Laminate Flooring: A Carpet Alternative or Home Hazard?

While laminate flooring may be the answer to ridding your house of carpet, we must warn you to proceed with caution.

If you’ve ever decided to replace your carpet with alternative flooring, you may have considered your options and found laminate to be at the top of your list. The cost is typically less than hardwood, and you can get the same look and feel. And as you may have no interest in needing to sand your floor someday, laminate may seem like a logical choice for your home.

But wait!

Laminate can contain a high level of VOCs (volatile organic contaminants)—in other words, environmental toxins that are carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents. We know … it seems everywhere you turn, there’s a warning to heed.

But the truth is that laminate flooring can have high amounts of formaldehyde, making it toxic during the “gassing off” stage. If you have carpet in your house, the gassing can last even longer, since the carpet will absorb it and hold it for up to eight years.

So when choosing a laminate floor, you must ask: What is the emission level of the formaldehyde? If the person you ask doesn’t know, tell them to check the safety sheet on the product. The World Health Organization suggests the cap be at 0.042 ppm, and laminate flooring can gas off amounts higher than 0.1 ppm, so it’s vital you know that it’s under the recommended level. Some laminates actually have labels stating it’s hazardous.

Who would knowingly place such materials in their house?

No one, right? But the problem is that not many of us know to ask the right questions when considering these decisions. Now that you’re informed, however, you know how to do your homework to ensure your home’s—and family’s—safety. Laminate flooring can be safe … as long as you choose wisely.

Remember that when doing any type of remodeling, you should always consider the effects on you and your children. Dust and debris can cause respiratory issues, so always allow good ventilation and keep the kids out for a day until air is clean and clear again when possible.