It used to be that you could only stick to certain types of flooring if you had bad allergies. Prepare to breathe easier. With recent innovations in technology and global access to a wide range of materials, there are more options in hypoallergenic flooring than ever before. Now you can ensure your spaces are safe and suitable for those who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems.
What are the best choices? Let’s take a look.
Hardwood flooring installation is still one of the most reliable in terms of keeping allergy triggers at bay — as long as you maintain your floors
properly. The imperfections of hardwood that give it its unique looks, texture, and character can also trap allergens. Simple cleaning will help remove them.
The best part of hardwood flooring is how easy it is to wipe away any spills and drips. As long as you’re cleaning them regularly with a broom and dry mop, these floors are an excellent choice for reducing sneezing, runny noses, and itchy eyes.
There’s an even better option available: bamboo. Bamboo’s popularity has boomed in recent years. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to produce and so the prices have stayed reasonable. It comes in old-fashioned planks and modern floating installations. Durability is quite good; with care, bamboo flooring can last for decades.
Bamboo flooring used to be environmentally destructive, as bamboo forests are only located in certain places in the world. Today, American farms grow and maintain bamboo for flooring in controlled environments. In the US, bamboo flooring is most often sourced from American growers, while natural habitats halfway around the world are left undisturbed.
In fact, bamboo only takes three years to fully grow because it’s technically not a wood – it’s a grass! Compare this to trees that take anywhere between 50 and 100 years to grow, and the environmental impact of bamboo is relatively minimal.
Caution: some bamboo is made using formaldehyde, so ask for an emission-free bamboo.
Folks don’t often think of cork as a hypoallergenic flooring alternative. You should! Cork tiles are made without killing the tree – bark is pulled from cork oak trees without damaging them. The tree itself renews the bark regularly. Cork’s chief advantage over bamboo is that it resists moisture better, which is great for those susceptible to mold and mildew. However, while cork is durable, but doesn’t quite have the lifespan of bamboo.
One of the best parts of cork is that it can be made to emulate a number of natural wood looks, or even particular designer colors. It also helps insulate a house and can have a soundproofing effect that’s even better than insulated hardwood.
Tile flooring is still one of the best hypoallergenic flooring choices. Certain types like ceramic and porcelain go through a glazing process during production that makes them resistant to trapping allergens. Yet even if you choose a different tile choice, most options won’t accumulate allergens quickly and are easy to clean. Tile is enduring and, depending on the type you choose, can last for decades at the very least.
Grout in between tiles can accumulate allergens more quickly, so make sure you use an emission-free sealer on it.
Marmoleum is also called natural linoleum. This isn’t the linoleum of yesteryear, but rather a modern alternative that’s made from pulverized wood, flax oil, and linseed oil. The combination makes a surprisingly durable floor, rated at about 30 years, and one that resists the buildup of allergens.
Sometimes a space just feels best with carpeting. Traditionally, carpet has been the arch-nemesis of the allergy sufferer. Its fibers can trap a whole host of allergens and microbes. There are new materials and construction methods being used that allow for hypoallergenic carpeting that rejects microbe build-up. It can be a little pricey, but it’s well worth the investment if you want a carpeted space that’s also allergen free.
Carpet made from natural fibers such as jute, wool, and cotton also make a good choice, but are usually best as accents for a hardwood or tile floor. Entire spaces that use natural fibers can still trap dust and allergens.
Whatever your carpeting choice, a deep clean should be done at least once a year in order to dig up anything that’s been ground more deeply into the carpet. And, of course, add vacuuming to your list of weekly chores.
While it’s not typically the first choice in many residences, there are spaces in some homes for which cement is suitable — and beautiful. Cement can be sealed so that nothing gets into the cracks. It’s easy to clean, though it won’t insulate nearly as well as the other choices listed here.
Discuss the many options with a trusted South Florida flooring contractor. Don’t just make a hypoallergenic choice without talking about installation, finishes, and sealers. If you communicate your specific needs to your contractor, they can point out additional elements that will help keep your home allergen free — and that can reduce emissions, including those from formaldehyde treated materials or those that contain VOCs.
This can help keep your home in the best possible shape for allergy sufferers and those with breathing difficulties for years to come. The goal isn’t just to make your home hypoallergenic today, but to make it easy for you to keep it that way for years on end.