A reader contacted us with a question on flooring: “I am trying to avoid using carpet in our new home, partly to avoid smelly adhesives and partly to cut down on dust and mold. Do you have any recommendations?”
We asked Rose Grayson, of Chicago, a licensed architect who is LEED certified and has a special interest in green buildings, for some suggestions. She replied as follows:
- If you install a wood floor, be careful of the varnish. Bioshield is a reputable company that offers environmentally safe paints and less toxic paints, thinners, etc.
- A bamboo floor is relatively inexpensive (compared to other woods), and comes in various colors and finishes. There are a number of manufacturers. Be sure to check that their finish is nontoxic.
- For placing under floors: Homasote 440 Sound Barrier® panels are high-density fiberboard made from 100% recycled wastepaper and a formaldehyde-free paraffin binder. They’re designed to provide sound control as a flooring underlayment and in wall assemblies. Comfort Base™ is similar to SoundBarrier but is specifically designed for use as a “floating” underlayment over a concrete slab. A grooved grid pattern on the bottom side provides ventilation to remove trapped moisture from the slab. See www.homasote.com Homasote recycles more than 250 tons of newsprint per day and has been manufacturing building panels from waste papers since 1909.
- Cork flooring continues to grow in popularity. Check with your local flooring store.
- An alternative to standard carpet is Interface FLOR, a modular carpet that has very low outgassing. It comes in sections and can be washed and cleaned easily, and can stick to wood floors without damaging the surface of the wood or requiring adhesives. FLOR is available online online or at some stores.