July 11, 2019
Choosing the type of flooring in your home can be quite a daunting task. There are so many factors you need to be thinking about before committing – will it match my home? Is it easy to maintain? Can I afford it?
A very important factor that often slides under the radar is compatibility with your family’s health. You need to consider how your flooring will affect any family members with allergies or asthma.
It can be quite an overwhelming decision to make, especially when there are so many different types of flooring to choose from.
Here is a breakdown on what types of flooring trigger allergies or asthma and what the most suitable type of flooring is for you:
Unfortunately, there is no escaping the nasties that collect and get trapped within your flooring but there are ways to reduce their effect. Here are some triggers and the types of flooring they harbour in:
- Dust mites – commonly found in every home, the dust mite is one of the leading allergen sources within Australian households. It is not the actual dust mite that causes an allergic reaction but rather their droppings, when airborne, can be very bothersome. Typically found in carpet type flooring.
- Mould/bacteria – usually forms in damp areas around the house such as bathrooms, fridges and parts of the house with low air circulation and are the main causes of triggering asthma. Mould can be found on growing on damp carpets or damp timber floorings.
- Pet fur/dander – found on anything and everything in the household, pet fur and dander spreads like wildfire. Pet allergens will cling to any flooring type especially carpet and will require regular vacuuming.
- Dust/Pollen – when airborne, can be the most potent allergen trigger in your house. No matter the flooring type, if not maintained, dust and pollen can build up and cause quite a commotion.
What flooring type is best suited for me?
Carpet is usually the least recommended for any asthma or allergy sufferers but thanks to modern innovations there are now various types of carpets available that break common misconceptions.
- Nylon carpets are a man-made fibre that resists dirt, moisture and mildew which makes it very easy to clean and remove irritants from. Choosing a low pile height or short cut fibre makes it a great flooring option if you have asthma or allergies.
- Natural carpets can include wool, seagrass and sisal and is the most recommended carpet flooring for any allergy and asthma sufferers. The carpet fibres utilize a coil-like shape which causes any moisture to dissipate, traps any allergens and prevents them from becoming airborne, and is resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew.
- Hardwood flooring is highly recommended for any allergy or asthma sufferers as it does not trap or provide an environment for allergens to gather in. The only downside is the high cost and maintenance of timber flooring, but very easy to clean.
- Cork flooring is a cheaper alternative to hardwood and is also an excellent option to negate allergens. Being antimicrobial, cork flooring is resistant to mold, mildew and bacteria. You may just want to consider VOC’s due to the amount of glue and adhesives used. Cork is also extremely easy to clean being a hard type of flooring.
Tiles, just like hardwood flooring, is an excellent choice when it comes to reducing the number of allergens in your home. As a hard surface floor type, it gives very little room for allergens to harbour in providing you have chosen a smoother stone finish.
Allergens can still get caught in rough edges, high textures or deep grouts. It is important that your tiles are resealed every 1-2 years to prevent any mold of bacteria from growing.
- Linoleum is a natural type of flooring made from linseed oil and other natural resources making it eco-friendly and a good option to combat allergies and asthma.
- Laminate flooring may seem like a good choice but due to the way its manufactured can actually be detrimental. Laminate is made from recycled wood composites that have been glued together and can contain high VOC levels which can trigger allergies and asthma. It is always a good idea to ask your representative on choosing options with low VOC levels.
- Vinyl is similar to cork flooring; it is a type of hard surface flooring that is easy to clean, maintain and is a great option for anti-allergies and asthma. However, the rule is ‘you get what you pay for’, lower end vinyl tend to use cheaper adhesives and glue which can cause greater VOC emissions. Just like laminate, it is always a good idea to ask the professionals for options with low VOC levels.
Beware of VOC
When going through your options, ask the right questions about the glue and adhesives used to lay out the flooring and carpet underlay options as well. Volatile Organic Compounds is an off-gas produced by man-made adhesives or glues that are used in carpets or timber flooring whereby the compound begins to evaporate and emits this irritant gas.
Luckily for us, you can purchase hypoallergenic carpet underlays that are moisture resistant, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal. There are also low VOC options available when it comes to adhesives and glue.
If you’re allergic or sensitive to any of the triggers mentioned above, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Itchy, runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Scratchy, dry irritated throat
- Coughing, trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Hives, itchy, red skin
- Feeling of pressure in the chest
Tips to manage allergies
If your allergies stem from the material of your flooring it might be more beneficial to consider a replacement. If it’s an allergic reaction to inhabitants hiding in your carpet, allergy-proofing your home with these simple tips should help curve your symptoms.
- Vacuum the carpet using a high powered vacuum with a HEPA filter at least once a week. HEPA filters help remove and trap allergens so they don’t get recirculated back into the air.
- If you’re a pet owner with a pet that drops a lot of fur, make sure your vacuum is designed to pick up pet hair.
- Perth is known for its humidity. It also creates the perfect habitat for dust mites and mould. Reduce the humidity in your home to reduce their growth.
- Have your carpets steam cleaned several times throughout the year. Ensure there is enough air circulating to let them dry.
- If you detect the carpet as the sole perpetrator, consider other flooring options that are easier to clean and don’t trap pollutants, such as vinyl, hard wood or tiles.
- Keep all windows closed during allergy seasons and on days where pollen levels are high.
- Seek out medical advice on ways to treat allergy symptoms.
- Clean your air conditioner filters on a regular basis.
Time to reach out
Choosing the right type of flooring for your home is vital to your family’s health and wellbeing.
It is a good idea to identify which floor type is going to be beneficial and allergy friendly at the beginning as it can be quite costly to change in the future.
With so many options available it can be quite overwhelming so if in doubt always contact the professionals who can find the best-suited option for both aesthetics and your needs.