Plush carpet is a warm, comfortable floor covering, but for those with allergies, asthma or other health sensitivities, carpet may not be a safe choice. Here are six options for replacing the stained, hard-to-clean, allergen-ridden carpets in your home with a healthier type of floor.
This renewable resource is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees and makes a unique material for a healthy floor choice. Cork flooring is lightweight, waterproof, resists dust and mold and provides great sound insulation. It is a warm and soft material so it can get scratched or gouged, but is resilient and, as a bonus, can help your joints since it’s so soft and flexible that standing for long times on cork floors isn’t such a strain.
Ceramic and porcelain tile
Made from natural, renewable materials, tiles are durable, easy to clean and hold up well under humid and wet conditions. (Although porcelain tiles are slightly more water resistant than ceramic.) They come in a wide variety of styles, colors and sizes to enhance almost any room in the house. Cold floor tiles are easily warmed with a radiant heat system but can be slippery when wet.
Maple, oak, walnut and cherry are common types of wood that make beautiful, durable floors. And, although technically from the grass family, bamboo planks are also a lovely, healthy floor option. Although wood floors don’t do well with moisture and humidity, they can be refinished and sealed multiple times which extends their lifespans. Beware of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present in some types of lacquered coatings.
More homeowners are discovering the benefits and attractiveness of the smooth, high-luster appearance of polished concrete. This durable, easy-to-clean floor partners well with a radiant heating system and is available in many colors and designs. Using a low VOC sealer makes it a healthy, unique floor option.
One-of-a-kind marble, slate, granite and sandstone create beautiful, durable floors. Depending on the type of stone, this can be an expensive option and some stones can be scratched or chipped. But, when sealed with a safe finish, natural stone floors are easy to clean and can be warmed with radiant heating.
Not to be confused with vinyl (which is made of toxic materials and should be avoided), linoleum is made with linseed oil and other natural components. It is anti-static and anti-dust, water-resistant and durable. Sheet, tile or plank versions and many types of colors and designs give it great versatility. It’s a low maintenance, affordable option that is pleasant on the feet.
When deciding which flooring material is best for your home and budget, check for FloorScore and GREENGUARD Gold certifications. And read the product’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) so that you can identify components and ensure you’re not bringing potentially toxic chemicals and/or VOCs into your home.