The following tips and healthy alternatives apply to floors and stairs.
Bamboo and cork: These materials are ecological, sustainable, healthy and renewable. However, the long distances they have to travel (Europe, Asia) make them polluting materials (if you live in Canada). It is to be noted that in the process of preparing bamboo for flooring, glues and urea formaldehyde can be used. This can affect indoor air quality and pose a health risk for people who suffer from environmental sensitivities.
Concrete: It is a material that helps retain heat, and chemicals are added in the manufacturing process. The manufacture of concrete is not environmentally friendly.
Hemp: Without adding other components, hemp is a healthy product, which can be recycled continuously. It has a low carbon footprint because it is easily grown in North America and Europe. In addition, it is a bio-sourced raw material that grows rapidly (eco home).
Linoleum and marmolium: Linoleum and marmolium linings are made from jute cloth that have been waterproofed with linseed oil and wood powder. It is a natural, anti-allergenic and antibacterial solution (eco home).
Recycled flooring: It is an ecological, sustainable and healthy solution. However, their price is higher.
Also think about recycled tiles (40% minimum). Eco home
Slate and stone: It is a sustainable, local and healthy solution.
Solid wood: It contains little or no VOCs and is an environmentally sustainable choice. Opt for FSC certified wood and choose a hardwood such as oak, cherry, maple, etc.
Tile and Ceramic: By using low or zero VOC adhesives, tile is a durable and healthy solution for your home. However, they often come from Italy or China and therefore have a high carbon footprint.
Some FSC engineered flooring and scrap wood may contain backings composed of glues containing carcinogens such as formaldehyde.
Carpets (fixed to the floor) are often made from petroleum products or non-biodegradable synthetic fibres and contain chemicals such as glues, dyes, flame retardants, etc.
Laminate floors (laminate, floating) are composed of wood fibres that are not very durable and are held together by glue, which may contain carcinogenic formaldehyde.
Also avoid toxic vinyl (PVC), which is present in many floor coverings.
Finally, avoid the use of tropical wood. Although it is not toxic as such, its use contributes to deforestation. It is preferable to use recycled, recovered wood that you can stain with non-toxic products.
To maintain your floors, use VOC-free oils. Eco home recommends the non-toxic Monocoat oil.
Ingredients to avoid in products you choose
- Anti-stain agents: toxic
- Glues: may contain solvents that are toxic to humans (1,1,1-trichloroethane, benzene, petroleum distillates, toluene, xylene, etc.)
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) such as formaldehyde
- Formaldehyde: carcinogen, irritating to eyes and respiratory tract, respiratory sensitizer
- Fire retardant products: toxic to humans, release VOCs, possible toxic effects on the nervous and hormonal systems
- Petroleum products: possible carcinogens depending on the degree of purification (possible contamination by butadiene), allergens
- Dyes: possible carcinogens, skin sensitizers, photosensitizers and mutagens