volatile organic compounds (VOCs) Their product Bona Naturale will give an untreated very natural look and feel.
  • Vermont Natural Coatings. By using recycled whey protein they eliminate the need for heavy metal driers and displace both the toxic co-binders and carcinogenic solvents typically found in wood finish.

Laminate flooring

Of course if you want to use a wood laminate product and avoid adhesives and sealers altogether there are a number to choose form. Just remember that a number of these cannot be refinished and some do not really feel like wood although they do for the most part look great! Laminates have come a very long way in looks, durability and chemical free aspects.

GreenSpec lists only the laminate products that meet the following requirements:

  1. have high recycled (greater than 70%) or FSC-certified content,
  2. are certified for durability through North American Laminate Flooring Association (NAFLA);
  3. have an abrasion class (AC) rating of at least AC3;
  4. and meet CDPH Standard Method emissions standards as verified through a third-party certification such as FloorScore or Greenguard Gold.

Here are some that are listed by GreenSpec:

  • Mannington laminate flooring 
  • Mohawk offers direct pressure laminate flooring under both the Mohawk and Columbia brands
  • Torlys offers direct pressure laminate flooring under both the Torlys and Quick Step brands. 
  • Uniboard offers Luxury Laminate Flooring
  • Bona

For more information:

Read "Is linoleum a good flooring choice for our baby's nursery?" a Q&A answered by Marian Keeler. 

Tagged In: home air quality

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