Allergies affect many of us, and while the best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the substance you’re allergic to, sometimes that’s simply not enough! The flooring you install at home actually has a huge impact too. Many allergy sufferers don’t realize that there are measures we can take in our homes to combat these reactions and help to keep them to a minimum.
In the first instance, all fabrics that are brought into the home should be allergy-proof where possible. Regular cleaning of pillows, soft toys, curtains and upholstered furniture is also imperative. With more allergy-friendly options available, it’s important to consider these when purchasing new soft furnishings.
We have been working with a few clients recently seeking what the best options are for allergy sufferers when it comes to flooring. So what sort of flooring options are available for allergy sufferers? Well this week, we are going to take you through the 5 main options for allergy sufferers and explain the unique differences, similarities, longevity and any maintenance required so you can make an informed decision on what is best for you.
Let’s take a look at the flooring options available!
Cork flooring is perhaps the most surprising option available because cork as a material isn’t normally associated with flooring. However, cork is actually an extremely well rounded material that is healthy, especially for allergy sufferers.
Cork is very durable. It resists cracking and can withstand liquid spillages quite well. It is also particularly safe because it will only melt or ignite under extremely high temperatures, and generates far less smoke or toxic material than other options like laminate or vinyl.
This option is renewable as the production process generates next to no waste, and anything leftover can easily be made into other things. So for those who are conscious of reducing their carbon footprint, this is a fantastic option that should be considered.
Conversely, cork flooring contains more insulation which can contribute to a warmer home. This may not be suitable for much warmer states, but a key benefit to those colder areas. For that reason, cork should be considered carefully in conjunction with the local climate. The insulating properties also help with sound absorption too. The noise level in a room with cork flooring will be lower than a room with hardwood flooring or tile.
A great feature of cork flooring is that despite any furniture placed on top, cork has the ability to retain its form indentations from furniture should be minimal. The color and pattern of the material is able to penetrate wear very well so it will last longer than other materials like carpet.
Cork flooring is relatively easy to keep clean. It is recommended to regularly sweep or vacuum the floor. You can mop the cork but it is important to avoid using any ammonia-based or harsh abrasive chemicals when cleaning. Never fully immerse the floor with water as this can cause water damage.
In terms of the options available for flooring, cork is available as tiles or planks, in a variety of different styles, colors and sizes. Planks create a seamless floor, while tiles provide a unique look of different patterns.
It is worth mentioning that as cork flooring has only recently become popular, cork is a very unexpected material for flooring. As such it may take some time to get used to how it looks within your home because natural cork tends to be more orange in color. You can paint most cork flooring types, but always check with the specification and remember that this would be an extra over-and-above cost. Cork is also available prestained which is our recommended option to clients.
When well maintained, cork flooring can last a lifetime.
$$ Cork flooring is extremely affordable, as the installation costs are much lower than other options. It is very durable, environmentally friendly and easy to keep clean.
Hardwood flooring is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful options because its elegant and high-end aesthetic will never go out of style. The vast choice of finishes, types, colors and sizes make it a very sought after flooring type in general. Another factor that makes it popular is how easy it is to clean, and keep clean too!
Hardwood floors don’t accumulate a lot of dirt or dust like carpet options which get sucked into the fibers, so this is a good option for those with allergies. As there are no grout lines, fibers or embossing, dust, pollen, animal dander and allergens don’t get trapped anywhere, unlike carpet. They contribute to healthier air quality generally too, so are therefore one of the best options for allergy sufferers.
Hardwood flooring is however, an expensive investment. It does depend on the type of wood used, the finish and installation costs, but it can prove to be more costly than other options available. It is always recommended to hire a professional to install hardwood flooring to avoid any mistakes or errors which could ruin the whole look. On the flip side, hardwood flooring increases the value of your property and is therefore a good long term investment if you consider selling in the future.
In addition to the initial upfront costs, should the floor be scuffed or scratched it can be quite timely – and potentially expensive – in maintenance. This will need to be refinished, and the process of which creates a lot of dust from sanding and potential fumes from a polyurethane coating (if applicable). Depending on how the hardwood is finished with a stain, will depend on how well it can withstand these scuffs and scratches. It is also recommended to have floors repolished every 3-4years. Good quality hardwood floors are in general quite hard wearing.
Something else to bare in mind is that you should avoid excessive contact with water. While generally speaking, hardwood floors won’t stain heavily, excessive spilling will cause staining. So always make sure to mop up any excessive spills as soon as possible. Because of this, it may not be a viable option for kitchens or bathrooms that are prone to high exposure with moisture.
If noise is an issue throughout your home, or you’re within close proximity to neighbors, this could be another viable disadvantage. Placing a rug within a room, with curtains and other soft finishes can help to muffle the sound though. Nonetheless, this is important to consider when thinking about installing hardwood flooring.
Similarly to cork flooring, hardwood floors come from an organic and natural origin, making it a healthy and environmentally friendly option if sourced locally.
If you do consider hardwood flooring for your home and your budget can stretch, it is well worth investing in prefinished engineered hardwood flooring. This means that it arrives already sanded and finished, making the install time quicker and with less disruption. This will avoid any strong odors or dust from sanding during the installation process. Prefinished flooring is also generally more durable than finish applied after installation too.
$$$ Hardwood flooring is expensive in initial costs, but provides an extremely good return-on-investment and healthier air quality.
Stainmaster LiveWell Range
During our research into suitable flooring options for allergy sufferers, we came across an interesting carpet range from Stainmaster called LiveWell. It’s actually the first carpet and cushion system designed to reduce dust and allergen buildup without any added cleaning. So if you’re keen to keep carpet in your home, perhaps updating bedrooms then this could be the better option.
The LiveWell range is made with kid and pet-safe “AllerShield technology” which reduces the bonding of allergy-aggravating particles to carpet fibers. Therefore more of these particles end up in the vacuum than in the carpet itself. Due to this technology, every pass of your vacuum can be 90% more effective in reducing allergens.
Despite this added allergy-preventing technology, the LiveWell range is still a carpet and therefore it is important to remember that allergen particles will still remain within the carpet itself.
Stainmaster is known for its high quality and durable ranges, and for providing stain resistant carpet in general. The LiveWell range is no different, it is stain and soil resistant with mold and mildew protection.
In terms of cost for this range, it can vary greatly between suppliers so it’s extremely important to do research and enquire with a number of local suppliers and installers.
$ The LiveWell range is relative to other carpets on the market, and is more economical than hardwood floors, luxury vinyl planks, and cork flooring.
Woven Vinyl Flooring
Woven vinyl flooring is typically found in more commercial environments because of its extremely durable qualities. It is very resistant because of its tight weave which allows the quality to last a very long time.
Vinyl flooring in general is best known for being waterproof, making it ideal for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms. They are also resistant to stains and dirt making cleaning easier.
In comparison to hardwood flooring, woven vinyl floors are equally as easy to clean. You can brush off any dirt, vacuum and finish off with a solution of water and mild household cleaner or detergent. This makes woven vinyl flooring a great option for allergy sufferers.
Conversely to hardwood floors, vinyl flooring cannot be repaired and it has a somewhat shorter lifespan than that of real wood floors. Vinyl also does not provide any increase in property value (but rest assured they won’t decrease the value either), unlike hardwood floors. Should you want to replace your floors entirely in the future, vinyl flooring is quite difficult to remove due to adhesive being used during installation.
If you are environmentally conscious it is worth mentioning that vinyl floors are not easily recycled.
As there are some downfalls to vinyl flooring, it is an inexpensive option that requires low maintenance, it’s easy to install and durable compared to prefinished hardwood flooring.
$ Vinyl flooring is inexpensive, highly durable and extremely easy to clean and maintain.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
Luxury vinyl planks have many similar properties to woven vinyl flooring, however these planks look extremely similar to real hardwood floors. Other luxury vinyl floors include tiles which look like natural stone tiles. If you’re looking for a premium finish and look to your spaces, yet still be suitable for allergy sufferers, then this option may be for you.
Luxury vinyl flooring is the best option if you are looking for something that has low maintenance, yet looks like real wooden floors. They are easy to clean and keep allergen particles at bay, by vacuuming and using a solution of water and mild household cleaner.
Similarly to woven vinyl floors, most luxury vinyl floors are waterproof but this is worth checking with each individual range when considering them.
$$$ Luxury vinyl plank flooring can be expensive. The cost is more than standard woven vinyl floors and cork flooring.
For allergy sufferers especially, we believe the strongest contenders are vinyl flooring or hardwood floors. These are extremely easy to keep clean – and for longer – than carpet, as there will always be an element of particles sticking to the fibres. Cork flooring is another strong contender, however visually it can look on the more orange side and we always recommend splurging to get the prestained cork when proceeding down this path.
While hardwood flooring in particular is an expensive investment, it is one worth making if you can because of the beautifully finished result. If budget is at the top of your priority list then vinyl flooring could be a good substitute because there are many good quality options available that look very close to hardwood floors.
If you’re considering hardwood floors but the thought of the maintenance and nature of the product is a turn-off, then luxury vinyl plank flooring is the perfect alternative. You will still achieve a very similar quality result, just with vinyl instead of actual wood. If you can get past the feeling of natural hardwood floors then vinyl will be great for you.
With all of the options presented in this blog post, please seek professional advice from a designer, suppliers, and installers directly so you can make an informed decision based on specific product ranges and specifications and that is right for you and your home specifically.
We wish you luck in finding the perfect flooring for your home that is most suited to allergy sufferers! And hope you have found this to be informative and helpful in your decision-making process. If you have any questions or have made a material decision based on our information presented here, please drop us a comment below! As always, we’re here to help, don’t hesitate to reach out for a mini design consultation!