Guide to Non-Toxic Flooring 2019

Updated September 2019

There are many choices for non-toxic flooring suitable for the chemically sensitive or the health conscious individual. The best options are real hardwood, polished concrete and tile. But specific brands of natural linoleum, carpet and engineered wood are excellent choices as well. I will look at a few options that are still non-toxic but not quite as healthy, like luxury vinyl plank, laminate, cork and bamboo.


This post covers Green Non-Toxic Flooring divided into three categories, starting with the purest options:


1. The Greenest Options (Dark Green)
2. Medium Green
3. Light Green
     

If you need assistance choosing the best floor for your sensitivities, budget and area of the house, please contact me for a one-on-one consultation. 


I recommend all of the products here, some products have affiliate programs and some do not. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission though affiliate links at no extra cost to you.

1. Greenest Floors "Dark Green" (0 VOC, No Offgassing)


i. Natural Solid Hard Wood 


non toxic green healthy real wood solid floors natural finish
Naturally finished floors by @wdflooring
 @fourboardwoodworks flooring & installation
@thomashartshelby photography
Natural wood flooring is usually my number one choice. However wood contains natural terpenes which do bother some, and they can contain anti-sapstain chemicals which could explain why some people react to wood used in building and not wood in the forest.

Aromatic woods like pine have much higher natural volatile compounds than maple, for example. Wood also has a higher possibility of harbouring mould than less porous materials. To prevent mould you should make sure your wood has been kiln-dried and kept dry at the store and  onsite.

Finishes

There are plenty of green 0-VOC options for finishing wood. I used Hemp Oil on my floors, a "purest" option. AFM Poly BP is another great non-toxic finish. I go into detail on more options for wood sealers and stains in my post on sealers.

Glues

For subfloor glues, my top pick is definitely AFM Almighty Adhesive which is safe and highly tolerable. If that doesn't work for you, try Liquid Nails Subfloor Adhesive. You don't need to use subfloor glue though!

There are no VOC/HAPs wood fillers by Mohawk and ECOs for the nail holes.

Unfinished Hardwood

You can buy solid unfinished hardwood flooring from specialty flooring stores, as well as Home Depot, Lowes and Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators is usually going to have the lowest price. These big box stores have networks of installers. I tend to go with the installers that work with Lumber Liquidators, but other stores have good networks as well.

Pre-finished Hardwood

Usually finished with aluminum oxide infused polyurethane and cured under UV lights, these are typically very well tolerated once cured. I consider this to be safe product even for the chemically sensitive. Test it first. It is close to 0-VOC. This finish has two main benefits, not having to finish it in house and the finish partially blocks the wood odour. I have looked over Mirage brand as well as Mono Serra from Home Depot. Bellawood from Lumber Liquidators also uses the UV cured polyurethane with aluminum oxide - they claim low VOC.

Install

Use solid wood baseboards - they come primed and unfinished (don't use MDF).

Non-toxic underlayment types are silicone backed paper (for the most sensitive) or Rosin paper. Nail down installation with a paper underneath is less toxic than the glue down method. You may need a small amount of regular wood glue on the last piece or you may be able to face nail.


ii. Polished Concrete


If polished concrete flooring makes you think IKEA warehouse, think again, polished concrete can look beautiful and be green and healthy.

The Retroplate system, uses "liquid glass" (a modified sodium silicate) and is completely non-toxic and 0-VOC. This option is available across Canada and the US, you just have to find someone who specializes in that system.

You can do acid stains, add natural pigments, use white cement, or add white sand to Portland Cement to get many different unique and modern looks.

iii. Tiles


Types of Non-Toxic Tiles:

real stone tile, natural, safe for the chemically sensitive
Marble tile is good in theory, but most of it has a resin put on it at the factory to fill in tiny holes and fissures, and it might have a (chemical) sealant on it as well. A pure slab, or tile, that does not have a glossy finish can be sealed with a natural or low toxin sealer.

Slate is also good, you can find it unsealed like these from Home Depot. Though like marble, a resin is used to fill lines and pits. Both can be sealed with AFM Mexeseal or Meta CreamTung oil can be used on slate. Some types of slate are dense enough to not require a sealer.

Concrete tiles have beautiful designs. You may want to ask what additives are in the concrete and test these out for tolerability. I sealed mine concrete tiles with AFM Penetrating Water Stop. You can also use tung oil or Meta Cream.

Other natural stones like travertine, granite, soapstone and limestone are all great options for green healthy floors. Always check if a resin or sealer is already applied, and then check to see which natural sealers will work over the stone of your choosing. Honed stones (i.e. not glossy) are the easiest to seal with a natural pure option. Very dense stones like many granite types and some slate do not require a sealer at all (bonus!)

Budding green companies now make walnut oil and hemp oil that can be used on natural stone and concrete. Though I have not seen hemp oil used in this application, it is a drying oil, so this theory does make sense. Walnut is a semi drying oil so I would have some reservations in putting it over a large area. The post on sealers explains this further.

Ceramic tiles have a high incidence of lead in the glaze Ask for lead test results from the company and do a simple 3M Lead Swab (those are useful on a number of household items and they are affordable). But to pick up lower levels of lead, you need to hire someone who has an XRF tool.

All ceramic tiles should be tested for lead. A client just tested American made tiles that stated they were lead-free, but when tested they showed high levels of lead. So it might be wise to test any glazed tile regardless of origin. And be extra careful when removing them as the lead dust is particularly harmful. Tile over existing lead tiles if possible, instead of removing.

Porcelain tiles are inert and safe. I have not seen evidence that porcelain tile contains lead. A benefit of both porcelain and ceramic tiles is you won't have to seal them.

Wood look tiles claim to be 0-VOC even though there is a printed image on them. The glaze seems to block this. I have tested them and I do not detect anything that is different from regular tiles. Wood look tiles are usually porcelain but can be ceramic.

Glass tiles are inert and healthy, most types are too slippery to use on the floor. Some have used some types on the floor, but I would recommend these only for walls and backsplashes.

A Note on Air Cleaning Flooring

Crossville Tiles have a coating option called Hydrotect. This uses the PCO process to clean the air. A layer of non-toxic titanium dioxide is used to coat the tiles. This reacts with UV light, and just like the PCO air purifiers I reviewed, creates a reaction that can break down some bacteria, moulds, VOCs and viruses. I don't know how impactful this tile coating will be to the overall air quality in a room. The company does have some reports that show a reduction in bacteria, which may be worthwhile for some folks.

If you read my article on PCO air filters you will remember that some people have a bad reaction to this process. It's possible that in a high VOC area it creates formaldehyde, or in a clean environment it can create NOx. I would try out a PCO air purifier before installing this tile, to make sure it works well for you.

This air cleaning technology is also used on wood floors.

2. Medium Green (0 to Low-VOC)


i. Natural linoleum 


natural linoleum, organic safe healthy flooring chemical freeMarmoleum is made from linseed, binders, wood flour, limestone and dry pigments which are mixed and then calendared onto a natural jute backing. It's got a UV cured sealer on top, and this is the glue used to install it. I found that after one month the odour all but disappeared from the product - though many people say the odour never disappears 100%. I am using this in my trailer. I was surprised and impressed since I don't normally do well with linseed.

The roll down flooring that I recommend (the sheet) is glue down. The tiles (MCT) are also glue down, they have a plastic backing (not PVC) it's slightly more rigid and would generally work better in a trailer. The "click" is the same sheet (roll down material) mounted onto a substrate of HDF and cork. It takes longer to offgas, but it has the advantage of no glue.

This is one of my top flooring choices, I recommend it often and it looks cool as well. I like many of the colours and the concrete look.

ii. 0 VOC Engineered Wood 


safe non toxic 0 VOC and low VOC, low offgassing engineered flooringWhile many engineered woods have significant offgassing (see section below), Kahrs brand has zero added formaldehyde and claims 0 added VOCs. I tested it and found it to be quite good. Here is my more detailed review of my testing of this floor. Here are their test results with Total VOC 50 ug/m3, it's still not clear to me how three of those five chemicals are not added to the glues or finish, however that is still an extremely low level and two of the VOCs are terpenes naturally occurring from wood. Despite all this, most folks do really well with Kahrs, and it is usually the first option in the engineered category I look at with clients unless they know this won't work for them.

The next option I would look at is Cali Bamboo Geowood. I really like their limestone substrate, it is highly tolerable and much healthier and than the standard substrate in most brands (normally substrate is a wood and glue mixture - the main the reason why this category has tended to be higher in offgassing). This one does claim formaldehyde-free and was tested by Green Design Center.

Lauzon engineered flooring that is made in Canada also claims 0-VOC and 0 formaldehyde, but like Kahrs, when digging into their fact sheets on specific flooring, this did not seem to be the case on each type. Check out Anderson and Whickham brands which have also made claims of 0-VOC.

Use floating where possible, not glue down. The Kahrs underlayment is excellent.

iii. Hard Vinyl


is vinyl flooring low in offgassing and safe for the chemically sensitiveLuxury vinyl plank (LVP) is much more tolerable than people generally think. I know, most of us think vinyl is one of the worst options! This should be one of your first considerations for an RV, and can be considered alongside other engineered floors if you are in the mild to moderately sensitive category. I tested Armstrong and Cali Bamboo brands - both surprised me in how low the offgassing was. I prefer the Cali Bamboo with the limestone backing, which is a backing I find to be excellent in terms of health and safety (much preferred over cork backing).

Cali discloses their testing and the VOC levels are extremely low. Here are their phthalate testing results (they are not phthalate-free). Use a floating floor instead of glue down when possible. You don't always have to go with the branded underlayment for all floors, but the Cali underlayment is very good.

iv. Carpet


For natural, non-toxic carpet or natural fibers and synthetics can be good. No flame retardants, no mothproofing, no stain repellent, natural padding and either no adhesive or a non-toxic adhesive. The most sensitive will want undyed natural carpet. Not all do well with the natural smell of wool though, and you might be pleasantly surprised with some of the non-toxic synthetic options below.

I have reservations about natural latex which are outlined in this post on mattresses, and I'm not sure if the same precautions need to be taken with carpet. I personally have a slight preference for synthetic backing.

Safe Natural Fiber Carpets

The best non-toxic chemical-free wool carpets are:

natural non toxic wool carpet no offgassing no flame retardants
Earth Weave from Green Design Center
1. Earth Weave - wool, no mothproofing, no other treatments, does contain latex. I always prefer undyed wool for the very sensitive.
2. Nature's Carpet  - wool - contains natural latex adhesive. The dark green line does not have moth proofing and uses undyed wool. The medium green line does not contain natural latex, which for me is a big plus, but it does contain mothproofing.
3. Natural Home Products - wool, contains natural latex, but checks all other boxes.

Hibernia wool. I have sniffed Hibernia and it does have a wooly smell (as you would expect), but not a chemical smell. The company has since changed ownership (2018). They do use moth proofing (typically permethrin is used on wool carpets).

Seagrass - I really like seagrass carpet because of how it feels underfoot. The DMI brand makes one I like that is not dyed or treated with insecticides or other chemicals. It does contain natural latex.

Non-Toxic Synthetic Carpet

Top two pics for non-toxic synthetic residential carpet are:

Home Fresh - My top pick for synthetics carpet (polyester), this carpet contains charcoal which absorbs some VOCs (up to a point) and was extremely low in odour and offgassing. The carpet does have Scotch Guard coating on it so I do not know how they can claim 0 VOC exactly. The backing is a built in felt backing, which seemed good to me.

I got a sample that was a few months old, but it has stayed bagged up, and I found it to be very good, extremely low in offgassing. I did not pick up classic carpet offgassing at all. Though it is not 100% odourless, it is close, and did not seem like an offensive odour to me. If you don't have an extreme sense of smell you may very well find this odourless. I was actually quite surprised as I have sniffed many carpets. This is my top pick for a green healthy synthetic carpet. Available in the US (not Canada). For $350 off, email me for a discount link or try this link.

(Note: I've been recommending them as my top choice for 2 years before they had this referral program and despite the company refusing to send me a sample directly or answer my questions. I just actually think this is an impressive carpet).

Flor 0 Fedora a low-VOC which is made from recycled plastic, it was less of that telltale carpet chemical smell. It offgassed to "odourless" way faster than their standard type. You will need to test their "dots" that attach these to the floor as well. This Fedora line does not hold up well with pets and does not look super durable, though some might prefer this carpet because of how fast it offgasses.

If you have conventional carpet in your house that is still offgassing, seal in the VOCs with Carpet Seal.

Commercial Grade

Commercial grade carpet is a lot harder to find in low-VOC. I have reviewed and sniffed a few of the ones that claim the lowest VOC levels.

Flor: Most of their carpets are commercial grade. They claim they have the lowest VOC levels in the industry as of 2017, though when probed for information on their VOC levels or any evidence to substantiate that claim, they did not have any. They have Green Label Plus which you can find almost anywhere now and is not a low level of VOC. However, when testing their carpet it did not have that tell-tale new carpet smell. The initial offgassing was as strong as other regular brands but it seemed less offensive (I know everyone is different here). But, what did impress me was that the sample offgassed way faster than other brands that have the tell-tale new carpet smell. A few weeks outside and it is fairly tolerable for a conventional carpet.

The other good option for commercial grade is wool. Though commercial companies are more reluctant to use wool because it is more expensive. The Godfrey Hirst wool commercial carpets  show test results of very low VOC levels. Though they do have that classic carpet smell and it does contain moth proofing (permethrin). Woolshire wool is also rated for commercial, I found it much more tolerable than Godfrey - it smells wooly but not like chemicals. It does have moth proofing in it. It smells similar to Hibernia brand. If I was picking a commercial brand I would consider Woolshire first and then Flor.

Some of Earth Weave's lines can be used in light commercial applications and those do not contain mothproofing or other chemical treatments. In a light commercial setting this is the greenest way to go.

Because carpet does collect dust, mould spores, pesticides, flame retardants and all types of contaminants and allergens that ride on dust, a HEPA vacuum like the Nilfisk is essential for cleaning.

Carpets with a conventional synthetic backing (but not Flor), can be glued down with AFM 3 in 1.

I have a separate post devoted to non-toxic area rugs.


v. Terrazzo


Terrazzo is a little complex as there are different materials, resins and sealers involved. But there are systems that are 0-VOC and low-VOC.

vi. Laminate



low VOC, extremely low formaldehyde laminate floor
Most laminates now are low-VOC. Look for brands that have certifications, there are many, but GreenGuard Gold is the best certification for laminate.

Most brands can easily meet the other certification levels, so it does not help you to distinguish between them. I have not seen one that is formaldehyde-free (or more accurately said, no added formaldehyde) but they are very close.

Make sure they are not made with MDF which is usually high in formaldehyde. Most now are made with an HDF backing.

I would only go with GreenGuard Gold Certification as this is the strictest levels of formaldehyde 0.0073 ppm, far below any of the other certification levels. This is background levels, there is as much formaldehyde in the outdoor air. This is not the laminate from years ago!

Swiss KronoHome Decorators Collection and Traffic Master meet GreenGuard Gold and I found them very low in offgassing. Since formaldehyde is one of the biggest risks with laminate flooring, this is the most important certification. A number of other brands have this certification as well. Here is my video review of brands you can buy at Home Depot, I was impressed.

Brands sold at green supply stores like Eurostyle (by the large worldwide company Krono Flooring) were not able to say their actual formaldehyde or VOC levels, and only cited their certifications, and so they did not provide any information to distinguish themselves from the competition.

This type of flooring can be floating - it doesn't require adhesive which is a bonus.

3. Light Green (Low-VOC)



i. Engineered Woods


engineered flooring low in VOCsJunkers, Wood Flooring International all meet EU emission standards. WD brand is one recommended by sensitive folks. The substrates can still be problematic. Many use phenol formaldehyde which offgasses relatively quickly. This may work for some but they are not in the same category as the formaldehyde-free versions above.







ii. Cork

best cork brands that are low in offgassing healthy and safe
Cork like wood, has a natural odour (terpenes). A resin is used to bind all the small pieces of cork together into flat pieces (I have seen polyurethane binders which I find to have strong offgassing that persists). In theory, you can make tiles or rolls without resin (they heat press them for some insulation) but this is not how cork flooring is made.

An adhesive is also required either to glue it down (and there are 0 VOC glues for this), or, in the floating floors it is usually glued to a fiberboard or substrate which tends to be problematic in terms of chemical offgassing. It is finished with urethanes/acrylic which may be tolerable once cured.

I have tested Cali Bamboo cork which I found to be the best one. US Floors was the second best. NOVA and Cancork smelled very strong to me. Here is my Facebook post about the testing of these brands. These floors claim to be green but they offgassing is higher than I would go for and that's why they are in the light green category.


iii. Bamboo

Requires resin or adhesives to hold the top layer pieces together, a substrate and a finish. However, there are many that are GreenGuard certified for low emissions. This wood is known to be problematic in that it can shrink, expand and do poorly with water/moisture/spills. Cali Bamboo GeoCore is made on a limestone based core which I found tolerable. I think this is one of the best brands out there for bamboo, otherwise bamboo is not usually a top choice for me.





iv. Magnetic Ceramic Tiles


alternative to tiles with grout or glue
I tested Kablan's magnetic ceramic tiles and I found they did have a moderately strong smell (the magnetic backing components), though you may not be able to smell them once the floors is installed, as they are underneath. My video review of them here.








Cost Comparison of Green Flooring 2019 (US)


Wood $8-10/sq ft including installation

Polished concrete is $6-12 sq ft for residential

Stain and sealed concrete - materials $1/sq ft (unless you are pouring the concrete or have lots of prep)

Tiles are usually $8-10/sq ft but depends on the tiles (tiles come in a wide range of costs) and prep of subfloor/installation difficulty

Kahrs Engineered - Materials $5-12/sq ft, labour $3-10/sq ft
Home Depot Brands engineered start at $3/ sq ft for materials

Marmoluem - Materials $4.50-5/sq ft, labour $1-4/sq ft

LVP - Cali bamboo - under $3.30-5/sq ft, labour about $3-4/ sq ft for click
          Armstrong starts at $1/ sq ft for materials
          Home Depot brands $1-3/sq ft

Laminate - Home Decorators Collection $1.30-2/sqft
                  Trafic Master $0.50-2/sq ft

Cork $8-10/sq ft including installation





Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 5 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.


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56 comments:

Smith Joe said...

Simply we know that some using this techniques is good. But I think this is not possible without using different types of flooring. So I really appreciated for the posting. Kindly provide these types of article in future.

Chicagoland Pro Hardwood Flooring said...

Gorgeous Green Home! Absolutely love the natural look and feel. Very impressed with your knowledge and expertise.

Laura said...

Thank you for the info. I found this interesting document which talks more about the Retroplate process from a chemical standpoint and compares it to 2 other concrete flooring types.
http://www.absolutepolishing.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/A-brief-overview-of-Concrete-and-Chemical-Hardeners.pdf

Chase Edward said...

Wonderful blog, I like this type of chemical free natural homes, And i need to make such a home with special flooring works and all other works.

ady said...

Hello is laminate flooring from home depot toxic the one you just lay like a puzzle? Thanks in advance!

Corinne said...

I don't know their brands. Look for low VOC brands such as ones with GreenGaurd certification.

WilliamKing said...

nice

Unknown said...

Get an engineered hardwood floor rather than laminate. Less glue in the assembly because engineered hardwood uses a plywood backer and laminate uses a pressboard backer. Pick a product that has low or no added formaldhyde. Eddie Bauer Floors and some other good US manufactures offer this kind of product with no added formaldehyde and a UV cured acrylic matte finish which does not contain solvents and so does not emit VOCs.

Unknown said...

Nice article. I'm thinking about going with cork flooring, but I can't seem to find a natural one (not finished at all) and try to finish it myself with natural options. The only brand that sells natural cork is Thermacork and that is only for insulation.

Phyllis MacLuan said...

So I finally had my husband on board to install the click together bamboo flooring from our local green store. It's pretty affordable for us at $4.50/sq ft but now I'm thinking that it might be more toxic then they are leading me to believe. I then started looking at kiln dried hardwood available here in Oregon but I can' imagine him installing that. What do you recommend? we have about 1200 sq ft. Right now, we have wool carpeting but I am allergic to wool so I can never be barefooted and I'm sure it's affecting me in other ways. Thanks for any suggestions.

Ala Uddin said...

Excellent post.

Corinne said...

There isn't a bamboo I would use. It depends on your level of sensitivity.

PJames said...

Due to your sensitivities or concerns over emissions?

Corinne said...

Yes. Bamboo is problematic for other reasons but I was thinking offgassing.

Linda Kingston said...

I am looking for a low toxicity option for my living room, dining room, and hallway. I have a dog, so need something that will be easy to clean and not likely to stain when he throws up, etc. I have old carpet now that I want to get rid of. I need something affordable, preferable $2.5 to $4 per square foot. What do you suggest? I like the fake wood look of some of the laminates and luxury vinyl, but I am concerned about toxicity. Not sure if engineered wood is affordable or practical with a dog. I don't have allergies or sensitivities. I am worried about long-term risks of exposure to chemicals.

Danielle Soler said...

How about vocs in porcelain tiles that look like hardwood? A printer digitally scans a photo onto the tile

Faith Oh! said...

Well done!

Unknown said...

Hi Corinne - your site is incredible! Just bought my first home, 130 years old and needs some work. Pretty overwhelming to try and make good choices, thanks for making it a lot easier! Saw your carpet recommendations above... We are not the biggest fans of wall to wall carpeting. Do you have any recommendations on safe rug providers?

Thanks!

C & B said...

I am going to have a van built out for me. The flooring will need to have 2" furring strips glued to the floor of the cargo area. Since the cargo van is new, the floor of the cargo area has a shiny auto paint on it. What adhesive would you recommend? Will the AFM Safecoat Almighty Adhesive be strong enough to keep the furring strips attached to the floor of the van/paint and then subsequenty hold in place a 3/4" NAF PLYWOOD FLOORING on top of the furring strips? The plywood will be screwed into the furring strips.

Corinne said...

Hi, this is complex and I don't have all the info that I need from that message. I would consult with an architect here this sounds like there's a very high chance of it going moldy if I'm understanding correctly.

Unknown said...

Any ideas for a good moisture barrier?

Unknown said...

I am about to get untreated pure wool carpet in my bedroom, just been measured, but cannot wear wool clothing against my skin. I thought briefly walking on wool carpet should not be a problem but your comment worries me. Is this much of a problem?

Unknown said...

I am chemically sensitive but have to replace nasty old carpet in my mobile home. About to put pure wool carpet in the two bedrooms but worried if it can affect those who cannot wear wool clothing. I saw a comment above about this and am concerned as will be the bedroom. Do people react to pure, untreated wool carpet sometimes? Will the air in the bedroom be clear?

Unknown said...

What did you end up doing? I am in the same situation, aging dog, need easy flooring, but chemically sensitive so limited in what can get. Did you solve the flooring dilemma?

Corinne said...

Yes people do react to wool.

Corinne said...

Will add to sheathing/subfloor post soon

charlene336 said...

I'm assuming radiant heating under laminate flooring is highly toxic? What is the best alternative for radiant floor heating?

Unknown said...

I did! Put ig in den to test, had a bad time, so cancelled my master bedroom! Thanks.

Unknown said...

I am very sensitive (MCS) and I had great luck with Hook and Loom for chemical free Cotton & Wool rugs at a reasonable price. Great customer service as well. Best Wishes. https://hookandloom.com/browse/eco-cotton-rugs/

Unknown said...

How do you test porcelain tile for lead and radioactivity? Thanks!

Corinne said...

You need to hire someone that has the tools for this. Someone will come out and do the testing. First you should ask the company if they have a certificate for lead testing.

Corinne said...

Heating anyting that off gases from underneath is going to increase the off-gassing. I'm not sure what you mean by the alternative to in floor heating. There are many other types of heating systems and less toxic floor systems that would go better with in-floor heating.

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake said...

How did your test of Armstrong's Luxury planks turn out?

Corinne said...

Decent. Will work for some people.

Unknown said...

Which Armstrong vinyl plank did you test. Do you know of any other LVT brands that are good?

Unknown said...

Can you also explain how LVT can be a good lower toxic option. Even the newer phthalate free brands are still made with plastic aren’t they? I’m getting mixed opinions online. And manufacturers are vague. Thank you

Corinne said...

I tested a few different types of the Armstrong brand that do not require glue. Good better and best I believe they are called. I also tested Cali bamboo. Cali bamboo discloses their V O C levels which are very low.

Unknown said...

You are correct about the pre-finished floors with UV cured finishes and embedded aluminum oxide anti-scratch components. They are no-VOC and much tougher than the old solvent based finishes. Also look for engineered flooring made with No Added Formaldehyde glues (NAF or NAUF) Some manufacturers include Eddie Bauer HOME, Luzon, and Revel Woods. Use a floating install method or a nail down method. Direct glue to the subfloor introduces yet another set of chemicals into the environment. Also consider the construction of the cabinets and furniture you are using as these often include elements of particle board that contain formaldehyde based glues.

Corinne said...

No added formaldehyde and no added urea formaldehyde are quite differnt. No added urea formaldehyde means it has phenol formaldehyde. I haven't seen flooring recently that is using urea formaldehyde. It might still exist.

HeliHelistin said...

Hi there, I am doing a renovation and am looking for a suitable subfloor to install underneath tiles. I am having challenges finding something that is both well tolerated and good in insolation - construction requirements demand good insolation and for instance Ardex is not good enough. Any ideas?

Texasboutique said...

Hi! I’m better but still super sensitive. We just purchased a home and redoing most everything. I’m trying to stay as low toxic as possible being from a area that doesn’t understand or appreciate non toxic things.

I went to a local floor place yesterday and they looked at me like I had 2 heads when I asked to be pointed towards the low toxicity flooring...lol!

So, would you suggest looking at a 100% wood floor? Wouldn’t the stains on them be toxic? I looked at some beautiful hand scraped wood but they were finished. We’ve used the ceramic tile that looks like wood in the past. I’m curious what makes something like that toxic? Is it that you have to glue it down? Reason I ask is, is I’m super sensitive to smells and the tile has no smell but real wood does?

Thanks for the great article and information!

Corinne said...

Hi there, see the post on paints and sealers for finishing wood floors. Post on mortar and grout for non toxic tile installation.

Corinne said...

Ardex makes a self leveling cement to level out a concrete floor. I'm not totally sure what all the factors here and what you're trying to accomplish.

Unknown said...

What is the best organization for "green" floor certification?

Corinne said...

Hi there, I don't currently find any of the certifications good enough for sensitive folks, they could work for healthy folks. I explain them here: https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2016/06/what-green-certifications-mean-for.html

Unknown said...

Is aluminum oxide safe on hardwood flooring?

Corinne said...

Yes when it's in solid form, no if it wears off an becomes dust and you ingest or inhale it...

Unknown said...

You are correct that many engineered floors with a plywood backer use a resorcinol glue for the plys which contains formaldehyde. They may meet CARB2 requirements but they still have added formaldehyde in their glues. The Eddie Bauer Adventure Collection is one of the few true "NAF" No Added Formaldehyde engineered floors with a very tough No-VOC finish. You can find it at Eddie Bauer Floors or at Revel Woods. Use the floating install method over a benign pad like Quite Walk. Edge glue the floor with Roberts 1406 engineered flooring glue. This is the no VOC no Formaldehyde solution

Unknown said...

Hi! We are looking to replace all of our lower level flooring while redoing the kitchen. If I'm reading this article correctly, wood-like tiles are a good option but text to see if they have lead in them or ask for lead testing? Is that correct? Anything else we need to consider? I'm new to your site - thanks so much!

mo.mai said...

I have some Shaw laminate flooring that has been stored in boxes for fifteen years. Does it continue to off gas, or does it stabilize acceptably after a time?

Corinne Segura said...

Older floors were much worse, if it was made with urea formaldehyde it can offgas for a long time.

Unknown said...

Hi Corinne, Do you have experience with Home Depot's phthalate-free, formaldehyde-free LVP? I'm considering Santa Fe Maple Luxury Vinyl Flooring from the Home Decorators Collection. I really want to just refinish the original hardwood but we've run into so many issues and unexpected runaway costs, it seems covering the whole floor with LVP is probably the lesser of many evils.

Corinne Segura said...

I like that it's phthalate free, but is is vinyl through and through. I'm going to get a sample of that one.

Chemical-free Trailer said...

Hi Corinne. Do you know of any floor zero-VOC, non-outgassing floor leveling compounds? The craftsman making our floor (walnut & maple planks) needs to fill in spots in the plywood subfloor that are not level, as it will be a floating floor. He recommended Simple Prep floor patch (see link below), but it failed the jar sniff test with my extremely chemically sensitive wife. The challenge is the floor is in a travel trailer, not a home, so the compound can not cure to a brittle state. It must retain some level of flexibility when cured, since there will be vibration during travel. SImple Prep meets that requirement. Any recommendations you might have would be appreciated.

https://www.custombuildingproducts.com/products/surface-preparation/pre-mixed/simpleprep-pre-mixed-floor-patch.aspx

Corinne Segura said...

Hi there yes there are many other ways to level out subfloor if it's wood. Concrete is trickier. It really depends on the state of the subfloor and what you are fixing. A floating floor is quite forgiving.

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