Buyer Beware, Salesman Be Knowledgeable

Buyer Beware, Salesman Be Knowledgeable

Questions about chemicals in flooring are now common for the mainstream flooring shopper

FloorScore LogoSomething is changing in the flooring industry. Customers are asking more frequently about what chemicals the products contain.

Though there is no national statistic on what percent of the population has concerns, it is safe to say that 2015 should go down in history as the year mainstream consumers gained noticeable awareness of how flooring can impact indoor-air quality and human health.

It started in March, with the 60 Minutes report that alleged excessive formaldehyde was being emitted from cheap glue used to make some of Lumber Liquidator’s laminate flooring in China. A second wave of concern erupted weeks later when it was announced that The Home Depot would phase-out sales of vinyl flooring that contained ortho-phthalates.

The concern might be out of balance. Reputable, U.S. manufacturers of laminates and engineered hardwoods have been aware of formaldehyde dangers, and most have switched to NAUF (No Added Urea Formaldehyde) adhesives. Likewise, ortho-phthalates – plasticizers used in vinyl flooring – have been reviewed and scrutinized.

What’s striking to me is how quickly the major manufacturers have been addressing these issues.UL Greenguard logo

Just three years ago, only a handful of laminate manufacturers listed in the Natural Interiors® Scorecard database had a third-party indoor-air quality certification like FloorScore or GREENGUARD.  This type of testing is done on the finished product, not just materials used in making it. Today, 60 percent have certification on their finished products, and 90 percent have CARB 2 certificates for the wood composite products that go into their products.

Similarly, about two years ago, there were only a few vinyl manufacturers making phthalate-free vinyl flooring. Today, all of the vinyl flooring manufacturers in our database have either already stopped using ortho-phthalates, or are on a phase-out schedule to be complete by the end of this year. And 100 percent of them also have FloorScore, GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold, which measures phthalates in addition to Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

While the chemicals and certifications are still not everyday language for many in the industry, everyone in the industry should now be aware that the questions will keep coming.  And the customers asking them will need the correct answers before they buy.©

— Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com

To subscribe to the Natural Interiors Scorecard program and get certification and chemical information about any flooring brand click here.

 

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