Going Green with Low VOC Flooring: What You Need to Know

Going Green with Low VOC Flooring: What You Need to Know


For those wishing to reduce toxins in their homes, finding low VOC flooring options is one easy solution. The good news is that there are numerous sustainable building materials available today to help you create an eco-friendly and healthy living space. From bamboo flooring to cork tiles, these natural products have the added benefit of being both beautiful and affordable. In this post, we’ll explore all the different types of low VOC flooring available and their benefits. So keep reading to learn more!

What Does VOC Mean?

The term "VOC" stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These compounds are found in everyday materials such as cleaning products, paints, aerosol sprays, and so on, and contain harmful molecules that easily become airborne through evaporation. It is important to purchase products with low VOC levels as high levels can lead to numerous health risks including headaches and nausea. Taking into account VOC levels when making a purchase can go a long way toward protecting both your personal health and the health of your household.
Trace amounts of VOCs do not usually have a significant negative impact on us since they dissolve quickly. So the harmful vapor from a single object will have little effect on the air quality of a space. However, when we're talking about an entire room's flooring then products emitting VOCs have a noticeable impact on indoor air quality.

The Effects of VOCs on Your Health

VOCs may be emitted quickly or over time and cause a variety of reactions including:

  • Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat

  • Headaches, vertigo, and nausea

  • Damage to the nervous system, liver, and kidneys
  • Certain VOCs are thought to lead to cancer in animals, while others are suspected of causing cancer in humans

  • The effect on your health is determined by the degree and duration of the exposure.

What to Consider about Volatile Organic Compounds When Flooring

VOCs may be found on practically all kinds of surfaces and flooring is no exception. Even natural surfaces, such as many varieties of wood floors, are not always considered low VOC flooring options. This is due to the fact that VOCs may be found in glues, stains, and finishes. All of which are typically used in a wide range of products and materials. Even the finest engineered hardwood flooring needs adhesives to hold its layers together!

Thus, whether it's ash flooring, ebony flooring, or that new water-resistant hardwood flooring for your kitchen, you'll want to know the final makeup of your flooring.

What to Keep in Mind When Looking for Low VOC Flooring

  • Choose solid wood choices that need little to no chemical finishing such as Douglas fir flooring or teak flooring. Keep in mind that the most durable varieties of wooden flooring typically don't need a lot of additional treatment.

  • Seek products that have been barely processed. Natural cork sheets, for example, may be found with very minimal chemical treatment.

  • Consider some environmentally friendly wood flooring alternatives such as reclaimed wood. You won’t need much finish to bring out the inherent beauty of high-quality sustainable woods.

  • Since engineered hardwood requires adhesives to bond its layers, it generally contains more VOCs than solid hardwood. That is without a doubt one of the most significant downsides of artificial wood. Yes, the cost of installing engineered wood floors may be less than that of solid wood flooring, but it is a decision you must weigh for yourself taking everything into account.

  • Look for a product that can be installed without the need for glue (like a click-lock floating floor).

  • You might also look at unconventional materials such as hemp floors or concrete flooring that resembles wood in appearance.

  • Linoleum is also a non-toxic sustainable flooring choice since it is manufactured from natural ingredients.

  • Specialized waterproof faux wood floors may be ideal for mudroom and bathroom flooring, but they are not necessarily guaranteed to be VOC-free.

Choices for Low VOC Flooring Finishes

Even if you pick an ecologically friendly flooring option, the final finish might create health problems. Hence, before you paint the final layer on your flooring, check for water-based top coat options. Although they may be somewhat more costly at times, they are better for your health.

Natural oil and hard-wax oil finishes derived from flaxseed, linseed, tung tree nuts, and even vegetable oil are excellent and free of contaminants.

Low VOC Carpeting

Low VOC carpets are a great option if you’re looking for a flooring material that has fewer environmental concerns than traditional carpets. These carpets have very low emissions of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds that have been linked to respiratory diseases, as well as to certain types of cancer. Some materials used in low VOC carpeting include wool, olefin, sisal, jute, and natural rubber. Each of these materials offers numerous benefits including strength, durability, cost-effectiveness, comfort, and sustainability.

In conclusion, low VOC flooring is a crucial step in going green and taking care of our planet. Not only does it mean fewer airborne toxins are entering the atmosphere, but it also helps to create a healthier environment for both ourselves and our families. Together we can make a real difference in reducing carbon emissions, protecting the environment, and preserving our planet for future generations.