Products & Certifications

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.

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.

Some are born with Natural knowledge, but most of us have learned from mistakes Sixteen years ago, I let my infant sleep on a plastic mattress filled with foam rubber. I had read the baby books and collaborated with pregnant friends. But nothing and no one pointed out that standard mattresses contain petrochemicals or that these chemicals off-gas for us to breathe and absorb. Even when the baby developed sleep apnea -- and had to sleep wearing a halter monitor and alarm because of a family history of crib death -- I did not question the standard crib mattress I had purchased from my local baby supply store. Truthfully, if someone had told me to raise this question, I probably would have laughed and, privately, considered that person to be a little crazy. Everyone in the United States buys and sleeps on traditional mattresses every day.  If there were something wrong with that, we would all know, right?

Why do you harp on Indoor Air Quality Certifications? Q. If cork flooring is a natural material, why do you put so much emphasis on whether the manufacturer has gotten the flooring certified through chemical emissions testing? A. There are many natural flooring products on the market. But very few of them are made without chemicals and additives. Cork flooring is beautifully natural and sustainable. But it cannot be made without some extra ingredients – like adhesive. After wine bottle stoppers are punched out of the bark of the Cork Oak Trees in and around Portugal, cork that will be made into flooring is ground up, mixed with pigments, and adhesive. Fortunately, cork producers in the Mediterranean region are known for their attention to environmentally sound adhesives and additives. Once the sheets of cork are produced, more materials are introduced. If the cork will be used for engineered flooring, which is made in layers, the core of the floor with be HDF (High Density Fiber Board). And if the flooring – engineered or solid – will be prefinished, anything from a simple water-based polyurethane to a proprietary aluminum oxide or ceramic finish, to a high-tech nano finish, will be applied to the surface.

New looks, including stone, wood and textiles, expand uses for cork flooring What is that? Just when we thought we had seen every style and color of cork flooring available today, Wicanders has thrown us a curve. Some of it looks like stone. Some of it looks like marble, granite, wood and textiles. But it is an illusion, enabled by the latest digital optic technology that embosses these patterns directly onto the cork. “You cannot tell its cork until you touch it,” says Tim Tompkins, national marketing director for Wicanders. “We are able to print these patterns directly on our cork veneers. The texture of the cork veneer beneath it adds more texture and realism to the finished product, and each floor is a fingerprint of itself as no two planks, panels or tiles are identical.  It’s very amazing technology.”

Anderson Township, OH, family completes new home with natural oil hardwood finish and cork When the original plan for putting strand bamboo flooring in the new home they were building in Anderson Township, OH, went awry, Jennifer and Carlton Monroe reviewed their priorities. “I wanted something natural,” Jennifer recalls. “But it also occurred to me that on the first floor, I wanted something that was spot-repairable.” This was the beginning of a selection process that ended with the Monroes putting hardwood – finished on site with a natural, hard-wax oil -- on the first floor, and cork flooring upstairs in the bedrooms and hallway.