There are many choices for non-toxic flooring suitable for the chemically sensitive or the health-conscious homeowner.
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
I recommend all of the products here, some products have affiliate programs and some do not. Upon purchase, I earn a small commission through affiliate links at no extra cost to you.
1. Greenest Floors “Dark Green” (Zero-VOC, No Offgassing)
i. Natural Solid Hardwood
Natural wood flooring is usually my number one choice. It’s one of the purest and safest options. A few caveats for those extremely sensitive:
Wood contains natural terpenes that are safe (and even beneficial) for healthy folks, but do bother some extremely sensitive people. Aromatic woods like pine have higher natural volatile compounds than maple, as an example.
Flooring can contain anti-sapstain chemicals, which could explain why a few people react to wood used in building and not wood in the forest. Not all of these treatments are harmful.
Wood also has a higher possibility of harboring mold than less porous materials. To prevent mold you should make sure your wood has been kiln-dried and kept dry at the store and onsite. In normal conditions, this is not an issue.
There are many green zero-VOC options for finishing wood. I used Hemp Oil on my floors, a purest option. (I would use a more durable natural oil like Tung if I did it again!)
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.
Wood Floor Glues
For subfloor glues, my top pick is definitely AFM Almighty Adhesive which is safe and highly tolerable. My post on Glues has more info.
There are no VOC/HAPs wood fillers by Mohawk Fil-O-Wood and ECOS for the nail holes. I find the standard Minwax wood putty to be too potent. The Dynamic putty pencil is very benign.
You can buy solid unfinished hardwood flooring from specialty flooring stores, as well as Home Depot, Lowes and LL Flooring. LL Flooring is usually going to have the lowest price.
These big-box stores have networks of installers.
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 a safe product even for the chemically sensitive. Test it first. It is zero-VOC.
This finish has two main benefits, not having to finish it in house and the finish partially blocks the wood odor.
Almost all brands of prefinished hardwood are of the same composition. It would likely send you in circles if I mention brands – you want to start with what’s available in your area.
You will find that almost every brand has a UV-cured water-based polyurethane finish (with aluminum oxide).
Installation of Hardwood
Use solid wood baseboards – they come in both primed and unfinished (don’t use MDF or PVC).
My post on non-toxic underlayments includes silicone backed paper (for the most sensitive) or Rosin paper.
Nail-down installation is less toxic than glue-down. You may need a small amount of glue on some pieces, or you may be able to face nail.
Best practice for wide planks is to glue and nail. Consider the width of the planks at the planning stage.
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 zero-VOC. This option is available across Canada and the US.
Most polished concrete systems use sodium silicate or potassium silicate which are very safe and benign. Polished concrete is vapor breathable which makes it one of the best flooring types, alongside tile and natural linoleum, over a concrete slab.
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.
Other concrete sealers
Concrete can also be sealed with topical acrylic or polyurethane sealers, penetrating sealers, or epoxies.
Epoxy is a two-part sealer, where each part, in theory, comes to a complete chemical reaction with the other. In reality, it’s not that neat. It’s likely to offgas even if it claims zero-VOC.
Eventually, it should come to a complete cure. I don’t advise epoxy over a slab or basement floor, where it’s best to have it be able to dry to the inside.
For a complete review of concrete stains, sealers, and paints, see my dedicated post on this topic.
Types of Non-Toxic Tiles:
Marble tile is good in theory. 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.
The resin seems to cure and be fine for most people. Honed stones can be sealed at home (the hexagon in that link is honed marble).
A pure slab, or tile, that does not have a glossy finish can be sealed with a natural sealer (I tested them here) or low toxin sealer (I tested those here). Keep in mind that white marble is the most difficult stone to seal in a non-toxic way.
Slate is also good, you can find it unsealed. Though like with marble, a resin is used to fill lines and pits.
Light colors can be sealed with SimpleCoat and warm or darker color stones can be sealed with walnut oil. Some types of slate and granite 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 them out for tolerability. I sealed my concrete tiles with AFM Penetrating Water Stop. You can also use the sealers in the concrete post.
Other natural stones like limestone, travertine, and soapstone are 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).
Tile Sealers: Green companies now make walnut oil and hemp oil that can be used on natural stone and concrete. I have tested the natural oils on slate, light-colored marble and dark-colored marble. Walnut oil is the preferred oil for most indoor stones, as hemp can turn the color, and tung is too thick.
Ceramic/Porcelain 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. Daltile makes claims of no lead (other than in red glaze).
Lead in Tiles: All ceramic/porcelain 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 would 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.
I did XRF testing of lead in 64 tiles in 2021!
You can see the results of how each tile tested.
12.5% of tiles tested for lead in a range that I would personally be very cautious with (in terms of the clean-up of the dust).
Many tiles tested well!
This can help guide your purchases if you are looking for safer tiles.
(There is also one stand-out brand and a pattern among the ones that tested high).
Grab it here on Etsy!
Once you have ruled out lead, ceramic and porcelain tiles are inert and safe. Plus, you don’t have to seal them. My post on grout and thinset looks closely at the other materials used in the installation.
Wood-look porcelain tiles are zero-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.
Glass tiles are inert, but most types are too slippery to use on the floor. They can be used on a backsplash.
Air Cleaning Tiles
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, molds, 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.
This technology is also used on wood floors.
2. Medium Green (Zero to Low-VOC)
i. Natural Linoleum
Marmoleum, the only natural linoleum currently available in North America, is made from linseed oil, binders, wood flour, limestone, and dry pigments. They are mixed and then calendared onto a backing. It’s got a UV-cured sealer on top.
The glue used to install it claims zero-VOC and does contain mildewcides (typically isothiazolinones). Acrylic-based flooring glues also typically contain a plasticizer (source).
I found that after one month the linseed odor all but disappeared from the Marmoleum product – though many people say the odor never disappears 100%. I am using this in my trailer. I was surprised and impressed since I don’t normally do well with linseed.
Three Types of Marmoleum
- The roll down flooring that is the most typical kind (the sheet) has a jute backing and is glue down.
- The tiles (MCT) are also glue down, they have a polyester backing (not jute, and not fiberglass as some websites say) and are slightly more rigid.
- The “click” is the same sheet (roll down material) mounted onto a substrate of High Density Fiberboard (HDF) and cork. The HDF is formaldehyde-free. Though the binder is not disclosed. The click together has the advantage of not needing glue.
You can use the sheets in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms if it’s properly installed.
ii. Engineered Wood
Most brands of engineered wood floors now are zero-VOC or close to it, even if they are not marketed that way. They do have a little bit of glue in the substrate so the extremely sensitive would need to test it.
What to Look for
- A plywood or solid slat core
- A stain/varnish that is zero-VOC
Plywood is made with formaldehyde but by the time this product gets to you, it technically is considered cured. They can usually claim that this is no longer offgassing formaldehyde. It’s only the extremely sensitive who should make sure this is good enough for you by testing it.
There are a few brands that use an HDF fibreboard base (which offgasses a lot more!) so check to see what the substrate is. Some brands have solid slats as the base, which is explained in my post on engineered wood flooring.
(The hybrid type described below has a PVC base.)
Most finishes on engineered wood have no offgassing or close to it. I look for water-based UV cured polyurethane (or polyacyrlic). This usually has aluminum oxide in it and it very close to zero-VOC.
There are also zero-VOC or close to zero-VOC oil-based finishes which are often UV cured. The UV curing speeds up the offgassing so that it is much faster than it would be if you applied it yourself. The chemically sensitive should test this and test the maintenance oils needed.
Sometimes the stain has a bit of a VOC odor, but you will only know by getting samples yourself since all brands could qualify for the strictest certifications.
Kahrs shares their test results.
There are many brands that are good, these are just a few examples. The engineered wood flooring post has more options.
- Tesoro Coastal Lowlands – White Oak, Hickory, Maple, Walnut (plywood base)
- Cali Bamboo Meritage – Oak (plywood base)
- Shaw Camden Hills – Hickory (plywood base)
- Shaw Castlewood – Hickory (plywood base)
- Shaw Albright – Oak (plywood base)
- Tesoro Great Southern Woods (solid slat base)
- Tesoro Great Northern Woods (solid slat base)
A category of engineered wood that is actually a vinyl/wood hybrid (like this flooring) has real wood on the top layer and vinyl-limestone composite as the base layer.
In most situations, engineered wood with a plywood base is preferable. But there are reasons to use the hybrid.
This eliminates that pine/spruce/fir odor in engineered wood and also doesn’t have a discernible PVC odor offgassing to most people. It’s also waterproof. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.
It’s one of my top picks for a trailer or RV. (More trailer flooring options here).
1. Cali Bamboo Geowood is one I really liked. It is very tolerable, and for those sensitive to wood, this limestone/PVC substrate (SPC) may be preferable to a plywood base. Plywood will have that odor of pine/spruce/fir and is made with some formaldehyde.
It is formaldehyde-free, confirmed by Green Design Center. It’s also phthalate-free.
2. Another similar wood/vinyl hybrid is Opti-Wood. You can find this at Home Depot (in Canada and the US). It’s well priced, and I did not pick up offgassing in the top layer in the samples I bought. The wood layer eliminates the higher offgassing top layer of vinyl in LVP and it should prevent a lot of the leaching of plasticizers.
3. Raintree is a brand that has a high-quality wood top layer, with some higher-end looks. I have some samples, and like the other brands, the wood layer is very thin. From a distance, it’s hard to tell if these are real wood but underfoot, you can tell it definitely feels like real wood not plastic.
The Kahrs underlayment is good. My post on underlayment goes into more detail on when to use each type.
iii. Healthy Carpet
For safe, non-toxic carpet, both natural fibers and synthetics can be healthy.
If you are interested in carpet, I have a whole post dedicated to this topic that goes into detail on brands, chemical treatments, and how the installation affects toxicity.
(I have a separate post devoted to non-toxic area rugs).
Non-Toxic Natural Fiber Carpet
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 mothproofing 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. 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
1. Home Fresh – One of my top picks for synthetic carpet (PET polyester) with a felt backing. It was extremely low in odor and offgassing. It does contain Scotchguard. This refer a friend program should get you $350 off.
See the carpet post for more details.
2. Air.o by Mohawk – My other top pick for synthetic, this carpet is very similar to Homefresh. The carpet fibers are made from 100% PET (polyester). They claim it has no odor and is zero-VOC. It does have a Scotchguard treatment.
It has a similar felt padding which is far superior health-wise to typical polyurethane or latex rubber.
3. FLOR – makes carpet tiles which can be arranged as rugs or wall-to-wall carpeting.
Their regular nylon lines have a different type of offgassing odor than typical carpet, not necessarily less strong, but it did offgas faster.
The Fedora line is made from recycled plastic (PET) and is very low VOC, it quickly approached odorless, in my opinion.
Commercial Grade Carpets
Low-VOC commercial carpet is harder to find than residential. I have reviewed and sniffed a few of the ones that claim to have the lowest VOC levels.
There are wool and synthetic commercial options reviewed in my dedicated carpet post.
Can Carpet ever be a Healthy Flooring?
Because carpet does collect dust, mold 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.
Terrazzo is a little complex as there are different materials, resins and sealers involved. But there are systems that are zero-VOC and low-VOC.
The concrete post looks at this a little more.
v. Non-PVC Polypropylene Flooring
The vast majority of rigid core click-together plastic flooring is luxury vinyl plank (LVP) which is PVC based. (More on LVP in the last section of this article).
Sono Eclipse is a PVC-free rigid core flooring made in Germany. It is made without phthalates or other plasticizers. That is huge, as plasticizers are the biggest chemical of concern in LVP floors.
They also claim it’s made without chlorine or other additives. The core is made of polypropylene (PP) and mineral powder. Like LVP, it is waterproof. I’ve seen a sample and it looks like feels almost exactly like LVP.
Another company Hallmark Floors, makes a rigid glue-down plank made of polypropylene. I could not pick up any offgassing and like other PP floors it does not have any added plasticizer or chlorine and it does not contain recycled content.
vi. Zero-VOC Resilient Flooring
Most sheet flooring is vinyl sheet which I find far too high in offgassing.
Marmoleum mentioned above is another type of resilient flooring.
Recently though, there are a few other healthy additions to this category.
UPO by Kahrs makes three really great options. Xpression and Zero Tile are made of safer plastics – TPE and polyolefin (which in this case almost certainly means polyethylene and/or polypropylene). No plasticizers and no PVC.
Quartz tile, their stiffer flooring has a base of the mineral quartz and PVC, with no phthalates and no DHEP. It’s virtually odorless, even lower odor than LVP. Nothing like the usual vinyl rolls.
Another new healthy resilient flooring is Shaw Contract’s commercial bio-based polyurethane. It’s made of 90% natural oils (but not linseed) and minerals. It barely has an odor or any offgassing. The backing contains PE and fiberglass and gives off only a very slight odor.
A similar bio-based polyurethane product is Wineo’s Purline Organic Floor which I have been really impressed with. It’s very similar to Shaw Contract with almost no offgassing. (They make a click-together version as well as sheet flooring).
You would have to check out the glues as well for each of the floors you are considering.
3. Light Green (Low-VOC)
i. Laminate Flooring
Most (or probably all) laminate floors in North America are now 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 those do not help to distinguish between brands.
Formaldehyde-Free Laminate Floors
All of the brands I have seen, but one, use a formaldehyde-based adhesive in the HDF (high-density fiberboard) core. Laminate is made of HDF and a printed image on top with a melamine coating.
RevWood is the only one I have seen without formaldehyde, though they do not disclose the glue (I would guess it is MDI).
I would go with GreenGuard Gold Certification if you can, as this is the strictest level of formaldehyde allowed (0.0073 ppm), far below any of the other certification levels. I list Greenguard Gold brands here.
This is not the laminate from years ago, but it does have obvious offgassing that is higher than most other options here. I certainly have found that it does raise the interior levels of formaldehyde.
I dig deeper into what it is made of in the post on laminate.
My Top Brands
The following are GreenGuard Gold Certified:
(More options in the post dedicated to non-toxic laminate).
Some lines are “waterproof” – they have an extra component of wax on the tongue and groove parts or polystyrene added to the core. I did not find these to be higher in offgassing.
This type of flooring is usually “floating” – it doesn’t require adhesive during installation, which is a bonus.
My post on underlayment goes through the choices there.
Cork, like wood, has naturally occurring odorants. But with cork flooring, a resin (glue) is used to press and bind all the small pieces of cork together into flat sheets.
I have seen polyurethane glues used (which I find to have strong offgassing that persists), polyethylene, and formaldehyde binders. Polyvinyl acetate can also be added.
In theory, you can heat press cork like they do with some insulation, but this is not how cork flooring is made. That only works with insulation.
An adhesive is also required either to glue it down (and there are zero-VOC glues for this) or, in the floating floors it is usually glued to a fiberboard (HDF) substrate, which has its own offgassing.
Though some floating floor brands are cork through and through (and that type is my top choice).
It is finished with urethanes or acrylic which are tolerable once cured and are far less of a concern than the glues used to press it together.
Brands of Cork Flooring
I tried the WISE waterproof Amorim Cork flooring and I definitely think this is the healthiest brand out of all of the ones I have seen.
I could pick up the offgassing slightly (it’s not zero-VOC in my opinion but it’s close) but it’s lower than the others and it made pretty good progress. Many sensitive folks like it.
It’s cork through and through. Polyethylene is the main binder, but it also contains some formaldehyde and BPA. The full Declare label is here. It is GreenGuard Gold.
I personally would not use this flooring in a wet room.
Cali Bamboo, US Floors, NOVA, Cancork
Most cork flooring I have tested is too high in offgassing for me to consider.
I tested Cali Bamboo cork (when they had the type with cork on the top layer) which I found to be the best before Amorium Wise came along. They claim no added urea-formaldehyde (which indicates phenol formaldehyde is probably added).
US Floors Cork was the second best – this is GreenGuard Gold certified.
NOVA Cork (38 ug/m3 formaldehyde) and Cancork (no added formaldehyde in the adhesive) smelled very strong to me, and were the strongest of the four.
Floors with some Cork
Some flooring that has a cork core and laminate on top can sometimes be referred to as cork flooring even though it has a laminate or plastic top.
Amorim Woodwise which has a PET plastic (not vinyl) engineered top layer falls into this category. I consider that topcoat very safe.
Most cork floors have an HDF (high-density fibreboard) base with cork on top, HDF is too high in offgassing for me and so I do not particularly like this type.
Related Post: Non-Toxic Gym Flooring
iii. Bamboo Flooring
Bamboo requires resin or adhesives to hold the strands together, most have a substrate and then a finish. 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.
It doesn’t do well in high humidity (warp) or very low humidity (crack).
Cali Bamboo GeoCore is made on a limestone-based core which I found quite impressive in how low VOC it was. The top layer is a thin layer of bamboo.
The other type that is very solid is the EcoFusion, which is not the typical engineered product – it is solid strand, which is 100% bamboo through and through.
Formaldehyde is a typical glue in bamboo flooring. If it doesn’t have formaldehyde it will have isocyanate-based glue (like MDI) or soy flour polyamide-epichlorohydrin (PAE) resin. The bamboo is also treated with borates.
The finish is usually UV urethane acrylate finish containing aluminum oxide. (Source: Pharos project)
iv. Magnetic Ceramic Tiles
I tested Kablan’s magnetic ceramic tiles. These are ceramic tiles with a magnetic backing.
The other side to the magnet is an underlayment that is glued down to the floor.
I found that the magnetic backing components are rubber and did have a moderately strong smell, though you may not be able to smell them once the floor is installed.
Since I tested them, they have made these tiles lighter in weight. You may have areas where you want tiles that you can pull up. It’s a cool idea, I quite liked them.
v. Luxury Vinyl Plank
There are three main types of vinyl flooring – vinyl that comes in a roll (that is way too high in offgassing for me), vinyl plank, and multilayer luxury vinyl plank.
Vinyl plank and luxury vinyl plank/tile are extremely low in VOCs and offgassing but they do have the problem of semi-VOCs – the plasticizers.
Most of it is phthalate-free now – though phthalates were replaced with alternate plasticizers. The most common plasticizer used now is DOTP.
A dedicated post on vinyl floors goes through how to pick the cleanest type of vinyl flooring and which brands I think are the best.
Multilayer LVP (Click Together)
This type has a core (SPC or WPC), vinyl top, and often an underlayment. It is click-together. The SPC core is a mix of PVC/vinyl, limestone and plasticizers. WPC cores can have real wood or plastic instead of limestone and have a foaming agent.
The vinyl floor post goes into more detail on what is in all the layers.
All LVP (and LVT) brands are very similar, there are only four main differences outlined below:
Four Things to Look at When Choosing Safer LVP
- Double-check to make sure it’s virgin vinyl (not recycled vinyl)
- Look for phthalate-free
- I have a slight preference for SPC over WPC (usually slightly lower in offgassing)
- Check the underlayment, you may choose to avoid cork (because it’s higher in offgassing)
- Mohawk Dodford 7.5″ Luxury Vinyl Planks
- Mohawk Thatcher 7.5″ & Franklin 7.5″ Rigid Core Vinyl Planks
- ✓ Virgin vinyl ✓ Phthalate-free ✓ Thatcher and Franklin are SPC core ✓ Made in America
- Cali Bamboo Longboard 9″ LVP, & Builders Choice LVP
- ✓ Virgin vinyl ✓ Phthalate-free ✓ SPC core
More brand options in the post on vinyl floors as well as a closer look into contaminants like metals.
This is the last option on this list due to the plasticizers which are long-lasting leaching chemicals as opposed to VOCs that will offgas shortly.
However, I would rank the following lower on the list (health-safety-wise) than vinyl plank: vinyl sheet, rubber floors, flooring with an MDF core, most cork brands (other than Amorim), and many conventional carpets.
You can purchase a printer-optimized PDF version of this webpage article for $5.
This contains the full article optimized for printing – with no ads, no extra white space, or blue text. Includes two files, one with photos and one without.
Cost Comparison of Green Flooring 2021 (USD)
- Wood $8 – 10 / sq ft including installation
- Polished concrete is $8 – 15 / 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 it depends on the tiles (tiles come in a wide range of costs) and prep of subfloor/installation difficulty
- Marble floor material costs are $10 – $20 / sq ft (specialty marbles can go up to $40 per square foot). Labor is an additional $3 to $7 / sq ft
- Engineered Wood – Materials $3 – 12 / sq ft, labor $3 – 10 / sq ft
- Marmoleum – Materials $4.50 – 5 / sq ft, labour $1 – 4 / sq ft
- Wool Carpet J Mish $4 – $8, Earthweave $6, Nature’s Carpet $7 / sq ft
- Cali bamboo – under $3.30 – 5 / sq ft, labour about $3 – 4 / sq ft for click
Home Depot brands $1 – 3 / sq ft
- Cali bamboo – under $3.30 – 5 / sq ft, labour about $3 – 4 / sq ft for click
- Home Decorators Collection $1.30 – 2 / sq ft, labour $3 – 4 / sq ft
Trafic Master $0.50 – 2 / sq ft
Pergo $2 – 3 / sq ft
- Home Decorators Collection $1.30 – 2 / sq ft, labour $3 – 4 / sq ft
- Cork $8 – 10 / sq ft including installation
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
Did you find this post helpful? If so you can buy me a coffee to support the research behind this blog. Thank you!
Curious to know your thoughts on “thermal treatments” or fumed/smoked reactive stain treatments on engineered hardwood. Do you know if this is just a heat treatment or if there are potentially hazardous chemicals used in the process?
if fumed with ammonia outside the house, this is safe once dried, no residual ammonia. If you want to fume it yourself use the Rubio Monocoat non ammonia, no VOC fumed product. Though they don’t say exactly what is in it.
Thank you very much!
B2B spa in pune says
The Marmoleum flooring which is glued down your wrote has isothiazolinones (which I reacted to on patch testing). Since the click Marmoleum has unknown binding to the HDF, could that binding (a glue?) also potentially have isothiazolinones?
isothiazolinones are almost always a preservative in liquids, I’ve never seen them in a non liquid building product/material but if you have a severe allergy you should contact the company and ask them and also be sure to see a sample of the product (the samples on the website are just of the top layer).
Thank you, I contacted them and will update here with any new information.
Thanks, I find your webpage extremely useful, even if I live in an area where there are different brands available. I would be very interested to hear your opinion on microcement.
Hi. I am currently looking for hardwood for a house remodel. I am chemically sensitive. I found a company whose hardwoods are greenguard gold certified and no VOC. However, they use a soy/plant based ingredient in their finish. Typcially I would think this is good, but soy is sometimes referred to as an endocrine distruptor. Would that be an issue in a floor finish
Thank you for all of your information!
Hi, soy can be used an in input to making bio-based polyurethane finishes In this format the final product is not a soy molecule but polyurethane. As for the estrogen effects I believe you would have to eat soy.
Thanks. That’s what I thought. How do you feel about the bio based polyurethane?
Its not clear that the end molecule is any different
Trying to find a brand of solid hardwood flooring that does not use aluminum oxide in their UV cured urethane finish. I am not having luck. Do you know of any?
yes there is one in the post on engineered wood
Thank you. I am looking for solid not engineered. Very hard to find.
oh, in that case I’d finish them in house.
Trying to decide between Pergo laminate (no certification, but read your post on laminate floors (that Pergo used to be Green Gold certified )and a Green Guard certified LVP, Thoughts?
**Also looking at a Green Guard certified laminate along with the Pergo laminate and the Green Guard LVP. Thoughts?
LVP has extremely low offgassing, it’s much lower than Green Guard Gold it seems to me. Laminate is much higher offgassing.
Hi! We are trying to replace our very old carpet in our three small bedrooms. We’re currently looking at the SONO Eclipse flooring. I don’t really know what they mean by mineral powder core. Somehow, that allows my brain to think of lead and other heavy metals. Thoughts? It’s a really good option for us since I don’t think we can afford wood. Thanks for your help!
it’s probably calcium carbonate
Do you know how they achieve their waterproofing? Thank you!
it’s a plastic and mineral mix, the plastic makes it waterproof
Do you know anything about laminate flooring from Quickstyle, looking at the Lumina or Great Lakes lines.
Looking for a good non toxic option for my off grid tiny home!
check out the laminate post to read about the ingredients
They told us it’s “ceramic powder” ♀️…so I’m still not entirely sure.
But yes, no Pfoa chemicals or any chemicals added.
Thank you for the info!
PFAS are not added to flooring. The mineral is encapsulated in the plastic so I would consider it safe through if you do produce dust when cutting it it should be carefully cleaned.
First of all, I want to thank you for going into so much detail about health promoting choices. This is great. This is my first time commenting here and I was wondering what you thought about Karndean? I live in the United Kingdom and they are a LVT brand. On their website they mention multiple accolades and that:
“The key raw material in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is salt, and PVC is the second most widely used polymer in building and construction and the same trusted material used in vital medical equipment, including heart and lung bypass tubing.
Karndean floors are free from BPA, phthalates and formaldehyde.
Our products are neither carcinogenic nor do they contain raw materials which are reprotoxic or endocrine disrupting; and therefore, do not require warning labels in the United States (Prop 65).”
Would you ever consider giving them a go? I ask because we are between Karndean and hardwood floors. The latter, based on your website seem the best option, but they also have formaldehyde emissions (though quite low).
Thank you for whatever advice you can provide and I hope you are able to keep up this great work.
same as the US
this post goes over risks https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2021/07/choosing-a-non-toxic-vinyl-plank-floor.html
Cathy S. says
Hi Corinne! I’m looking for a floor covering to put in my chicken coop for ease of cleaning & reduce wood rot. I’m trying to raise chickens in as much of a non-toxic environment as possible since I’ll be eating their eggs. I avoid phthalates, BPA, heavy metals as much as I can. I will be covering the flooring with shredded hemp, which mixed w the chicken poop will become my garden compost… another reason to aim for non-toxic. I wish there was a Greenguard Gold listing that listed products, but I suppose that would be a lot to manage. I’ve looked at linoleum floors, vinyl floors, etc. I’d love to find something that had a sticking back that wouldn’t require glue. Chicken coop companies use High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which they describe as “a USDA, FDA, and NSF food safe approved product for the entire deep litter system and egg hutch”. Any thoughts on this material? Thanks in advance for any recs or info you can share!
I have no problem with HDPE in a chicken coop
Cathy S. says
You mentioned isothiazolinones in the 2023 article.
I actually have an allergy to them (MI & MCI). I never thought about them in my flooring. Can you direct me to where to find that level of ingredients for flooring products?
Due to a variety of factors (pricing, color, location), we are probably using LVL in one room. Most of our house is hardwoods that only need refinished at some point but this is an odd room that used to be concrete.
It seems every option has pros & cons unfortunately 🙁
that should be LVP (sorry for the typo)
LVP can have antimicorbials in the top layer or in the underlayment. They usually don’t list these ingredients out so be sure to test samples.
I really appreciate the work you have done, you explained everything in such an amazing and simple way.
Thank you for the information you provided.
Kristin Rayner says
Hello! Our kitchen flooded, and we discovered asbestos flooring that is not in our budget to remove. This means we can’t use tile over ir, which would have been my first choice for it’s waterproof capabilities. What would recommend in a kitchen? I was all ready to purchase the cork before finding your website, but I am stressed to see it near the bottom of the list. Thank you so much for your time!
The Amorim cork is good, it’s the only brand I’ve found that is good. Not sure I’d do that in a kitchen though bc it’s not the most durable but it could work.
Do you have any concerns about the HDPE in the waterproof Amorium cork leaching estrogenic chemicals?
Also, a question about aluminum oxide. Somerset hardwood flooring has been recommeded to me. Do you have an opinion about it? I see it uses aluminum oxide in the finish as does Karhs. Your thoughts about the two brands, please. (I don’t see how to post my own stand alone comment, so I am asking within another’s question.) I appreciate your response.
I don’t believe Amorim Wise cork contains any endocrine disruptors. This is a complete list of ingredients:
Polyethylene 9002-88-4 37.068%
Cork 61789-98-8 29.972%
Calcium carbonate 471-34-1 20.707%
Oils, pine, Pinus sylvestris 8023-99-2 3.788%
Water 7732-18-5 2.207%
Acetic acid ethenyl ester, polymer with ethene 24937-78-8 1.593%
Poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl), α-hydro-ω-[(1-oxo-2-propenyl)oxy]-, ether with 2-ethyl-2-(hydroxymethyl)-1,3-propanediol (3:1) 28961-43-5 0.468%
Urea, polymer with formaldehyde and 1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine 25036-13-9 0.437%
Polyvinyl acetate 9003-20-7 0.398%
polyester acrylate 1034143-16-2 0.393%
Oxirane, methyl-, polymer with oxirane, ether with 1,2,3-propanetriol (3:1) 9082-00-2 0.262%
Fatty acids, C16-18 and C18-unsatd., Me esters 67762-38-3 0.204%
oxybis(methyl-2,1-ethanediyl) diacrylate 57472-68-1 0.193%
2-Propenoic acid, 1,6-hexanediyl ester 13048-33-4 0.182%
Ammonium polyphosphate 68333-79-9 0.168%
Acetic acid ethenyl ester, polymer with ethenol 25213-24-5 0.159%
Soybean oil, epoxidized 8013-07-8 0.146%
Phenol, 4,4′-(1-methylethylidene)bis-, polymer with (chloromethyl)oxirane, 2-propenoate 55818-57-0 0.128%
Trimethylolpropane Triacrylate/2-Hydroxypropyl Acrylate 15625-89-5 0.122%
Aluminosilicate Refractory Ceramic Fibres 142844-00-6 0.119%
2-Propenoic acid, 2-phenoxyethyl ester 48145-04-6 0.118%
2-Propenoic acid, (5-ethyl-1,3-dioxan-5-yl)methyl ester 66492-51-1 0.113%
Aluminum hydroxide 21645-51-2 0.098%
Sunflower oil 8001-21-6 0.087%
Poly[oxy(methyl-1,2-ethanediyl)], α,α’,α”- 1,2,3-propanetriyltris[ω-[(1-oxo-2-propenyl )oxy]- 52408-84-1 0.074%
Hexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,3-dihydro-1,3-dioxo-5-isobenzofurancarboxylic acid and 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol 28407-73-0 0.049%
Methanone, (1-hydroxycyclohexyl)phenyl- 947-19-3 0.048%
Diethylene Glycol 111-46-6 0.04%
2-Butoxyethanol 111-76-2 0.036%
Phosphoric acid ester methacralate 1187441-10-6 0.036%
Toluene diisocyanate 26471-62-5 0.029%
urethane acrylate 82116-49-2 0.027%
Isobutyl alcohol 78-83-1 0.022%
calcium carbonate 13397-26-7 0.021%
2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, monoester with 1,2-propanediol
Marthe Schulwolf says
Is lead in porcelain tile a concern primarily during removal and installation? Or is it also an issue once installed?
When in dust form in removal and install or in countertops if acidic food is placed directly on it.
Due to a flood, about 600 sq feet of tile was removed from our home. What can I do to ensure a healthy home? Due to mold, the house is being vacuumed and wiped with an antimicrobial. Any other suggestions? I have an Air Doctor air purifier. Will it be effective for removing heavy metals and helping with offgassing of new flooring and cabinetry?
Hi I’m looking for a shower filter that’s toxic free and filters out all or most or all toxins
HI. Wow, very resourceful website! Do you have suggestions for garage flooring? I am installing heated floor on top of the existing concrete slab. The slab does have sloped sides and gradual slope towards the door, so I cannot use a rigid flooring type like tile or plank.
Cassie Fichter says
I am remodeling a home and we are putting in new hardwood floors in the kitchen, which is now open and new flooring needs to match existing wood floor in dining room so putting in prefinished wood isn’t an option. It’s a kitchen so the finish also needs to be durable. We won’t be living in the home for about 2 months- from your experience does normal water based or oil based poly off gas quickly or is it more of a slow burn? I’ve seen your post on using safecoat poly or Vermont Polywhey, but am concerned about durability in the kitchen. Thank you!!
no to oil based poly, yes to some conventional water based polys like BONA traffic is good for most people.
Jennifer Campana says
Hello Corinne! Great information, thank you.
Would you be concerned about moisture/mold build up when using LVP over a concrete basement floor for a gym?
MRMO Technical Services says
This was a good suggestion that you put up here…dude…..hope that it benefits all the ones who land up here.
sharon O'Sullivan says
Hi I have severe MCS I live in UK and we are far behind USA mainly the illness is not recognised. This information has been great for me for quidance. As well as VOCs causing my illness I immediatley swell and have neurological pain like having acid poured on me. I am house bound and am trying to get my new property VOC free. I am slighly confused with the wooden flooring opion. Am i better having unfurnished hardwood flooriing or finished. If finished is it healthier to have the oiled or laquered flooring? Are some hardwoods better than others? Does Oak and walnut, teak etc have the same VOC levels? It is really difficult sourcing products in the uk. The World Health Organiation does not recognicse it, it is mad.
there is a post on the natural odorants of wood if you want to see more on that. There are various ways to finish hardwood that are equally good. The usual prefinished UV cured polyurethane has no offgassing and is the easiest way to go.
sharon O'Sullivan says
Thank you so much for answering and for answering so quickly. I will get the
prefiished wood as you recommend. I read about the odours, I am still stuck in my
understanding of whether olied or laquered is lowest VOC or are they the same? I will buy the finish you recommend as lowest. Oak seems to be the most affordable it didnt mention in blog which wood was lowest VOCs or are they the same, o amr I just be
being thick. Thanks again for your time, as I posted on your facebook I wish we had someone in UK like you.
Hi I have asked a number of uk suppliers they do not seem to know if wood
has been prefinished uv cured polyunethane, in this case would i be better
getting the unfished or can I assume that prefinished wood is uv cured polyunethane, Not sure if I can do that due to my severe reaction to VOC’s its like have acid pouredo over my skin. I am soconfused I can’t move into my property until I get flooring. Also still confused if oiled or laquered has the lowest VOC’s also can I
have oak fumed flooring? Myhead is about to blow up thank you very much
You can check out the posts on water-based floor finished and natural oil floor finishes. Just be aware that terms can be used differently in the UK, like the term lacquered is a tricky one. Technically in North America this means solvent based, but colloquially its used more generally. I don’t know how they use it in the UK but it might be different.
Mary Jane says
I have Junckers brand engineered wood flooring which is very popular to purchase in Europe. I bought it from a New York distributor. I have severe MCS and have had no problem with it. I used the Red Oak which I don’t believe they sell anymore but they have other woods. I used what was the “clip system” not click. I think they have a newer process for installation now that makes it easier. It is throughout my house. I love it.
I would like to add kemiko products for concrete. We bought a house after moving out mold where the builder used this brand. We’ve been here for almost 3 years now. We didn’t ask for it as the house was already built. It was the only house, new and old that my entire family wasn’t reacting to. The label says low VOC so not 0 VOC. He used the brand for the stain and the wax. You do not have to use epoxy to seal concrete. The downside to the wax, it has to be done once a year. The builder chose the wax as epoxy scratches when moving furniture. The wax site scratch when moving furniture. The choices of the builder were overall low Tox and has made a huge diff in our recovery from mold. I have been cautious with chemicals since ‘08 before my mold crashes. Voc paint was one that did bother me before mold crashes. Candles, air fresheners, etc. No big huge reaction but the smells made me turn up my nose. Then I learned how horrible chemical sensitivity can be after mold exposure so I was actually afraid to buy a new house. When we couldn’t findable mold free home, rental or Home we weren’t reacting to, it made sense to but a home we weren’t reacting to even if the cautious with new homes were out there. I’ve learned almost every pick the builder made was low Tox options. I’m now thankful we bought this home.
I saw another post about ikea furniture. I actually bought a poang chair from ikea as it seemed ikea was low Tox and many concerned with chemicals adding ikea was a low Tox as they are under Europe laws. It caused the worst reaction for us all. My daughter brought out in an itchy rash that looked like chicken pox. Our environmental doc confirmed it was chemical reaction after having the chair in the house for only a week. I started itching so over. I’m sensitive to chemicals but not chronically sensitive if that makes sense. That was the first time I’ve ever itched from chemicals. I’m currently trying to get the chrysalis out of the house and somehow return the chair. We moved it to the garage immediately when we realized it was causing issues for us all. Even our potty trained dog started making his territory in the house which he doesn’t do that correlates immediately from buying the chair. That being said, I highly highly recommend concrete floors with keikmo brand stain and seal. I don’t recommend ikea.
Do you have thoughts on the new coretec underlayment, SoftStep. It is described as being made from 100% recycled water bottles. The rep indicate phthalate free and contains no DOP DEHP additives. Do I need to worry about BPAs, and it safe to install? Thank you!
PET doesn’t have any offgassing of VOCs. It could have other residual chemicals but they are blocked under the vinyl.
Thank you! I also confirmed the specific LVP I am looking at is made of virgin vinyl and does not contain formamide. What other questions, aside from those in this article, are good to ask in terms of toxicity and peace of mind?
There is an article on vinyl flooring with more details
Facilities Management System Philippines says
Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your post about guide to non-toxic flooring 2022. I will surely bookmark this post.
Wow…you are impressive. Thank you so much for sharing your well needed knowledge. Question for you. For a person with histamine, chemical, mold issues and lymphoma-what hard flooring would you put in your home? I see Cali Bamboo is claiming their vinyl flooring has zero VOC’s. It is all so confusing. And not sure I can handle the smells of linoleum. We will be out of the home for a week or so after installation. PS After I ordered what one major brand told me was low VOC carpet, I had to send it back. It caused severe reaction the minute they brought it in. Anyhow, I used Flor carpet tiles (without the antimicrobial/antifungal properties), in our last home and I did great with it, but we need a hard surface for this room. Thanks again! : )
It sounds likely Cali LVP will be good for you, just get a sample to be sure.
Regarding Marmoleum and/or cork, I have the impression that both need to be coated/sealed once installed. So that impacts the final reality of what’s involved from a chemical perspective. (It will also impact the traction, likely making both surfaces more slippery.)
Marmoleum and cork flooring are already sealed.
Interesting. Here’s what I was told when researching these two flooring options that would have reduced chemical off-gassing:
Cork:Because it has to be installed in sections, a final coat (or 2 coats) has to be applied over the entire floor. Otherwise there are seams btwn the pieces where water could get in, which made sense. I confirmed this with a place that sold cork flooring.
Marmoleum: If one or two coats of some kind of protective finish aren’t applied, the product will wear out. I confirmed this with the manufacturer. I think I remember reading that you have/had a marmoleum floor and was curious to hear how it did/had held up over time.
Marmoleum *definitely* should not have another sealant added at installation. I a contractor told you that I would interview more installers.
Amorim Cork is the only one I recommend and it doesn’t need a sealant at installation. Some brands do it looks like but those are so high in offgassing already that adding a water based polyurethane won’t matter to the over all VOCs.
Hi there , Looking at taking up existing carpet and floor tiles on all floors in house. Has underfloor heating . Is there a healthy no VOC / Low VOC adhesive you would recommend ? My husband made a good point that if heated any adhesives surely will offgas more etc . Thought it was a valid question to ask . I’ve read about the tiles & lead . So now will research that :/. The things you learn ! Thanks for an amazing site !
The adhesive depends on what new type of flooring you are putting down. I mention some in the posts on specific flooring types.
Carol Funke says
I need new flooring in my bird room. I must use completely non-toxic flooring. Currently, there is old carpet but I would like to replace with new flooring. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. They are in a back bedroom, standard size. Thank you.
Your blog is incredibly helpful and informative. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on Flooret? Much appreciated!
Check out the post on vinyl plank floors for what to look for in a vinyl plank.
cheryl ryan says
I’m conflicted between replacing the carpeting in 2 bedrooms of our home with less toxic choices such as Cortec that we’ve had for 7 years throughout our home. We want to replace the carpeting with better choices. We do like carpeting in bedrooms but know they contain and hold a lot of toxins and other unhealthy things. As we are retired and living in an unstable economy we can’t afford to replace all our flooring; however, we would like to know if replacing the carpeting with more cortex would be a good choice vs replacing with one of the newer less toxic carpeting that is available today with less voc’s ,etc.?
Thank you for any help or suggestions
If you are referring to Coretec you can check out the post on vinyl plank for more info. I would not consider vinyl plank an improvement over 7 year old carpet in most cases. The carpet is off gassed, so it depends on if the carpet is treated with anything more persistent versus the risk of the plasticizers in vinyl flooring. It’s not an easy comparison.
Thank you for this incredible information, Corinne. In your opinion, is it beneficial to overlay LVP flooring with a healthier option, such as marmoleum? It seems like the snap-loc version of marmoleum could be placed on top of LVP, eliminating the need to rip out the vinyl. Would this protect inhabitants from the dangers of LVP? In other words, is covering up the LVP with a healthier alternative a good way to eliminate the dangers that vinyl poses to our health?
If you are worried about the plasticizers, then yes, a physical barrier would be a good option.
Would terra cotta tile be under the ceramic tile category?
Hi and thanks! Looked for brands from your list but the main store the contractor uses has only Optimax, Duralux and Nucore… all are floating, greenguard gold, and seem to be options… my brother has MCS and the condo has been remediated for mold down to rebuilding walls and ceilings… optimax suggests sentinel protect underlayment which also looks ok… looking at the others… do you think these would be ok? I believe it’s going over concrete.
Each type of floating floor has it’s own post – engineered wood, laminate and luxury vinyl plank. Those posts go over the specs to look for for each one. There is a separate post on non toxic underpayments.
Amanda Campbell says
Thank you for your work Corinne.
Do you think the Vinyl Wood Hybrid (such as OptiWood or LifeProof hybrid waterproof engineered wood) is a better choice than Laminate (like Pergo Defense)? I can’t tell from your article which would be a healthier choice for our family with young children. Possible plasticizers or formaldehyde for a while…..hmmm.
Laminate = formaldehyde for a while
Hybrid = I do think the plasticizers are blocked by the top layer but I don’t have anything to prove that. I do think it’s a better choice.
Erika C says
My husband and I found an engineered hardwood option local to our area with a water UV cured aluminum oxide. It’s not perfect but much better than the alternatives (thank you for your resources). The installers are out this weekend and leveling the rooms today. They are using their own materials (think I saw mapei) for the leveling and prep. However, I’m buying installation supplies including glue, sealer, and caulk. Do you have low or no voc recs for these things? I think the glue will also acts as a moisture barrier or do you recommend a separate moisture barrier? They are click and float floors going in the bedrooms. The sealant is for the baseboards (pine wood) after they move them. They requested “DAP extreme stretch premium crackproof elastometric sealant” and wondering if there’s an alternative to this specifically also.
Hi there- thank you so much for all your advice! We’re doing a new build and are planning on picking this floor. I imagine it gets glued to the concrete, based on what you said above this floor and the gluing is a bad idea? Sorry, so new to all of this.
You might ask if they have a low-VOC glue. When I had Karndean “Oakeley” vinyl put down in my kitchen, last summer, they used that and I didn’t have any trouble with it. Nor with the vinyl! http://www.karndean.com
Thanks for your articles, they are a great reference!
I had a question about a new product from Daltile, called Revo-tile. It uses click-in installation and same day grouting.
Is it safe to use? I need an alternative to engineered hardwood for my MH and was researching porcelain tile.
I wouldn’t use it, the grout off gasses.
Hi Corinne, Great article. Can you share the name and brand for Concrete tiles that you used in your home? Thanks.
I don’t have the name and brand of those.
Phil Hyland says
I am working on a project for a chemically sensitive person which might involved some aluminum as part of the inner wall surface. We will be using both sheets of aluminum and also angle iron made from aluminum.
There are no structural reasons that would require us to use the highest grade of aluminum. However whenever I see aluminum used in buildings for chemically sensitive people they always seem to use aircraft grade aluminum.
My questions are: Is Aircraft grade aluminum less toxic? Do lesser grades of aluminum release airborne toxics? Do lesser grades of aluminum release toxics when in contact with skin?
Thank you so much. This site is a goldmine of useful information and I am sure has helped improved the lives of countless people. Bravo!
no off gassing. look for powder coated paint as the most ideal.
Is Sono Eclipse recycling product risdual material waste back into the product the same concern as recycled vinyl or a totally different idea since its from the same product?
Hi! We are building and im trying to decide between and engeneered wood (found out made in china) or maybe doing the Sono Eclipse.
Is engeneered wood that is made i china, but still Carb 2 certified still considered safe?
Also, i read that sono recycles its material waste back into the same product, but uses heat and not chemicals. Would that be the same heavy metal concern or not?
I have no problem with floors made in China. There are tonnes of made in America products that have had lead or PFAS or other chemicals that they said they didn’t have. The two biggest scandals with Chinese products would also have been very noticeable to a nose of someone sensitive.
Thanks. I have to decide by tomorrow. And oops sorry its actaully Cambodia not China. Still ok?
And is Sono ok though they recycle the product waste back in?
Is it a bad idea to install vinyl plank over a slab even if the contractor builds an insulated subfloor?
Most people would do this without thinking, a better contractor would measure the moisture in the slab and make sure the outside detailing for water was impeccable and the land slopes away from the building and then proceed with the vinyl. Those like me who are super super mold sensitive, I would not risk it personally, but that is not a mainstream opinion.
Thank you for this info, it’s incredibly helpful!
I see that you wouldn’t recommend vinyl plank over a slab with an insulated subfloor – what type of flooring would you recommend in this case?
I’m looking to convert half of my garage to a office space and being in Denver CO, would like to have insulation between the slab and flooring without worrying about possible mold?
garage floors are not made to be converted, nor garage walls. I would either do polished concrete with only the silicates (no top coat) for breathability or you might try the flooring designed by Steve Baczek which is EPS foam, then wood based subfloor, then in this case a breathable flooring on top like wood. Not sure if that’s breathable enough for a garage. I would not convert one myself. always drying inward, not detailed underneath like a house slab.
Hi there, I found many great solid flooring options in my area with good certifications and almost zero voc’s in the testing. They use water based UV cured aluminum oxide finish like most do. The only problem I am having is, I am having a hard time finding ones that don’t use antimicrobials in the finish such as Ultrafresh. Do you know any name brands that do not use antimicrobials in the finish or are these normally a problem?
I dont have a list of brands of solid wood. You want to start with that brands you have available locally. Sometimes it’s easy to find them without antimicrobial and sometimes it’s not. Ask them what it is exactly, many won’t say.
Christa Upton says
Some ceramic and porcelain tiles used to have Microban added–very toxic. I don’t know if there is any of that going on anymore.
Yes there are some out there, it would be Microban’s nano silver.
Is Microban still a concern? I’m based in New Zealand and a lot of the flooring options available here have it added. If it is only added to a base layer, would it be less of a concern?
Depends, most of Microban is now nano silver which is not terribly harmful in theory. But yes also being under the floor is definitely less of a concern.
I have read this post about 10 times and still can’t decide what I need for my potting shed. I want the look of a slate stone floor, but can’t use tile because it’s a portable building. I’m having a hard time distinguishing between laminate and vinyl and which is better and has the option of a stone look.
I have a post that is just on vinyl and one just on laminate.
Which is considered floating floor? My husband said that would be easiest.
Floating is an installation method. Laminate, vinyl, engineered wood, cork etc can all be installed that way.
Ok thanks for the feedback! I’ll have to see which has options that look like slate.
What are some big name Solid Hardwood Flooring companies that have NO VOC or Low VOC hardwood flooring? Thank you
You don’t need a name brand for solid wood flooring.
But some hardwood floor makers add VOC’s including formaldehyde. Lauzon does not, do you know if there are others that may be more affordable? Thank you
With solid wood floors there won’t be added formaldehyde. If you are looking at engineered wood floors, there is a post that goes though brands from the least expensive on up.
Floor Way says
Thank you for sharing such a nice information. I like it very much. This information is very helpful for me and my family. Flooring is the best option for making you home attractive and luxurious.
Tshaina Ouma says
I Hope you are doing well. Yesterday I was looking for a solution regarding flooring and fortunately, found your blog ( https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2021/04/zero-voc-flooring.html ), you have shared some excellent detail about flooring than anyone who write about it. I like this very much. Your post inspired me very much.
Good article thank you
VIP Lahore says
Thank you for sharing such a great info I really appreciate you
Independent Lahore says
Thanks for sharing such a nice post
Do you have any thoughts on this article on lead in ceramic tiles and testing by the EIA?
According to them, it is pointless to test any ceramic tiles for lead because they are all hazardous in their dust form.
They are not saying they are all hazardous, but that it would be easier to just assume they all have lead and take the same precautions. However that is not what is happening in homes, lead remediation style containment on tile dust. This report seems very outdated. It is possible to test tiles quite accurately (though it is true that it’s hard to know the dust level from the XRF test) but lots of tiles are coming in at 0.00 ug/cm3 or 0 ppm, why are we accepting anything above trace lead in tile?
Thank you for your thoughts Corinne! We’ll noted!
Theresa F says
Thank you so much for the work that you do! I am looking into this flooring https://www.lmflooring.com/flooring/winfield/ and it is a plywood based engineered wood as in you suggestions. It is Carb Compliant as well as Greenguard. Wondering your thoughts on this product as well as adhesives or glues that are good to use to glue the tongue and grooves together to float the floor. I couldn’t find a glue for this purpose in your postings. Wondering if you know how long regular tongue and groove adhesives take to off gas to acceptable levels.
Thank you So Much!
The engineered wood post has more info (and a tongue and groove glue)
Great post. I was hoping to install cork in our basement, but it doesn’t look like Amorim is sold in my area. Cancork claims to be VOC-free and formaldehyde-free, and they do post test results as well. However I did order a sample and if I press my nose against it, it does smell like glue.
Really the only other option is LVT… I understand it may not offgas, but I am concerned about the long term effects of plasticizers.
The room will be used as a playroom so non-toxic is important (but so is something soft enough that my toddler won’t crack his head open while playing).
Is LVT recommended over Cancork? Would an air purifier in the room help with offgassing?
Appreciate your thoughts!!
In my view the polyurethane binder that cancork uses is not an improvement over formaldehyde. The HDF bases do contain formaldehyde as well. But comparing offgassing with plasticizers is apples to oranges.
Hi! Have you heard or know anything about Mohawk’s new waterproof engineered wood product, Ultrawood? I am looking for a floor that is waterproof, but looks like wood and is still healthy–enough.
This looks like it has a better locking mechanism. But the floor is either an HDF or MDF floor. So once water makes it way in between it will damage the flooring, even if it doesn’t go through to the subfloor. It would also be vulnerable at the edges. Also HDF has significant offgassing.
Marsha Connell says
You recommend only tile or polished concrete on a slab. But are they not harder to walk and stand on than any other covering? And harder to fall on. And a visually colder solution than wood or laminate? I have a tiled front hall which is much harder on bare feet for example. Remodeling our home for needs of aging in place. Slab construction 50’s Eichler style home currently some floors are wood plank floating glued together and some are wall to wall carpet which is stained and will not stay clean. I believe the original style of these homes used cork floors or vinyl tile looking like cork. Loose area rugs are trip hazards. We have wheelchairs, walkers, limited vision navigators. My kitchen maple wood floating floor has been way too easily water damaged. But pleasant to stand on, beautiful when new, soft to drop dishes on without breaking! Lo voc is also very important. I’d like to put same floor thru out house except bathrooms and front hall which will keep their various tiles. Help please!
You could do a “sleeper system” but not with the plastic. Designed by Cheryl Ciecko. But in a reno that might add too much height.
You can also use natural linoleum if the slab is dry. Carpet can work in some cases too.
If your floor is still dry after all this time and mold and mustiness free under the flooring that you have then it is probably fine to put down another floor that blocks moisture. Consult with local experts or Cheryl for that.
Beckie Takacs says
What is a “sleeper system”? Thanks.
Google “sleeper floor system” and it will come up.
Hi there, could you please help me find some safe, non-toxic flooring. Thanks
Hi Kristeen, I do help people individually to choose flooring! You can book an appointment here https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/contact-me
Diane Stouffer says
I cannot find a wood look vinyl that has a color that works with my leather sofa. My husband found something called Dricore at Home Depot that can be used as an underlayment on concrete to then use engineered wood. My research of the product gives me concern for formaldehyde. I am driving myself nuts. Have you heard of this product? probably have at least 50 samples of wood look vinyl.
Check out the post on underlayments.
I’m very chemically sensitive with other health issues. What nontoxic flooring do you recommend in a doubkr wide manufacturered home kitchen and dining room that will not chip, splinter and shift under the weight of a bariatric electric wheelchair? We had Shaw laminate flooring but had a flood in 2017. After restoration we unfortunately had a company recommend, sell and install Paradigm luxury vinyl plank flooring. It started chipping, splintering, shifting and lifting at the ends of the planks in 6 months. The company is fighting responsibility. Their flooring distributor is offering glue down but I’m very sensitive to glues.
I would get a really competent flooring contractor to look at this and advise on the subfloor stability which could be causing the vinyl to flex. Then they can advise on flooring types for heavy weight and once we have those recommendations we can substitute less toxic options.
Thank you so much for providing this incredible resource. We are dealing with a new construction home and the builder only offers engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl plank. (I read your other in-depth articles on both.). I’m still not certain whether the glues in the engineered hardwood construction and installation are better or worse than the potential PVC and plasticizers in the lvp. We have young children and would love to know which you would deem the better choice in terms of health. Thank you so much!
Engineered wood is definitely better in my opinion, no doubt. Check the post for which types to look for though.
Daniel Parnell McCarter says
Thank you so much for this article and for your research. For prefinished solid hardwood floors, do you think it still matters what hazardous ingredients are in the polyurethane aluminum oxide finish, if the finish is UV-cured? I’m thinking of Bruce Hardwood, but it does seem like their finish has some hazardous ingredients: https://images.homedepot-static.com/catalog/pdfImages/20/20414bc5-2fb4-47f2-abda-1d106c358a74.pdf. On the other hand, it is UV-cured. What do you think about that?
Not hazardous when cured and in solid form (not dust form). Article about engineered wood:https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2021/03/choosing-a-non-toxic-engineered-wood-floor.html
Robert Hogward says
Great article. I can get more styles, colors, thicknesses, and other features beyond what I’d expect. The best part of replacing my floor is the non-skid feature that is safe for slips.
Danny Kerner says
Hello, I’m looking for a healthy option for reducer moldings. I have PVC free resilient flooring installed, but it seems like there aren’t any PVC free reducers available. Do you know of any? And if not, would it be safer to go with vinyl reducers or Greengaurd Gold laminate?
If you mean cove style, I have seen that in TPU. Check Forbo.
Danny Kerner says
I mean the moldings that go in doorways that separate a slightly higher flooring from a lower one. I think they are called reducer moldings
Ah yes, sorry. I would still check with Forbo/UPO and other companies that make non-vinyl resilient flooring.
Rustic Southern Yellow Pine Flooring says
Hello is laminate flooring from home depot toxic the one you just lay like a puzzle? Thanks in advance!
They have now come up with Hempwood flooring. Uses soy based glue they say is no-voc. Stronger than Oak.
Thanks for letting me know! Just ordered a sample.
Susan L. Discount says
Eric, where did you find the Hempwood flooring on the Home Depot site? When I did a search, only vinyl flooring appeared.
I did get a sample of the Hemp floors after Eric brought this to my attention. I have a photo and some explanation in the post on engineered wood.
What an great article!!! It literally has everything I need to know:) Quick question Corinne: Do you happen to know or do you think solid bamboo from Cali Bamboo may have phthalates? Thanks!
solid bamboo no. Phthalates are plasticizers for plastic, especially vinyl.
Afton Jackson says
It’s great to know that carpet flooring has some non-toxic options as well. I’ve always been a big fan of carpet flooring, so knowing that there are healthy ways to use it at home is really exciting for me. If I can find a flooring company in the area that offers this kind of material, I’ll get them to install some in key areas like our living room and bedrooms.
Hello. Thank you for writing this article. Your site has been so helpful and educational. The more research I do, the more unsure I am about which floor to go with. I would really love to install wood, but I have rambunctious, young kids and big dogs. I am looking at the new waterproof laminate floors. I have found one that is made in the US, floor score certified, NALFA certified and Phase 2 Compliant for Formaldehyde.
The specifications say
Formaldehyde Emissions – meets spec – <.061 mgm / m3.
VOCs – meets spec – <.50mgm / m3
It is also made from recycled materials. I am guessing this is okay since it is wood and not vinyl? I believe they use HDF and not MDF. Would you be comfortable with this laminate? We are not sensitive, but I want to create a healthy environment for my family.
All laminate is the same, there is no significant difference between brands. This is my post on laminate https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2021/01/laminate-flooring-what-does-it-offgas.html
Thank you for this incredible article! I have some QEP brand cork underlayment that comes in rolls from Home Depot that I planned to use under engineered wood floors, but didn’t realize that polyurethane glues, polyethylene, formaldehyde binders, and polyvinyl acetate could be involved in their production. Is this also true of underlayment? I don’t smell anything, but I have found that moisture can definitely change that.
Yes I have found the underlayments to be very stong, tried to offgas one for more than a year in the heat.
hi Corinne, Im looking at installing lvp in the basement. The brand has either cork or foam backing. Would you say foam is the better choice? I thought cork as a natural product would be always be preferable to plastic.
Danny K says
Has anyone used the Sono Eclipse flooring mentioned in this article? Corinne, do you know anyone who has used it? I’m considering buying some, but have had a hard time finding opinions about it. I’ve only seen one thread about it on “houzz.com”, and many people had complaints there. Not sure what to think!
They had some quality/durability issues is what I heard too. I’m hoping it improves as they are making changes.
Danny K says
Thank you for your reply! I spoke with the company on the phone and they said their issues were mainly due to the fact that the original product didn’t have an attached underlayment, and that made it more susceptible to damage. They have now attached the underlayment, hopefully that will make a difference. I haven’t seen many opinions on their newer line that has implemented the changes, though.
The link for your natural linoleum glue on Amazon is broken.
What’s the best adhesive for that application called?
It’s Forbo the company that makes the only glue you can use with it.
Hi Corrine. So thankful for your website. We are interested in the Hybrids- particularly Raintree. In this article you mention it is your top choice in this category. May I ask more details about why it is your top choice and if you tested it for any off-gassing?
Top choice just based on the look of it 🙂 All three of those brands are essentially the same and I really like the new looks from Cali Bamboo too (and it looks like they might have removed phthalates which could change my top choice there)
Thank you for these helpful posts! I’m looking for an economical flooring option for our 5-year-old son’s room. We live in Phoenix, AZ and would be installing over a concrete floor, so I don’t know that engineered wood is a great option (not to mention the expense). What do you think is our safest option? We looked at Amorim cork, but it sounds like that might not be any safer than a much less expensive Traffic Master laminate floor. Is that true? Are there any concerns with laminate other than formaldehyde and how concerning is formaldehyde at the GreenGuard Gold level? Are there any other concerns with the melamine coating? Why does almost all of this flooring (including engineered wood) carry a Prop 65 warning? Thank you!
Over a concrete slab or basement floor I would only do a breathable floor – tile or polished concrete. Everything with wood has a prop 65 warning because wood dust (from when you are cutting it) is harmful to breathe in.
Sarah Makari says
What about limestone flooring over concrete? We used simplecoat over limestone and it is staining and showing dirt that our 50,000 dollar investment is going down the drain. Any idea how to save the limestone (honed light cream) before it is gone. Totally regretting not going with tile but we just loved the limestone look so much more.
what is staining it?
in my posts on stone sealers I talk a lot about soapstone sealer. I would test it for
– color change on your stone
– compatibility over SimpleCoat
– resistance to staining with whatever is causing your stains
Hi, Picking out an engineered hardwood flooring for the bedrooms. The install guy says due to my sensitivities it would be best to float the floor but he still has to glue the seams. Regular wood glues are not acceptable. It needs to be a tongue and groove glue. Do you know of any that would work? I searched your site on floorings, glues and none talk about tongue and groove glues.
Thanks for all you help, your info provided on your site and all that you do. You are amazing!
If you are sensitive I would choose a click together floor that does not require an adhesive. Check the installation/warranty. If they call for tongue and groove glue they might specify a brand if not you can find a 0 VOC one like Roberts (test first for sensitivities).
I ordered some mohawk sunrise marsh vinyl. I didn’t think about toxins until after. Could you help me find out if safe enough from toxins? I have a baby who at one point will be crawling and toddlers who are always touching the floors so it worries me. Could you help me find this out?
Check out the post on vinyl https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2021/07/choosing-a-non-toxic-vinyl-plank-floor.html
Michele H. says
Hello, great info!
I was very sick when we moved into our home 2 years ago and the floors were all tile (I live I Florida) except the bedrooms which were carpet. I did research on the least chemicals possible for floors to replace the carpet. They already had wood look porcelain tiles in the rest of the home, so we just matched it. Thank goodness It was luckily already a green-certified/Leeds tile. After researching I found the unmodified thin-set method from your website and a few others (we did not include the lime just in case I was sensitive to it and it seemed that wasn’t necessary based on our research) so we found a tile guy to do that and it turned out great and worked beautifully! However, I could not at the time tolerate sealing the grout but plan too once Im better if its absolutely necessary. Is grout seal really neccessary in the bedrooms as my choice would be not to bring in a chemical where we sleep? I dont care about staining as the tile and grout are dark colored already, but mold is a concern living in Florida. The only time water ever touches the bedroom tile is when we mop the floors, once every few months (if that), we mainly vacuum, and we use vinegar and water(if you recommend something better let me know). Also our foundation is concrete slab, so the floor is laying on concrete slab, so its concrete thinset morter/grout, and porcelain tile on concrete slab. We monitor our humidity and temp throughout the house, which is consistently at 76 degrees with humidity at 40-45%.
Greatly appreciate your input and thanks so much for this very informative site!
You don’t need to seal it but liquid glass is tolerated by almost everyone if you wanted to try that.
Thank you very much for the work you do. What do you think about Eucalyptus floors for bedrooms? Are they more flammable than other types of flooring? I know they can be pretreated with a fire retardant, but I’m very sensitive to a lot of chemicals. Thanks.
I haven’t heard of that before. Did a company tell you that their floors were treated with flame retardant or where did you see that?
Thank you for all the information you provide on your site! It has been so helpful with us buying our first home and my severe chemical sensitivities. We’ve decided to go with a wood like porcelain tile as that seems to be the best non toxic option that can stand up to water.
My question is about Quic Tile. Have you ever heard of it? What do you think about the quicprep underlayment and QuicTile grout? Would love to hear your thoughts on the toxicity of those. Thank you!!
Here’s a link to what I’m referring to.
I have a post on grout and thinset https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2019/07/non-toxic-grout-and-thinset-mortar.html
I wouldn’t use any premix grout.
Hi Corrine, what do you think about the SPC flooring sold in Home depot? are they really non-toxic? I greatly appreciate your input on its safety and whether I can us in kitchen or bathroom?
Hi! I love your page. I am learning more and more about toxic things in our environment and was sick to my stomach to learn how bad our floors are for our health. In 2019, we put in phthalate free LVP flooring and now 1.5 years later I’m learning that I should have done more research and feel terrible for putting my families health at risk. My question is now, 1.5 years later should I be ripping out the flooring and replacing it or is the damage already done?
I have pulmonary disease and need to find affordable flooring. Having a very difficult time aquaguard in laminate has a melamine back to it is that toxic?
Engineered Hardwood has Opticore wood fiber biproducts
I can not do vinyl and can not afford solid wood that has some waterproof resistance. Can you offer any ideas for me it is very difficult to find anything with Greenguard Gold they either have Floorscore or Greenguard regular and my understanding is they are pretty much the same thing unless you can find the Gold certification
Jeannie Nongiven says
My mdf laminate was manufactured 2015 -2016, installed 2017. Sick since. Company says meets carb limits. May have been manufactured in belgium factory. Cannot find info. Beginning fight to replace. Can you provide helpful information. I believe I must be sensitive if it is indeed within formaldehyde levels.
Tha k you
Hi, this article is so helpful- THANK YOU for taking the time.
We are considering twelve oaks floors (mainly because our in-laws have a relationship with them and are going to get them for us for free) but I’m concerned and not sold on the idea even if they are free because I have a 9 month old .
They check most of your boxes but then I saw this and I’m not sure if this is a large amount or if it’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. Thoughts?
Concentration of Dibutyl Phthalate : <1 μg/m3 after 28 days Concentration of Diethylhexyl Phthalate : <1 μg/m3 after 28 days
thank you for your research. It is very useful. However, I cannot find information about Hybrid flooring (SPC and WPC). Are they toxic free and Non OVC? I know they are new products but very popular right now. But there is not much information and review on those products. I am thinking to replace my engineered floor (to high maintenance) with SPC or WPC if there toxic free and environment friendly.
thank you in advance.
Hi I have a section on Hybrid in this post, and as for the SPC core refer to the LVP section.
Just wondering if we choose the natural solid hardwood, wood-look vinyl porcelain tile, engineered wood, or vinyl-wood hybird, are these safe for bathrooms and kitchen since they are wet? Are these also safe for high traffic or pet? Scratch easily?
I would only use porcelain or other real tile like stone for the bathroom as that can get very wet. You can use all the others in a kitchen.
What VOCs are actually measured in testing, especially those by industry? I had read it is limited to those that the EPA considers sources of smog.
The EPA has an exempt list of the ones not measured Only a few of those are seen commonly in products though. I’m much more concerned about chemicals that are not VOCs being left out of many testing types like plasticizers, flame retardants, and many antimicrobials.
Hi! Thank you for this post. I have had gym flooring in my garage for a 7 months now and the rubber smell is still there. I just started researching the issue and am so concerned about how much toxins I’ve breathed in. I called the flooring company and they said the rubber is recycled and to wash with dish soap. I want to get rid of it altogether because of the stress it causes me as I like to live a very clean lifestyle. I’m looking at EVO foam. Do you think low VOC rubber or the foam floor is best in terms of heath.
None of the rubber floors are what I would consider to be low VOC. The variations between them are minor. Foam is much better but performance wise they can barely be compared.
Hi! Thank you for this article!!
We had originally thought we were going to get Pergo or other Laminate, but just explored luxury vinyl and are now stuck. Which would be the safest option overall?
The luxury vinyl flooring we’re considering is LifeProof which claims to be FloorScore Certified, phthalate and formaldehyde free
LVP is safer if you are comparing them when new, laminate is safer in the long run, in my opinion, based on the chemicals them contain (mentioned in the post)
Lili Llanos says
This information is so useful. I came across your article when I was looking to buy a floor for my child’s room (floors had to be replaced due to water damage). Unfortunately, for some reason I overlooked the part about bamboo floors and the fact that they are not so green. So I ended up buying the Ecoforest brand sold at Floor and Decor (greenguard gold certified). The floors are solid bamboo stranded floors (100% bamboo). Bamboo is beautiful, eco friendly, durable and renewable but my big concern is the glues used to bond the strands together. After searching and searching (we only looked at flooring options at Home Depot, Floor and Decor, and at a local flooring dealer) and not being able to find anything, we settled with the bamboo floors because they were readily available at the store and because I have a similar floor in my master bedroom (Ecoforest engineered bamboo with hdf core. It has 3 layers). When I bought them 6 years ago I didn’t know much about certifications etc.
Now I am really worried that these floors are going to be toxic for my child and I don’t know if I should remove them. My husband wanted to install the Pergo Laminate Floors or the Luxury Vivyl Planks but I convinced him otherwise (for health reasons). Did I end up with the worst possible floors? The problem is that if I replace them, how will I be sure that the replacement floors will have lower VOCs since the engineered floors that I came across with were either cab II, Floorscore certified or didn’t have any certifications listed.
Would either of those engineered hardwood floors had been a better option (lower VOCs) even though the bamboo floor is Greenguard Gold?
In the meantime, my child is not still sleeping in the room (floors were installed 3 days ago. The installation method was floating and no glues were used).
These were the other flooring options:
Home Depot: oak engineered floors from Millstead (5-layer plywood, phase 2 Carb compliant). The oak would scratch so easily and the hardness rating was a 2 so they seemed not so durable.
Ark Floors: brazilian cherry engineered floors (they don’t specify what the substrate is. They are Carb II and Floorscore certified. Were going to take 1 month to be delivered). Also, the installation was going to be floating and the planks glued on the edges since they don’t have a click system.
I would really appreciate your advice. I can buy you a coffee and if you can I would like a one on one consultation on this issue. Thank you!
Of course, there is automated bookings for email consultations. I’m not doing many phone consults right now. Just keeping up with past clients and ongoing projects. https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/contact-me
Drina Brooke says
Hi Corinne, I love what you do. I believe you and I have a hand and glove work and I would love to connect with you. Please contact me at my website https://www.crystallinehomeenvironment.com I too base my work on my own experience with chemical sensitivity. Please see my policy of giving as I go, and my resources section where I would be very happy to list you, let’s connect. Thank you, Drina
Hi Corinne, can you tell me whether Stanton’s Decorative Waterproof luxury vinyl flooring is considered low in VOCs (little/no toxity)? It is “Greenguard Certified” for low chemical emissions.. We are considering replacing our upstairs carpeting (due to mold/mycotoxins) with Stanton’s product because it seems to be a very good product and will work best with our decor and it complements the downstairs engineered wood flooring that was installed years ago (we didn’t find an engineered wood option that we liked more than Stanton’s product). But I have to be mindful of chemical emissions due to a lung condition. See: https://www.stantoncarpet.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/StantonDWF-Catalog-spread.pdf – thank you! Denise
Read through the LVP section again, all brands are just about the same.
Nice article, but chemical free doesnt always mean green. We must look at: Did we cut down a forest for this floor? Forests are in dangerous decline. What was required to make this product? How destructive was it to our environment? What is the carbon footprint of our flooring choice? These are things I will research before purchasing as well.
I was thinking about this with some of the stone floors that the carbon footprint for shipping may be quite high.
That said, there’s probably another 12 pages one could write on that element alone for each product outlined, and I respect that Corinne’s focus is on physical health impacts as opposed to environment.
The venn diagram there has a lot of overlap.
Hi thank you so much for this article. I am wondering if you are aware of any brands of wood look tile that are lead and heavy metal free? Thank you so much!
We don’t know which are lead free unless they are tested, and frequently, but I would start with Porcelanosa and Daltile.
Joe Johnson says
Thanks for your article that makes a difference.
About to buy a new build and they have a seemingly good quality Vinyl. They name it LVP but isn’t that just a name that anyone can put on their material? Are all LVP safe or Phthalates free?
The company I am thinking of buying from that manufactures from China is beck hambros.
Great article, I’m searching whatever available connected with laminated flooring vs health and here I can see absolutely great info.
We’re going to have underfloor heating – do you think it makes emissions of all toxic ingredients stronger or it should be similar vs standard radiators (heaters)? Underfloor heating is planned as water in pipes heated by gas so max. temperatures of floor up to 27C degrees (I’m going to have sensors which will block anything more than 27C).. Not sure if this temperature makes laminated flooring unhealthy.. and we do not want to have tiles in bedroom (it’s not comfortable) and wood is too expensive for us.
BTW – we plan to have Parador laminated flooring (German company);, have you heard about their certifications to toxic? I can see only info that all laminated flooring matches E1 norm so nothing very specific.
Keep your great work,
Greetings from Poland.
Hi, the underfloor heating will speed of the offgassing of any floor for sure. So it will be higher offgassing at first, but it will offgas to completion faster.
What an informative site–thank you for looking out for our planet and our health. I am hoping you could help or give us some guidance.
We just put down Flor tiles in our new home office in our garage. There is a smell that has been emanating from the room since the Flor tiles were installed and we are concerned there is a chemical reaction happening btw the Flor tiles and the epoxied floor.
For additional context, this room is attached to our garage but it is built over wood. The flooring is wood with concrete on top, with epoxy on top of the concrete. These are the specifics on the epoxied floor. We had the floor epoxied 2 months before we installed the Flor tiles. Here are the details on our epoxied floors:
This is the material/epoxy product being put down:
We are spending 8 hours a day in this room and the smell persists at the same level since installation in September. We also have 3 small children spending time in the room.
These are the FLOR tiles we purchased: https://www.flor.com/area-rugs_carpet-tiles/mod-cafe/21-1447.html
Any thoughts on why there could be a smell and/or if we should be concerned? Thanks for any guidance, would love to buy you a coffee for your help!
Hi! I see you looked at Amorim Cork Wise- do you have similar thoughts on Wood Wise by Amorim? (Meaning you wouldn’t use them personally?) The declare label shows formaldehyde and urea as in the cork wise, but no BPA as far as I noticed. I wanted a wood look to the floor so I’m struggling to find something, and thought I finally settled on Amorim Wood Wise until I saw this post. Do you think formaldehyde free laminate is better?
Wood wise was essentially the same as Amorium Cork Wise. It’s better than laminate in my opinion, lower offgassing. Both Amorium and Laminate meet Greenguard gold, therefore we know the end formaldehyde level (which is lower than in the outdoor air). But the other glues are very noticeable, especially for us sensitive folks.
Are you familiar with the STUGA FLOORING. Thinking of tearing out the carpet and putting this Scandinavian wood floor in place. I have MCS. Thank you.
It’s an engineered wood. I believe it’s the same company as Kahrs. The construction is like Tesoro brand.
Hi, thank you so much for this informative post!
Between the two: Cali’s Geowood, and regular Engineered Wood (plywood), which has more total toxins/VOCs? I’m just thinking in terms total amount of carcinogens.
Hello I was wondering if you can help me find a good polish that works with eco-friendly bamboo laminate flooring. Once it is installed and the shine wears off do you know a good coating that can be put on that last for quite some time that is non-toxic Thank you so much
First thing to know is if it’s laminate or engineered (or even solid strand bamboo). Laminate is not made to be refinished. Talk to a contractor about options and then substitute in a safer brand.
Thank you I will do that! Great Information. Would happen to be able to recommend any brands you would use?
I’m not sure what type of flooring you have and if it can even be refinished! Have to find that out, then you can check out the corresponding blog posts.
AJ Smile says
I’m hoping you can help us. We’ve looked into both hardwood and vinyl plank and the prices are about the same. We’ve learned that hardwood with nail down installation is the best for asthma … but … we learned that plywood is made with resins which are toxic. So our question today is … which is least toxic, vinyl plank flooring (floating) or the plywood subfloor required for nail down hardwood. Could you help us please?
Plywood with hardwood far better https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2019/09/chemical-offgassing-from-pressed-wood.html
AJ Smile says
Thanks for the reply regarding the plywood. We now have another question about an electric fireplace mantle and bookshelf unit. The product description says “Materials: Poplar, engineered wood, polyresin, metal, resin, glass.” There is a display that’s been on the showroom floor for over a year. Our questions are … Would you recommend such a product for a home with asthma and if so, would the display have off-gassed enough over a year for it to be safe? Your recommendation and advice would be appreciated.
Linda Parker says
Was considering Tesoro Luxwood distributed by International Wholesale Tile for our house.
Its listed as Floorscore but comes with Anti-Microbial Protection. Is this a concern?
It’s not necessary to have an antimicrobial in vinyl. I don’t know which one they are using though. It’s not in most vinyl floors.
Linda Parker says
Thanks, last question. It states it has a ceramic top coating. This wouldn’t contain lead like ceramic tiles that used glazing?
I haven’t seen that contain lead. Recycled vinyl can contain metals though.
Have you heard of Scratch master???
It’s an LVP but their webpage is suspiciously minimal and I just can’t find any reviews or more details online because it’s such a new product. Is LVP lower VOC per se or should we try to get more specifics?
We are not very sensitive to off gassing but I would love to have the most heathy option available in our tight budget. Cali Bamboo seemed great but when we received the samples I was surprised by the unnatural look. Scratch master looks way better.
Thanks for your outstanding work, by the way. We visited your website many times over the years and are beyond grateful! I wished we could give you more than just a coffee for all that you do! Thank you!!!
All LVP is very similar. I would only ask about the few things that could be different, if it’s virgin vinyl, if it’s phthalate free, and if it’s a stone core.
Have you looked at Raintree waterproof engineered hardwood flooring? It is Greenguard Gold and I have been told it has no phthalates as well. Our builder is recommending a 6 mm vapor barrier over the existing OSB floor which is over a 4 ft crawl space. What is your opinion? Raintree says no underlay is needed as there is IXPE at the bottom. The climate is Marine to Mediterranean with wet winters and dry summers. We were considering an underlay for extra insulation and sound reduction.
Ah, this is another vinyl and real wood hybrid. The vinyl layer is already a vapour barrier there and the IXPE provides some cushioning.
I am concerned that so many of these require a vapor barrier be installed to meet manufacturer’s specs. Products needs to be vapor permeable to avoid mold. Slabs are most difficult to deal with because water from the slab will be trapped behind anything non-vapor-permeable (whether a non-permeable product like vinyl, or a plastic vapor barrier.) But that same moisture can damage permeable products such as wood. This is the biggest problem with slab foundations, as there are limited options. Raised wood sub-floors are okay with non-permeable products (like vinyl), because moisture can dry downward. But not if you install a vapor barrier underneath. The flooring manufacturers don’t seem to have an understanding of building science.
Top building scientists like Lstiburek have no problem putting a vapour barrier over a slab. But those of us mold sensitive know what happens in most cases when we do that. Cheryl Ceicko thinks the slab should remain breathable. Tiles or polished concrete. But it’s not necessarily the majority opinion.
I’m thinking to put luxury vinyl tile in my bathroom. Have you heard of Setagrip which is available at Home Depot?
There are not major differences betweeen LVP brands. I would use the criteria in the post and even then, they are not that different! There are other flooring categories that have major differences between brands but LVP is not like that.
Landon "Lumber Master" Edgington says
All the combination design for flooring are great, but for me tiles with wood hits different. It gives cleanliness vibes to the house.
Deborah Sev says
I am taking out my carpets and putting in cali engineered bamboo floors. Because of financial limitations I was planning to wait on changing the old linoleum in the bathroom. The painters somehow misunderstood and thought I was going to also do the bathroom floors so got paint on linoleum. He is now feeling bad and has suggested I put in glue down tiles which He says are cheap and he won’t charge much to put it down. Are there any easy to lay tiles that are not very toxic?
That sounds like he is talking about vinyl that comes in tiles which is like sheet vinyl, one of the most toxic options.
Pamela Fisher says
Can you recommend a DIY product that would give porcelain/ceramic tile a shinier appearance? Thank you!
I wouldn’t re glaze porcelain myself.
I am thinking about purchasing 2,000sq feet of Shaw amber oak LVP flooring..Do you think that will be safe in my home with my four children ?
I would look at whether it’s virgin vinyl and whether it has plasticizers but no LVP is totally safe since they all have plasticizers and they also offgas VOCs.
Hi. I’m researching this product WINEO Purline Organic Gloring. Made in Germany. It claimed to be 100% clean. Price aroun 6$CAD/sqf Any thoughts?
This is very similar to the Shaw contract polyurethane rolls it looks like but I don’t know all the European brands.
It will be installed over the radiant hydronick heated floor. I wander if WINEO will have lover ofgassing that lets say vinyl plank with Greenguard Gold certification. This is all sertifications for WINEO: PURLINE has the Blue Angel, Greenguard Silver, TFI-TÜV PROFiCERT, the DGNB Navigator Label, the EPD Label of the German Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V., the Finnish M1 for building products, the Danish Indoor Climate Label, the French A+ Seal, the eco bau Bais Schweiz rating, C2C silver certified and the American Floor Score Label
I tried to book a slot with you to go over flooring brands. Are you booked all through next year or is this a system error? Thank you in advance for all you do!
I’m off work, I’ll be back soon.
Hi Corrine. Our family is in the process of trying to find a replacement for our current flooring….25+ year old carpet which is on top of solid hardwoods. Would love to be able to refinish the hardwoods, but just not an option as it would be impossible as we have nowhere to go during the process. At first we strongly considered LVP. After reading yours and many other articles about the potential hazards of LVP, we are trying our best to avoid it. I went to a flooring store today that sells Marmoluem because we feel that may be our safest, greenest option. I was given a few samples, but honestly now I have doubts about it also. I was given 5 3×3 inch samples. They smell horrible….so bad that I had a headache after having them in my car for a 30 minute drive home. Also, since the Marmoleum is affixed to HDF board, how is that any safer than say laminate that is affixed to the same type of board? I feel like I am trying to determine which is the lesser of two evils….LVP that has toxins in the vinyl layer which is covered by a topcoat that has a relatively safe stone core (limestone) or Marmoleum that has a green (but horribly smelly) topcoat but a questionable (HDF) core? How probable is it that toxins will leach out of the LVP through the topcoat? Also, what is considered a safe topcoat on LVP? Seems like most manufacturers are using aluminum oxide. Thanks! Your information has been eye opening….I can no longer be an ostrich with my head in the sand when it comes to flooring.
One last question….do you have any research and/or opinion on floating, click together engineered hardwood with the stone core versus plywood?
I currently have old tiles on my den floor, which probably have asbestos. When we first moved in, we didn’t want to deal with them and move them so we laid wall to wall carpet over it all. Id rather be greener and get rid of the carpet, but dont know what kind of green flooring I can place over the old tiles. Any suggestions?
A lot can go over linoleum luckily!
Yes, I mention a couple of those brands in this post.
Marmoleum click has the HDF core which is the same as laminate. It’s not safer. The top layer has the odor of linseed and other natural components. It’s not the topcoat that smells.
Amy Williamson says
Love this article! I need to remove the carpets in all bedrooms, I’m pretty sure it’s harboring molds among other things……I found a concrete company that’s certified to do the Retroplate System Polish (only one in my area), but unfortunately after getting a quote….I never heard back from them and it’s been over a month. So I’m considering moving on to a different flooring option.
1. What do you think about Kahn’s LVP? I didn’t see any information on this brand in your article (except the engineered hardwood). They make clammed like pthalate and PVC free…and a ceramic top?? Curious if you have some detailed knowledge on how toxic/non-toxic this LVP is. I didn’t see any mention of GGG certification and I don’t know any details like if they use virgin materials and if they’re free from heavy metals etc. I’m wondering if you’re able to get this type of information from the company because of your blog. Any information at all would be helpful and appreciated.
2. What are your thoughts on using cars engineered hardwood floors and very humid places like Texas, Florida, Georgia etc. I live in Northeast Florida and it’s always humid here. It’s the reason I’m going to take out my carpet because it smells mildewy and moldy. What are your thoughts on using cars engineered hardwood floors and very humid places like Texas, Florida, Georgia etc. I live in Northeast Florida and it’s always humid here. It’s the reason I’m going to take out my carpet because it smells mildewy and moldy. I just want to make the right choice for the location I’m in. The rest of our house has ceramic tile and grout. But the builder put carpets in the bedrooms with slab concrete underneath.
Amy Williamson says
***Kahrs (autotype messed that up twice hah)
LVP is vinyl/PVC so it can’t be PVC-free. I would only do tile or polished concrete on a slab for breathability especially because it sounds like your slab is getting wet.
Amy Williamson says
Is Floorscore certification sufficiently safe for a healthy person? Or is it pretty much a certification better left ignored?
I don’t find that one useful, it only means it is within legal VOC levels. I don’t think there is a flooring that would not be able to be floorscore. Here is more info about what it means https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2018/12/what-green-certifications-mean-for.html
I was looking into the mono serra hardwood at Home Depot and noticed it has no water protection. Is this problematic? Is there a product you could suggest to protect against water damage?
the mono serra solid hardwood is finished with a polyurethane/aluminum oxide UV cured finish which is the most durable finish for hardwood.
Hi Corinne –
If you happen to see this – please post any info you have!
I have purchased some Mohawk flooring – Laminate, Laurel Glen Oak w. splash defense (like Mindy from post June 18, 2020 at 3:50 pm) – for a large area (attic converted to master bedroom) and then became concerned about possible off-gassing and formaldehyde.
How safe is this laminate?
In regards to formaldehyde?
It has Polyethylene foam attached to the underboard, they claim they use PUR in the fiberboard wood core – MDF(?) (dont state what this is made of) as glue with no added Formaldehyde and the top is treated with Aluminium Oxide (saw your post on and surface metals released from wear and tear).
Cannot afford Kahrs, looked at 100% sold (carbonized-strand wide plank) bamboo and now see from your info it also has Formaldehyde and other issues.
I read your comments about Pergo which was bought by Mohawk and they do not use Greenguard – bu they say they are CARB and Floorscore certified – any good?
I am super sensitive and concerned about any formaldehyde.
Please post and let me know!
Your Information is a lifesaver – been going through all wood-related research articles, which have been tremendously helpful! A contractor installed PRESSURE TREATED PLYWOOD inside and I am so glad I found this site and your posts!
My mum died of cancer and a formaldehyde/pesticide connection was suspected as part of the cause, and I am supersensitive like she was – both off-gassing and metals.
Thank you for all you do!
I’m curious how long most vinyl plank floors have been phthalate free, if you know. We currently live in an apartment and the flooring is what I assume to be vinyl planks. They were installed about 6 years ago. Until we can find a house, I’ve been concerned about the safety of the flooring for my 2-year-old. Thank you!
I also have the same question.
We have this one at the moment from 2015 I guess.
kimble tubes says
Thank You So Much
We are looking at using Southwind Authentic Plank WPC LVP (https://southwindcarpet.com/product/173855994/authentic_plank_3005_antique_pine).
I’m reaching out to them for more details after reading your post, but do you have any knowledge of this product?
Looks like they are certified by Floor Score, which complies with California’s Section 01350 program.
They use plastic composites and foaming agents. Virgin vinyl. Two coats of urethane for wear. They use IXPE closed cell foam for the pad underneath.
Precautious Father says
Coretec uses recycled vinyl, but they are GreenGuard Gold certified in their products. This means it meets indoor VOC emission safety requirements for healthcare and child daycare. Yet the material may have associated toxic contaminants like heavy metals and halogenated flame retardants as you say, which GGG does not test for.
Is it still safe to rely on the GG Gold certification even though the products may contain toxic materials that do not emit VOCs? It is unclear to me how we are exposed to the heavy metals, are they on the wear layer surface, or buried into the core polymer where it doesn’t make contact with he surface, hence no toxic skin contact? A green flooring company sells this product and advertises recycled vinyl as a greener approach along with the GGG rating.
Thanks for this article, I have been following it for 2 years and still haven’t made a flooring decision to remove carpet. I was leaning towards Kahr’s, but due to young children I am now leaning towards a water proof solution.
GGG doesn’t help for vinyl plank. They would all pass that level since the VOCs themselves are not the high. The plasticisers are the next main concern there. I can smell them but they don’t count as VOCs. Then metals, not great, but yes you would have to wear it down to make those dust form. Sometimes it’s in the vinyl, sometimes there is a metal antimicrobial in the backing. Then the flame retardants if it’s recycled would be mixed in.
I do like Kahrs!
A lot of people like Amorium Wise cork even though it has a bit of offgassing that I can pick up at least we know that will cure and there won’t be any plasticisers, metals or flame retardants leaching out.
Ken Wah Chez says
What’s your take on Cali bamboo’s Geo Wood? I got some samples and like that it’s a wood veneer on top and limestone for the core. I called to see if they added anything to the core and they said it’s 100% limestone. I need something durable, pet and kid friendly, and resists water. Both my kids are asthmatic and I am sensitive to odors. I’ve done so much research that my head swims with all the options available. Any thoughts?
I liked Geowood but I’m almost positive that core is a limestone PVC mix. I will add that to the post.
Yes, it is mixed with PVC. Would this be a concern having PVC in the core? Would it leach out? Or is it safe since it’s covered by the wood so we aren’t actually coming into contact with it? I like the idea of being able to use this in bathroom/kitchen but I really want to avoid plastics/plasticizers/phthalates etc
Love your article. Super helpful! We are trying to figure out what type of floor to place underneath a traditional dry sauna that we are installing in the unfinished part of our basement (currently there is only concrete floor there). We are trying to pick a 0 or very low VOC option that will be able to handle the small amount of moisture. Do you happen to have a recommendation of what types of floor you think would work best? Thank you for your time and consideration.
I would do tiles there.
When there are a lot of pros and cons to work through I would recommend setting up an email or phone consultation.
Thank you so much for all of your resources. Can you tell me if it is possible to use porcelain or ceramic tile as the main flooring in a tiny home on wheels? If not, what is the least toxic option that would be mold resistant?
I haven’t seen it done due to weight. Real wood tends to separate so which ever of the click together floors is best for you is usually the best option. There is also a post on flooring for trailers though that’s more for metal trailers and vans.
Thank you for this detailed post! I had a question for you about a laminate floor that has green guard gold rating… I am confused because it is made with MDF, but yet meets greenguard gold standards. It was my understanding that most MDF has high formeldahyde. Are there some with lower levels? Not sure how this product could meet green guard gold standards?
Is it HDF or MDF?
Crystal Poynton says
Is there a brand for underlayment that you would recommend for floating laminate?
Any of the basic foam underlayments I have seen have been fine. Some are already attached on the back, that is easier.
Bryan Ranaldo says
Putting these LV floors by Global Gem in, are you familiar with? Global Gem Flooring is manufacturer
Almost all LVP has the same specs now just look for the three things mentioned in the article.
I have a new post just on underlaymants https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2020/07/non-toxic-flooring-underlayment.html
We’re looking at Armstrong Duality Premium Sheet Vinyl. Floorscore certified. Floating installation, no glues. I note the FloorScore certification sheet says this: “FloorScore® Indoor Air Quality Certified to SCS-EC10.3-2014 v4.0 Conforms to the CDPH/EHLB Standard Method v1.2-2017 (California Section 01350), effective April 1, 2017, for the school classroom and private office parameters when modeled as Flooring. Measured Concentration of Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC): Between 0.5 – 5.0 mg/m3 (in compliance with CDPH/EHLB Standard Method v1.2-2017)”
On your page where you address certifications you write this: “FloorScore allowable levels of VOC is 0.5mg/m3 (500 μg/m3)” & note that it is equivalent to Greenguard. (There was no comments box on that page.)
Can you fill me in on the discrepancy? The flooring we’re looking at is evaluated at up to 10x the level you note. (& please send an email note if you can when you post, unless I’m notified automatically of responses).
Thanks! We are close to purchase.
Sorry for the confusion. Floorscore does have two tiers. Usually, on the certificates they indicate 0.5 mg/m3 since most floors meet that level. But there are a few that are in that 0.5-5 mg/m3. Most floors meet less than 0.5 mg. Sheet vinyl is probably the highest VOC flooring choice. On top of that plasticizers are not counted in the allowable levels.
Maite Crespo says
Thank you for your wealth of information. I’ve learned so much from your articles! We are buying a new manufactured home and only have 3 flooring options by the builder, I’m sure we could ask for more, but we would t be able to afford it. We have carpet which I know is synthetic and they use adhesive. They offer us rolled vinyl sheets that after all the research I’ve done has: scotch guard, silver particles and a high density foam construction. It is made by Congoleum. I did find that Congoleum no longer uses ortho-phthalates, which is good and our dealer only uses staples to install, so no adhesive, but everything else worries me. Or last option is a LVP made by Triumph, which is snap in, so again no adhesive, from what I was able to find it did contain dioctyl (which I’ve read it’s something to avoid as its an ortho-phthalates) and terephthalate which is guess its better. Obviously the planking is a MUCH higher price from our builder (about $10,000 more than the rolled), though it would be a huge dent that we weren’t looking to spend, if that’s the safest option (we have 3 kids and pets), we will do it. What is your suggestion? Thanks so much!
Vinyl on a roll is far higher offgassing than anything else. It depends on what you are trying to avoider but LVP can be quite inexpensive. Laminate flooring can be too, if that offgassing level is OK for you.
Maite Crespo says
Thanks Corrine! Unfortunately they don’t offer us laminate at all, so we are trying to do the best with what they are offering! Is the ortho-phthalates ok in the LVP?
Marissa Rivera says
Hi Corrine! I can’t believe how much great information you have provided and how helpful it is! Thanks for putting this info out there for everyone to get! We want to replace the carpet in he bedrooms with something affordable, but suitable for everyone, specially my youngest daughter. She suffers from various environmental, food and other allergies as well as asthma. She is is sensitive to latex and will be tested in 4 weeks for other kinds of allergies such as formaldehyde and other chemicals. It’s been highly frustrating to figure out what would be the best options for the bedrooms, specially when budget is very limited. Bedrooms are small, we need to cover about 450 sq. Ft for bedrooms, and if we can afford we would do the living room/dining room area that is about 308 sq ft. The house is a one level house, so under the carpet is just concrete slab. I’m going to wait for her test to be done, that way I feel I can focus more on what to avoid for sure. If you have any other tips or recommendations , it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
I am very interested in what advice you get. I am in a similar situation with my whole family being extremely sensitive to chemicals and we need to replace all carpet immediately but need something water repellent or at least very resistant. We cannot afford real wood floors and are installing whatever we buy ourselves. I wish you and your family good luck and health.
I have purchased some Mohawk flooring – laminate, laurel glen oak. I have since noticed some comments about formaldehyde. Do you know how safe this laminate is? I have not installed it yet and could return it.
I purchased the same, for a large area (attic converted to master bedroom) and then – like you became concerned about possible off-gassing and formaldehyde.
Were you able to find out how safe this laminate is?
Where did you read comments about it containing formaldehyde?
What did you end up doing – installing or returning it?
I am super sensitive and concerned about any formaldehyde.
Please post and let me know!
If you happen to see this – please post any info you have!
Your Information is a lifesaver – been going through all wood-related research articles, which have been tremendously helpful!
My mum died of cancer and a formaldehyde/pesticide connection was suspected as part of the cause, and I am supersensitive like she was.
Hi Corinne, Hope you are keeping safe and well. I have just stopped my builders using plasticizer in the mortar for the brickwork. I asked them just to use water with the portland cement. However, the company pouring the concrete floors do use plasticizers. Would you consider this a problem. Above this will be an underfloor heating system and a floating laminate floor by Kronotex (part of the Swiss Krono group) . Thanks so much for your help. In the middle of a stressful renovation!
Your Irish fan
If they are pouring self-levelling cement it will definitely contain additives. No getting around that as far as I know.
Shane O'Hara says
Thanks Corinne…are plasticizers/phthalates a problem when mixed with cement? is there a concern regarding leaching out or offgassing? There are other areas cement or cement based adhesive will be used and I was anxious about this. Thanks so much for your help and I’ll definitely be buying you a coffee!
We are considering Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring for an apartment we rent to international post-docs who come and go. Do you know anything about this brand: Republic Flooring, Pure SPC MAX, The Pacific Oak..? Thanks!
Did you ever find out if Republic SPC is Phthalate free?
Thomas Perea says
We are in the process of putting in 700 sf of LVP made by MSI.
Will be going in the main living room and TV room with a lot of traffic.
Just started reading up on “off gassing”.
Should we be concerned about our new floor being toxic??
Would we be better off going with a wood look tile?
Perhaps I missed it but are there any particular brands for tile? I’ve been searching and I can’t find any. Thank you.
There are a few in the bathroom post that were tested for lead!
hi im looking to put in vinyl plank flooring. looking at spending between 2-3 dollars a sq ft. can you recommend which product produces the lowest VOC? thanks
LVP doesn’t list VOC levels and the main problem is plasticizers which are not VOCs. The brands listed here are ones I found to be decent and I do think it’s reasonable for many people to use LVP.
Jin Sim says
Have you tested coretec pro brand compared to Amstrong or Cali bamboo?
Bill Abelson says
Thank you for the extremely detailed info. My partner is considering an apartment which has Pergo vinyl flooring. Is this specifically toxic or nontoxic? And could it outgas for years (it was installed very recently).
The vinyl brands are all very similar I have found, if it’s LVP.
Bill Abelson says
Thanks. I found the brand, it’s Lifeproof Luxury Vinyl Flooring (PVC is indeed among the ingredients). I see in your post on non-toxic van flooring you mention LVP is much more tolerable than people generally think and very low-VOC.
So it might be OK, but my partner’s concerned it would contain biocides and fungicides that are likely toxic, too. Would you know if that’s correct?
Some of them have a silver based biocide in the backing. But biocides are not the biggest concern I have with vinyl.
Crystal Poynton says
Is there a brand of underlayment that you recommend for floating laminate?
Elizabeth Hirsch says
Hi there – I have been searching for Greenguard Gold certified laminate flooring. Aquaguard sold through Floor & Decor has this certification. However, it uses a “durable melamine balance layer” and has an aluminum oxide coating. Would you still consider this product as safe? How toxic is this aluminum oxide coating? We are searching for a baby safe floor for our basement. We were going to go with porcelain tile, but decided it’s just too hard with a wobbling toddler and baby in the house. Vinyl is a no-go since we’re avoiding PVC. Laminate seemed like a good midpoint, but now I’m not so sure…
This is essentially the same coating as the UV cured aluminum oxide that is on the prefinished floors. Most consider this safe. I’m not a big fan of adding metals, but I’m particularly extreme with metals personally, much more than VOCs for myself. I haven’t seen this brand to check out the backing. Though melamine is not usually a concern in the forms I have been able to check out.
Shane O'Hara says
Hi Corinne, Hope you are keeping safe and well. I have just stopped my builders using plasticizer in the mortar for the brickwork. I asked them just to use water with the portland cement. However, the company pouring the concrete floors do use plasticizers. Would you consider this a problem. Above this will be an underfloor heating system and a floating laminate floor by Kronotex (part of the Swiss Krono group) . Thanks so much for your help. In the middle of a stressful renovation!
Elena Cavaljiu says
Hi, what type of flooring would be best in a basement for kids to play on? I’m overwhelmed. Thanks
This is my question too! It seems the dampnes of a basement really points to only tile, but so hard and cold, and rugs are a trip hazard for someone in my family. We keep putting off getting the floor fixed at all, because there is no good choice.
I would go breathable personally as I have seen too many problems with mold. Polished concrete is ideal in the basement. Tile can work but it’s a little more involved with a breathable underlayment. Some carpets are breathable, and Marmoleum is breathable but requires a vapor barrier under it if there is any dampness below so it’s not likely going to work for a basement.
Camille Bergman says
Hi! Have you heard of Revwood by Mohawk? I am building a home and I have option of Revwood or Engineered floors . They are both Mohawk brand. I have two young boys (7 and 8) and I want to make sure it is safe. This will be going into their bedrooms. Revwood is a laminate / wood hybrid. It does contain melamine.
One would be a laminate which are all quite similar. The other is engineered. You would have to look at each one more closely to determine which is best. This post contains brands I have looked at personally so I can compare them more accurately.
I was unclear as to whether the hardwood flooring information would apply when you have concrete foundations. Could hardwood flooring be installed without glue ?
I wouldn’t put wood over concrete slab or basement. Some people do put engineered wood (not solid) over concrete but I wouldn’t since the underlayment will trap moisture.
Can you recommend an underlayment for the wood laminate flooring? Thanks for this post, so informative!
Some of them come with a attached polyethylene foam backing which acts as the underlayment. I like that one quite a bit. Most underlayments are non toxic. I would avoid cork. It also depends where you are installing it, to make sure it’s not trapping moisture. But in terms of toxicity I haven’t seen any of the plastic ones have any significant offgassing.
I am planning to install laminate flooring over concrete slab. Would this work okay? I’m not sure I understand about moisture trapping in another comment or the solution to it. Thank you!
Best practices for mold prevention would be no vapour barrier over the slab. So no floating floors. Only breathable polished concrete or tile. Of course most people do put a vapour barrier and then the flooring of their choice. I go by Cheryl Ceicko’s recommendation on this.
Elizabeth Hirsch says
Is the risk that the slab will develop mold? We’re searching for options for our basement as well. Tile is too hard with babies in the house…too much worry about cracking their heads on the floor. Same for polished concrete.
Hi! Are any of the peel and stick floor tiles safe?
The ones I have seen are all soft vinyl, which I find to be the most challenging material for offgsassing.
Daniel S Japha says
Hi Corrine. Great information here. My wife and I are looking at putting in the healthiest wood floors we can find. We had found the Swedish floor Kahrs and it looks great–zero formaldehyde and most choices show zero VOC’s. Why is this flooring not in your greenest category? Thank you
celina Burns says
Can AFM adhesive be used for porcelain tile?
. It says ceramic tiles on the site, but doesn’t mention porcelain.
I would ask them but porcelain is technically a type of ceramic so I would think so. Depends on the application though as well. The adhesive is only specified for certain areas. Jay at AFM or Andy at Green Design Center can both help.
Celina Burns says
My contractor usually uses plywood for a subfloor. Is there something that is better or can you recommend the least offensive plywood? Thanks!
This post covres subfloor! https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2018/07/zero-voc-sheathing.html
In regards to toxicity, is vinyl sheet flooring different from vinyl plank flooring? Thanks!
Yes absolutely, far greater offgassing from flexible vinyl sheet. I wouldn’t be able to be near a new install of that.
You mentioned that you found off-gassing of Cali geo bamboo in the finish. Does it come from the pranks or the glue/adhesive used during installation? or underlayment?
It seemed to me to be the finish on top. Not the glue or underlayment.
Love to know your thoughts about a polypropylene carpet that is still pungent when not constantly aired or during high temperatures 8 months after installation! Would you expect it to be off gassing or chemical residue which could possibly be steam cleaned out?
Can’t believe it still smells so much and concerned it’s aggravating an autoimmune disease.
Carpets are improving but they still take years to offgas to most people’s standards. What brand is it? Here are some strategies to offgas and seal it https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2019/05/mitigating-sealing-remediating.html
C. Katz says
Could you answer to my email and not publish please?
I have a playroom with a conrete floor. Only one window. Want to put something over concrete tat is easy to clean up with out vacuuming, stain resistant and soft enough for my grandchildren.
Wood is great but out of my price range. Could suggest something?
I really appreciate your information!!! I have a small house with concrete sub floor and asbestos tiles from 1962. I want to put green flooring but do you think its safe to just cover the asbestos tiles with the new flooring. Its very expensive to remove the asbestos completely. I am still considering removing it entirely.
My other issue is I have two dogs who are not perfect at their house training (one is quite old). I have had hardwood which I sealed myself but I still managed to stain it badly. What flooring can hold up to urine and still be as green as ;possible.
stone flooring isn’t necessarily non toxic. there are stones that will release radon into your home.
I am loving your website and I think it is one of the best resources on the web! I regularly check my ideas of what to put into my house against your website and you helped me a ton!
I have recently read your https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2019/09/zero-voc-flooring.html
It is as usual awesome source of knowledge but I am wondering if you have researched Epoxy floors and if you have an opinion about them? In the past they were problems with them but after initial off gassing they seem to be pretty green. Where would you put them in the scale compared to other types of flooring?
Here is what I mean by this type of floor: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=epoxy+floor
I’m looking to buy a house with vinyl flooring. I was able to find out the flooring is DuraLux Performance Tuscan Greige Oak purchased from Floor & Decor. I read a review stating it is Greeguard Gold certified. I’m not sure how to verify that. I am trying to figure out if the flooring contains phthalates but somehow the Greenguard certification doesn’t even consider phthalates?
Does anyone know of an easy, non-toxic cement-like coating that can be applied over plywood and then polished or waxed for a continuous floor without seems? I came across something like this awhile back but cannot find it again.
What are your thoughts on the brand Karndean? Here’s the link to their environmental statement: https://www.karndean.com/en/floors/about-us/environmental-commitment.
My husband and I are looking to replace about 1,000 sq ft of flooring on our first floor (great room, living room, dining room, entry, powder room, and kitchen). We love a 5″ natural hardwood, but the pricing just seems too much for our budget. We’re looking for a floor that is on the healthier side and won’t be scratched easily by our two 50-60lb goldendoodles. (A plus would be something we can install ourselves since we’re pretty handy!) Would your recommendation be low-voc laminate? We were interested in cork, but heard it could scratch/dent easily?
I wouldn’t use recycled vinyl. The post explains.
What is your recommendation for the least expensive non toxic option?
It depends which ones you consider to be non-toxic for you. Price comparison at the bottom of the post. Everyone has a different level of toxin avoidance. After tiles I would do Kahrs, and after Karhs I would do Marmoluem, if those don’t work or are too expensive, I would go to laminate or LVP – depending on which is better suited to you and where you are installing it.
I got an email from Green Building Supply about a new waterproof cork flooring that competes with LVP. It’s called WISE waterproof flooring by Amorim. Have you seen this? What are your thoughts?
I have a sample on the way! I’ll add it to the post when it arrives.
Id LOVE an update on the Amorim Wise. I am considering this and need to decide in the next week. Thank you! Axiously awaiting
I’m now considering Amorim Wise Cork Flooring for our second floor that has bedroom, bathroom and laundry room. Would love to hear your thoughts.
I mention it in the post.
Green building supply is highly recommending it♀️
Yes i know, the two major online retailers for green building have been pushing it hard. It’s not at the top of the list in terms of offgassing. But it’s quite good.
I have a new video will post soon comparing more vinyl brands. It will be posted to the FB business page My Chemical-Free House and Youtube. They all are going to be able to meet some green certifications. I don't put vinyl over a slab though as it should dry to the inside for absolute best practices in preventing mold.
What is your opion on lowes brand smartcore ultra luxury vinyl plank flooring its green certified low voc we are looking at putting it on concrete slab i have asthma and in east texas is humid
Chemical-free Trailer says
What are those "many other ways"? Can you suggest some options that are zero VOC/non-outgassing? As I mentioned, we tried Simple Prep and the jar sample outgassed badly. The other key since it is a travel trailer and not a fixed home, the filler needs have some flex to it so it will not crack or break under vibration. Yes, we do plan a floating floor on a plywood base, but it has some gouges and seams that we would like to level before laying down the floor.
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.
Chemical-free Trailer says
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.
I like that it's phthalate free, but is is vinyl through and through. I'm going to get a sample of that one.
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.
Older floors were much worse, if it was made with urea formaldehyde it can offgas for a long time.
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?
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!
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
Is aluminum oxide safe on hardwood flooring?
Yes when it's in solid form, no if it wears off an becomes dust and you ingest or inhale it…
Does this mean that Geowood could be unsafe if the finishing layer gets “sanded” from moving furniture or other tasks of daily living over time???? Since it is aluminum oxide (7 layers with a UV cure)?
personally, I’m wary of aluminum dust. Though the wear and tear is very very minimal compared to other sources of aluminum in the environment that unless someone is going to the utmost extremes with metal avoidance I consider it a safe option for floor.
What is the best organization for "green" floor certification?
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
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!
Hi there, see the post on paints and sealers for finishing wood floors. Post on mortar and grout for non toxic tile installation.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Which Armstrong vinyl plank did you test. Do you know of any other LVT brands that are good?
How did your test of Armstrong's Luxury planks turn out?
Decent. Will work for some people.
How do you test porcelain tile for lead and radioactivity? Thanks!
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.
Elizabeth Hirsch says
Is it necessary to test porcelain for heavy metals, or just ceramic tile?
I would test porcelain and ceramic.
Ruvi Samaniego says
Is the only reliable way to test via XRF analysis?
I'm assuming radiant heating under laminate flooring is highly toxic? What is the best alternative for radiant floor heating?
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.
Hi! Which wood resemblant material would you recommend for under heated floor in a house with kids ands pets? Thank you so much for your time!
Kahrs is usually my top pick!
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?
Yes people do react to wool.
I did! Put ig in den to test, had a bad time, so cancelled my master bedroom! Thanks.
Any ideas for a good moisture barrier?
Will add to sheathing/subfloor post soon
C & B says
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.
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.
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?
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/
I have a post on rugs https://www.mychemicalfreehouse.net/2019/09/11-best-non-toxic-natural-rugs.html
Faith Oh! says
Danielle Soler says
How about vocs in porcelain tiles that look like hardwood? A printer digitally scans a photo onto the tile
Linda Kingston says
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.
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?
Im in the same situation also.
What did you end up doing with the flooring?
Ala Uddin says
Phyllis MacLuan says
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.
There isn't a bamboo I would use. It depends on your level of sensitivity.
Due to your sensitivities or concerns over emissions?
Yes. Bamboo is problematic for other reasons but I was thinking offgassing.
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?
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.
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.
Hello is laminate flooring from home depot toxic the one you just lay like a puzzle? Thanks in advance!
I don't know their brands. Look for low VOC brands such as ones with GreenGaurd certification.
Chase Edward says
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.
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.
Chicagoland Pro Hardwood Flooring says
Gorgeous Green Home! Absolutely love the natural look and feel. Very impressed with your knowledge and expertise.
Smith Joe says
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.