More Vinyl Goes Phthalate-Free

More Vinyl Goes Phthalate-Free

DuChateau strives for vinyl flooring that is better for people and planet

More mainstream flooring manufacturers are paying attention to the growing controversy over phthalates – a plasticizer – in vinyl flooring, even though studies suggesting a link between phthalates and lowered IQ, endocrine problems and respiratory ailments have been dismissed as independent and fringe.

DuChateau Floors is now making vinyl without phthalates, though the product’s backing, made using recycled content, still may contain trace amounts because old product is recycled by the company.

This switch by DuChateau follows the introduction by competitor Tarkett of its “phthalate-free except for recycled content” vinyl flooring earlier this year.

“Only a very small portion of phthalate-containing plasticizer can be detected from the recycled bottom layer,” says Don Bufalini, western regional sales manager for DuChateau Floors.  “The tile should not really be affected by the phthalates if they are in the bottom layer.”

Phthalates are not a volatile organic compound (VOC), so they are not measured by FloorScore Indoor Air Quality Certification, which DuChateau has. This test measures 38 VOCs in accordance with limits set by California specification 01350. GREENGUARD Children & Schools Indoor Air Quality Certification is more stringent, and does test for phthalates.

Wanke Cascade distribution, based in Portland, OR, has begun distributing DuChateau vinyl, following about two years of distributing DuChateau’s Forest Steward Council (FSC)-certified hardwood.

“Many of the vinyl looks are that of hardwood patterns, but the vinyl is a bigger draw for customers who need something more economical or suited to site or maintenance conditions that don’t lend themselves to hardwood,” says Victoria Haugen, marketing director for Wanke Cascade. “It’s our expectation that DuChateau’s vinyl, like its hardwood, is top-notch.”

The “green” building community has traditionally been leery of vinyl products, not just because of phthalates, but also carcinogenic dioxins that can be released in manufacturing the product or if the product catches on fire.

DuChateau, which has a US sales office in San Diego, expects its product to qualify it for recycled content credit, in addition to low-emitting materials credit, under the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system.©

  • Sue
    Posted at 15:21h, 12 October Reply

    Hi Nancy,

    Toward the end of this article you note that the production of vinyl can have some pretty serious consequences for human health and the environment. I could not tell from what you said, though, whether the production of this special new vinyl does or does not release dioxin. Can you clarify? Also, there are lots of problems for indoor air quality associated with vinyl besides pthalates… for example lead, cadmium, organotins and more – are those also being eliminated?

    It is great for companies to try to make their products less toxic, but “less toxic” in the case of PVC is still likely to be “too toxic” for me.


    • Nancy Kibbee
      Posted at 09:48h, 13 October Reply


      You are correct about dioxin. I agree that like many serious and knowledgeable “green” consumers, you are not a vinyl customer. Thanks for sharing additional information.

  • Ingrid
    Posted at 09:41h, 18 June Reply

    Hi Nancy: I am looking at duChateau vinyl flooring. Reading Sue’s questions has made me nervous. I’m not a neurotic environmentalist but I don’t want to be breathing toxins. But then I wonder are laminate or carpet choices any better?

    • Nancy Kibbee
      Posted at 10:10h, 18 June Reply

      Ingrid, DuChateau vinyl does not contain phthalates in the wear layer. As for the rest, vinyl is not favored by those seeking products that contain no potentially toxic substances. Nor can you say a specific category, such as laminate or carpet is better. The way we do it is to examine the people and planet friendly attributes of a specific brand. You can find products in every category that have third-party indoor air quality certifications. All of the Carpetland stores around greater Cincinnati have Natural Interiors scorecards that show these attributes for every product they carry. If you are outside the area, feel free to run a brand by me and I will let you know.

  • Ingrid
    Posted at 18:59h, 18 June Reply

    You are awesome!! The product is DuChateau Floors Vinyl Deluxe and the color is Arctic. The store that has the product is Simmons Flooring in Denton Texas. They try to carry product with low VOC. Thank you so much. Ingrid

  • Frances Guerrero
    Posted at 11:31h, 10 April Reply

    Product quality was not as promised. The flooring was supposed to be scratch resistant and excellent for use in high traffic areas. Which is why we purchased it. We installed it in our kitchen, living room, bedroom and hallway. A certified Du Chateau installer was used as required for the warranty coverage.
    In a short time we started noticing deep scratches in multiple areas (and we don’t even have children or pets to blame)! Du Chateau sent out a representative who was mystified about the scratches and he agreed that it was unusual to see that type of damage. He took one of our planks back to corporate for analysis. They concluded that our claim had no merit due to the fact that they couldn’t replicate our scratches. They refused to do anything to resolve our issue. They stated that of the thousands of square feet that they have installed, “this is the first time they have seen this problem”. If this is how a company deals with their first claim ever, I wonder what they will tell the next victim of this inferior product warranty?

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