Best types of floors for those with allergies or asthma

flooring best for allergies - best type of flooring for asthmaIf you or your kids have allergies or asthma, selecting the best type of flooring can have a big impact on the air quality, as many allergens can collect and get trapped in the floors.  Often, the flooring can be the biggest source of allergens. 

 

As a general rule, carpeting is the worst choice for allergies while wood or cork flooring are the best selections.  And, generally hard surfaces will be better options than carpet.

 

Reasons to avoid carpets if you have allergies

Allergy sufferers should avoid the deep pile of most carpets as these tend to hold allergens from dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, as well as dirt. Carpeting can also retain moisture, which encourages the growth of mold and mildew.

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Some dispute the negative relationship of carpeting to allergies, but there is no doubt that it holds more dust, dirt and moisture than any other kind of flooring, making it an ideal environment for dust mites.

If you have carpet, or area rugs (or are required to have carpet), low pile (including looped carpets) are better options and so are natural fiber carpets such as wool or sisal.  And, if you do have carpet, vacuum frequently.  There are also hypoallergenic and low VOC carpet padding (such as felt or Shaw’s Triple Touch Carpet padding) which tend to be better for allergies or asthma.  But, hardwood or cork (or other hard surfaces) are generally much better options.

 

Hardwood and Cork are the best flooring options for allergy sufferers

hardwood flooring best for allergiesHardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring is an excellent choice for those with asthma or allergies since it’s easy to clean and maintain.  It’s the preferred flooring surface for homes in Westchester County and the East Coast.  Unlike carpet, hardwood doesn’t trap allergens nor does it provide an environment for them to grow.

Cork flooring

Cork floors are a wonderful alternative to hardwood.  They are inherently mold and mildew resistant due to the antimicrobial presence of suberin.  This naturally occurring substance inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria and other allergens.  Cork also helps insulate heat, so they are warm on your feet and they are cozy on your feet. The hard surface makcork flooring good for allergieses it easy to clean with a dust mop (ideally a swiffer).  Even though cork is porous, the finish prevents allergens from collecting and growing.

And, cork flooring does not require a plywood subfloor, so they provide a great alternative if you have a concrete subfloor in an apartment or lower level of you house.  Most cork floors, though, are floating, so it’s important that your subfloor is level/even, otherwise you may need to smooth and/or level out the floors prior to installing cork.  Cork is also an eco-friendly product.  You can read more about cork here – Cork flooring – how is it made and why is it considered green?

 

Tile and Linoleum are also suitable surfaces for those with allergies

While hardwood and cork are generally the best options for those with asthma and allergies, stone or tile flooring, as well as linoleum are also great options.  The tile and linoleum are better options for wet and moist areas such as bathrooms and mudrooms.
 

Porcelain and Ceramic Tile

tile flooring good for allergiesStone, porcelain and ceramic tiles are also great choices for allergy-free flooring, but the more rough the stone surface, the more dirt they will hold.

Not all tile flooring is allergy friendly. As a general rule, smooth stone will be much less likely to harbor allergens than a tile that is porous or has rough edges or is highly textured.. Polished marble and granite are excellent choices (for those with allergies), but natural-looking stone with a textured finishes and uneven surfaces can provide pockets for mold and other allergens to collect and develop.

With natural stone, it’s important to seal it to prevent mold and bacteria from growing) and for all types of tile (natural stone, porcelain and ceramic), it’s important to seal the grout, and reseal it, ideally every 1-2 years.

Linoleum

Linoleum flooring good for asthmaLinoleum is also a natural product that also is a good option for those with allergies or asthma.  It’s easy to clean and holds up well to water.  Unlike vinyl, which is petroleum based, linoleum is made with linseed oil and it’s eco-friendly.   You can read more about it here – What’s the difference between linoleum and vinyl?

 

Laminate and vinyl are alternative flooring options for those with asthma or allergies

Laminate and vinyl are alternative synthetic options.  As they are synthetic products (vs. hardwood or cork which are natural), they may tend to cause other issues, especially with cheaper options.  If you opt for a laminate or vinyl product, try to select an option that has low VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) and be cognizant of the adhesive used.

Laminate flooring

Laminate flooring may or may not be a good choice for those with allergies – it can depend on the manufacturer and the grade of product.  Laminate uses recycled hardwood and the product is manufactured by gluing together layers of wood composite.  The adhesives used in the process may contain formaldehyde as well as other dangerous VOCs, and these can trigger other allergies – sometimes immediately, and other times over time.  Always check the product to see the formaldehyde rating (E1 or E0 are the best choices).  Nonetheless, laminate provides a hard surface that is easy to clean and like hardwood, it doesn’t harbor dust or dander.

Vinyl

Luxury vinyl Westchester Van GoghSimilar to cork flooring, some high-end vinyl floors (often called luxury vinyl) can offer the advantages of a hard surface – easy to clean, no pockets for moisture – and many have an antibacterial agent built into them.  However, especially when it comes to vinyl, you “get what you pay for,” and lower end vinyl flooring is often manufactured with VOC’s which create emissions and hence an allergen risk or other breathing challenges.

 

This doesn’t mean that vinyl, (or laminates) should be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, these are durable, cost-effective products that tend to be far better for allergies than carpet; it’s just important that you research the products and select higher end options rather than cheaper alternatives.

 

Additional information for allergy or asthma sufferers

For more advice on remodeling for those with allergies or asthma, check out this site: asthma and allergy foundation of america.

 

Summary of best flooring options for those with allergies or asthma

Best options:

  • Hardwood
  • Cork flooring

Next best options:

  • Tile flooring (stone, porcelain, ceramic
  • Linoleum flooring

Other suitable options but be wary of quality

  • Laminate flooring
  • Vinyl flooring (luxury vinyl is better than sheet vinyl or VCT)

flooring that's good for allergies or asthmaRegardless of which flooring surface you use, it’s important to keep the floors clean.  Even solid hardwood (which is often the best choice), can result in sneezes (as well as scratches) if you don’t keep it clean.  Thankfully, dust that has settled on hardwood is far easier to wipe away (or swiffer away) than dirt that has settled into the carpet (here are some cleaning products we recommend).  It’s also wise to stay away from lower end products as those tend to have more chemicals and fumes.  There are so many flooring options available, so don’t feel limited just because you have allergies or asthma.

 

I hope this info is helpful. If you are in the Westchester NY area, feel free to give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950. (for out of state customers, please call 914-408-3899).
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Complementary products that will prolong the life of your hardwood floors


 

 

To help the rest of our loyal fans across the country and Canada, we’ve teamed up with FastFloors.com so that you can purchase your floors and have them directly shipped to you.

Hardwood, Cork, Bamboo Flooring Up-to 70% Off! www.fastfloors.com

Here are the particular brands that we recommend:

Hardwood Flooring:

  • Somerset
  • US Floors Navarre Line – for oiled floors
  • Armstrong
  • Anderson
  • Ark
  • Mercier

Cork Flooring:

  • US Floors
  • WeCork
  • Globus Cork
  • Wicanders

 

Laminate Floors:

  • Stepco
  • Columbia
  • Quick Step
  • Pergo

Vinyl and Linoleum:

  • Coretec Plus from US Floors for clickable luxury vinyl…Use the original Coretec Plus or the upgraded Coretec Plus XL. Avoid the inferior Coretec One which does not have a cork backing
  • Amtico – for glue down Luxury vinyl
  • Armstrong
  • Forbo – Linoleum

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TheFlooringGirl

My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties.We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at debbie@TheFlooringGirl.com. Let us "bring the store to your door."If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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8 Response Comments

  • Andrea Lewis  January 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Consider buying an anti-allergenic vacuum cleaner, with a specialized filtration system. HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) filters retain allergy-causing particles, and are great for those suffering from allergies.

    Reply
    • TheFlooringGirl  January 26, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Andrea – Thank you. That is a great recommendation. Super build.

      Reply
  • Andrew Murray  July 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I had gone through your article and many others as i just got my house constructed. Now i am planning for vinyl flooring. Though we are not allergic, but their are few other benefits of vinyl flooring too.
    Loved your piece.. Thanks

    Reply
    • TheFlooringGirl  July 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Andrew – Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. I hope everything works out well for you in your home. Thx for making my day.

      Reply
  • Todd peck  April 4, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve been in the flooring business 46 years. 25 as a carpet/ hard surface installer.
    As far as deep pile carpet, it does need almost daily vacuming to keep dust and soil out of it. How ever, a short dense yarn or tight looped styled carpet will act more like a hard surface when it comes to dust, pollens and soil. Furthermore a tight looped polypropylene carpet is impervious to moisture and is inherently mold proof
    Carpet will also be warmer and acoustically more sound deadening. The cost is usually thirty to fifty percent less.
    My company has been in business 36 years. We sell it all.
    MY PROFESSIONAL OPINION IS CARPET IF ITS THE CORRECT STYLE, IS THE BEST CHIOCE, when it comes to most areas of your home.
    Todd

    Reply
    • TheFlooringGirl  April 10, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Todd – Thanks for your input. Yes, some carpets can work well, and there certainly are advantages to carpet. Carpet works well in some areas of the home. Hardwood is much better in other areas. Over the years, I’ve been seeing a much stronger preference for hardwood over the years.

      Reply

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