When you suffer from environmental allergies, there are a lot of factors that can trigger allergic reactions and hay fever — from pollen to pet dander to mold or second-hand cigarette smoke. There’s little you can do to reduce outside allergens, but inside is another matter entirely. At the end of the day, your home should be a sanctuary for relaxation, free from watery eyes and constant sneezing bursts. Installing new, allergy-reducing flooring in your home could be the perfect solution.
You may even have allergies and not even know it.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) estimates that allergic rhinitis (general nasal allergies) affects 50 million people in the United States, including as many as 30% of adults and up to 40% of children. The symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis occur almost year-round during the spring, summer, and/or early fall with physical signs that cause the sufferer to experience sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes and itching of the nose, eyes or the roof of the mouth. These symptoms are usually caused by a sensitivity to pollens from trees, grasses or weeds, or to airborne mold spores. Other allergens can include house dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches and/or mold spores. While treatment for allergies can include decreasing your exposure to the irritants or allergens that trigger your symptoms and allergy shots or medication, if left untreated, respiratory issues may develop or worsen. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of asthma in the general population continues to grow, with about 1 in 12 people suffering from the condition.
Your home should be a safe place to get away from outside allergens. If you are planning to update the flooring within your home, consider using allergy-friendly options that are also low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
VOCs are organic gases that are released as materials degrade over time and can cause allergic reactions, headaches, and respiratory distress or infections. These problematic gases are found in paint, glue, caulk, cleaning supplies, or formaldehyde. You won’t be able to eliminate these compounds from your environment, but minimizing the negative effects can be achieved by purchasing organic materials, regularly updating household items and, of course, by installing low-VOC flooring during your home renovations.
The most appropriate options for allergy-reducing, low-VOC flooring materials are made from natural fibers with water-based sealants or adhesive.
Hardwood flooring is a classic household look that cleans easily, leaving a dust and hair-free surface. However, many hardwood sealants and finishes contain VOC-emitting formaldehyde and chemicals that could further aggravate your allergies or environmental sensitivities. Presealed hardwood or a water-based polyurethane finishing for your flooring makes for a low-VOC, worry-free fix. Whether you decide on prefinished or engineered hardwood, there are plenty of options to reduce allergens within your home.
Cork flooring is a naturally antimicrobial option due to the presence of suberin, an organic waterproofing compound within the cork that reduces any growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, and other allergens. The surface is easy to maintain, and even though it is a porous material, a specialized finish can prevent allergens from collecting. Cork is also hydrophobic and provides a natural thermal barrier, which makes it a great flooring option for damp or colder areas in the home like the bathroom, kitchen, or basements.
Bamboo flooring offers all the benefits of hard flooring and won’t provide a cozy home for dust mites or pet dander that could aggravate your allergies. Bamboo is also water-resistant and less likely to retain moisture than traditional hardwood flooring. Despite these advantages, knowing the manufacturing process is key. Be sure to check out the manufacturer before purchasing or installing the flooring and verify that any adhesives are also free of VOCs.
Porcelain or ceramic tile flooring is easy to care for and dust accumulation is minimal. For the most effective reduction in allergens, make sure the tile is installed with VOC-fee adhesives and sealants or liquid protectants. As a truly hypoallergenic option, tile is scratch-resistant, fire-proof, and water-resistant and doesn’t absorb dust, fumes, smoke, or any other allergens. It’s a perfect solution for high-traffic areas in the home. When finishing the tile, make sure that the grouting is laid in good condition by an expert to prevent any moisture from seeping beneath the floor and into the subfloor where mold can potentially flourish.
Carpeting may not seem like a wise choice for allergy-suffering households, but nothing can beat the feeling of soft, plush carpet beneath your feet. The benefits of noise reduction and further insulating your home also can’t be beat! The perception about carpeting causing allergies to worsen is simply a myth — according to a 15-year Swedish study, there was no link found between carpet and allergy and asthma attacks. If there are concerns about the carpeting trapping allergens, a quality vacuum with a HEPA-filter will keep your carpets looking fresh and minimize your allergic reactions. Having allergies and a household with pets can wreak havoc on your sinuses, but that’s where DuPont’s Sorona carpet comes in. The fiber in this specialty carpet uses no extra chemical treatments for stain treatment, meaning less of the dreaded VOCs than any other carpet type. Sorona carpeting is also both extremely durable and stain-resistant, making it ideal for a home with pets.
At Carpets In The Park, we provide full-service flooring solutions for hardwood, laminate and tile flooring in addition to carpeting. From projects in your home to commercial flooring installations, our high-quality products and installation services will have you happily satisfied — without breaking the bank or triggering your allergies.
Image Credit: Allan Foster, Flickr