Products & Certifications

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.”

Demand is growing, and it’s readily available at a flooring store near you It’s a fact: Reclaimed hardwood is now mainstream. You don’t have to search it out through a specialty retailer. Just ask Ben Cochran, whose northwest Virginia company has been making floors from deconstructed buildings since 1978. “Everything we use in our reclaimed products is structurally salvaged from barns, factories and other buildings that are being removed to make way for new developments,” says Cochran, outside sales manager for the company his father started. “It’s been that way for more than 25 years.” Cochran Lumber’s flooring is one of four reclaimed flooring brands that are readily available through many hardwood flooring companies.

Flooring industry takes steps that recognize that consumers want products that are Better for People “I don’t really think most flooring customers really care about green,” a rep for a large hardwood manufacturer tells me. “The planet just isn’t a priority to them, particularly if an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) -certified  label  on the product is going to cost more.” I have to ask: “Do you think they care about the other part of green – the indoor-air friendly, low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), better for human health part?” “Absolutely,” he says without hesitation. “That is coming up all the time now.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was accurate as of the date it was published, and was signed off on by all of the manufacturer sources quoted. That said, manufacturers frequently change their formulations and ingredients, so this article, given its age, becomes background. DO NOT rely on this article for purchasing these manufacturers’ current products. The questions are relatively simple, but if you would like help in getting guaranteed answers about certifications on a current product, sign up at: https://www.naturalinteriors.com/consumer-subscription/ Indoor Air Quality Certifications offer some, but not complete, assurance about vinyl flooring Q. While I am intrigued by natural, linoleum products, my budget is more inclined toward the Naturcor vinyl flooring I am looking at buying from my local flooring dealer. I also am concerned about buying a product that does not emit excessive chemicals, and I have been warned about dioxin, which is a carcinogen, by another blogger. Still, I have seen some vinyl brands advertise that they are green.  What is the truth about vinyl? A. The truth about vinyl – or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – is that it isn’t the preferred product of environmentalists or most green product enthusiasts.  But dioxin is an end-of-product life or house fire issue, because it is released when PVC is incinerated.

Do synthetic backings on natural carpeting defeat the purpose? Q. I have been looking into wool carpeting because wool is a natural fiber that does not emit chemicals.  But I am learning that most wool carpets have plastics and other synthetics in the backings, and they also are treated with moth proofing agents, which many experts have told me is unnecessary.  Does this negate the indoor-air friendly and planet-friendly aspects of natural wool carpeting? A. All discussions about “green” products involve levels or degrees of greenness. That said, the answer to your question is yes – to some extent. Because it is not made from petrochemicals, the wool fiber in the carpet will be far more indoor-air friendly than traditional synthetic fibers, despite the use of synthetic backings like polypropylene. Keep in mind that there are products like Nature’s Carpet “Dark Green” line that offer New Zealand and British Wool carpets with no chemical treatments and natural jute backings. Not only does this eliminate any concern you have about chemical emissions, but leads into the second point you’ve raised about planet-friendly aspects.

As Green Squared joins a long list of “green” certifications in the marketplace, some flooring companies are planning to make product certifications readily available We once said what could be more natural and less toxic than a tile floor? It is baked dirt, after all, fired at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  Surely, this heat would burn off organics present in clay or binders, resulting in a product that emits no VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Well, as with all green interior products these days, more and more people are saying, “prove it.” That’s why there is an indoor-air quality certification requirement within the Green Squared Certification, an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard that recently has gone into use for tile manufacturers. “The concern is anything added to the product after firing,” says Ryan Marino, standards development officer for the Tile Council of North America.

FSC is the top indicator of sustainable harvesting, but it’s hard to find on a finished flooring product Forest  Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification.  It is synonymous with wood that meets the most rigorous standards of sustainable harvesting. It remains the only certification the U.S. Green Building Council will use for certified wood in the latest version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and it is lauded for everything from protecting forests to keeping toxic chemicals out of our groundwater. But aside from a few, higher-end hardwood floors like DuChateau or USFloors Navarre, you won’t find the FSC-certified label on standard, finished hardwood flooring products – even those from manufacturers that have FSC-certified factories.  The chain of custody documentation, from the forest to the distributor, required by FSC is costly, and in some cases, logistically impossible. “We sell though a large number of independent distributors like Wanke Cascade,” says Ron Gade, western regional sales manager for Columbia and Century Flooring. “We see it as difficult to obtain FSC certification for this group of distributors.”

Natural oil that bonds gets thumbs up  The oil hardwood flooring finish we are testing in this blog works differently than those we’ve already shown you. It does not soak into the wood like the others. Instead, it forms a molecular bond with the first microns of the wood surface. It is spot-repairable like the others, but that works differently, too. Only the scratch or abraded area will bond with the oil when it is spread over the damaged area. After 10 minutes, you just wipe away the excess, and you are done.

Experience and training of flooring installation crew should never be a question mark for consumers We talk about product quality. We talk about price, which in today’s economy means we bypass some higher-quality products. But except in the instance of installing Marmoleum from Forbo, we have not talked much about installer training. States like Oregon that have mandatory contractor licensing, which means continuing education credits that include some training in flooring installation, might tout their efforts to protect consumers. Some manufacturers, like Forbo, also require that their sheet products be installed by a contractor the company has certified in order for the product warranty to be valid. But flooring distributors – that stock and supply products to flooring dealers – and the dealers themselves are not doing a reputable job unless they routinely provide training for flooring installers, says Victoria Haugen, marketing manager for Wanke Cascade, a Forbo distributor, headquartered in Portland, OR.