flooring Tag

National standard for composite wood products and products that contain them goes into effect June 1, 2018 Three years have passed since complaints erupted on 60 Minutes about excessive amounts of formaldehyde emitted by some laminate flooring products that were sold by Lumber Liquidators. 60 Minutes reported that some of these products did not comply with California Air Resources Board Phase II (CARB II) limits for formaldehyde, which only applied in the state of California. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it was working on making CARB II limits a national standard that would close a gap in the existing rule: Instead of applying only to composite wood products, it also would regulate finished products that contain composite wood products.

Couple chooses chemical-free carpet, dustless sanding and low-VOC finishes for 1960’s ranch makeover, and gets it all done between closing and move-in. The hardwood floor in the living room and front hall had been refinished. They were welcoming upon walking through the front door of the ranch home Pam and her husband, Jim, were buying in a Cincinnati neighborhood. The spacious kitchen, with an older tile floor, also was inviting. But the great room, back hall and three bedrooms were covered with worn carpet and ready for an update. Pam had a plan to pull it all together into a cohesive, flowing look. But like most people who contact the Natural Interiors® program, she had specific requirements: Any new carpet preferably would be made of natural fibers, and it would be free of stain-proofing chemicals. Any floor finishes or paint would be as low-VOC as possible for the application. “I wanted help finding products and properly vetting them for chemicals of concern and hazardous air pollutants,” Pam said. “I wasn’t being a purist. I just wanted to take all reasonable steps to minimize possible toxins.”

Temperature changes of winter and summer should remind you to get a hygrometer, even if you don't have hardwood floors DSC_0568Colder temperatures usually mean drier air – inside and outside. That’s why hardwood flooring manufacturers issue written guidelines that the owner must keep indoor relative humidity levels between 39 and 60 percent. When humidity drops too low, the floor with shrink. Too high, it will expand and cup. But most people have no idea what their indoor humidity levels are at any given moment. And there are more reasons to know than just for maintaining your flooring’s health. It is important for your own health, too.

Indo Teak flooring is durable and planet-friendly, but also serves as a tribute to the travels of St. Xavier DSC_0297Don’t be misled by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification that comes with this Teak flooring. It does not mean the wood came from a sustainably managed forest. Instead, it comes from deconstructed structures in Indonesia – some up to 300 years old. And it has proven  to  be the perfect look for the northern foyer at St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati.  Church administrators' desire for sustainable products and durability was a key reason Architects Paul Duffy and Adam Luginbill  at glaserworks selected it.

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.

Confusion and half-truths follow report of excessive formaldehyde in some Lumber Liquidators’ laminate floors Carb II CompliantA customer who has seen the 60 Minutes report about unhealthful levels of formaldehyde in certain laminate floors from Lumber Liquidators now is questioning a flooring purchase she was about to make. “No worries,” her salesman says. “All of our flooring meets California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards for formaldehyde.”  He is misleading, but not intentionally. To assist its salespeople, a national retail group issues an alert to its members that reads: “All of our laminate flooring meets CARB 2 standards.”  Another over-simplification. Most flooring retailers – including those touting “natural” products – have limited understanding of how to gauge a floor’s impact on indoor-air quality. Understanding the evolution of people-friendly products, and keeping up with the ever-changing status of which manufacturer has added a certification and what the certification means, is a specialized field of its own. Compounding the confusion, certifications expire annually.

Cork, hardwood, tile and wool carpet – installed in five days and looking great seven weeks later

As should be done with all new construction projects, moisture levels were monitored for weeks before the hardwood flooring installation began. After acclimating the boxes of flooring on-site for three days, the transformation began. It took five days:

004032 All of the wood meets CARB 2 standards for formaldehyde emissions. The brown, grey and travertine-look cork flooring meet GREENGUARD Gold.

Are you relying on retailers who are “being green,” or screaming green? Each time a regional publication distributes its annual “Green Issue,” loaded with “green” business advertising, I am naturally reminded that some retailers still don’t get it. Particularly when it comes to environmental flooring and interior products. Their advertising messages scream that they are “green” because of such things as selling recyclable nylon carpet, other products from manufacturers who meet their own “environmental stewardship standards,” or they sell cork, bamboo and linoleum. Much like 10 years ago when the “green” interior product market started getting attention, these businesses still view “green” as a specialty market that is of interest to a small percentage of customers and, therefore, requires occasional advertising but little in-depth knowledge or understanding. This theory ignores market research that shows more consumers are seeking healthful products, in addition to an increase in the U.S. green building market from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012, with expectations that it will exceed $200 billion by 2016.

Demand will mean more product selection, but can your retailer tell you what standards a product meets? Even if you are not consciously seeking people- or planet- friendly products, it’s more likely in 2013 that the product you buy will have some environmental advantage -- particularly if it’s a building or interior finishing product. The U.S. green building market has grown from $10 billion in 2005 to an estimated $85 billion in 2012, with expectations that it will exceed $200 billion by 2016, according to a recently published analysis by Environmental Building News. The top motivators behind this movement? Health-related factors including indoor-air quality, in addition to energy use reduction, according to U.S. and global surveys. Not building a new home? These findings still affect you.