Which Is Better For Allergies - Carpeting Or Hardwood Floors?

low VOC or VOC free finishesRecent studies have indicated that 51% of the people still opt for carpet in many rooms of the home, but as with any other area of decor, flooring trends come and go. Hardwood floors are “in” these days with many homeowners. Meanwhile, carpeting still gets a bad rap from those who feel it traps dust, mold and mildew, while worsening interior air quality and causing an increase in asthma and allergies.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), an industry trade association, works hard to help people separate truth from fiction. No matter what your preference, there are some good reasons to think carefully about the floor coverings you choose

Why Many Homeowners Dislike Carpeting

Carpet comes under attack because of 1) the chemicals used to make it and 2) because it traps dirt and allergens. However, what may have been true in years past is no longer true in modern carpeting.

The Chemical Issue

Carpeting used to have latex backing, use formaldehyde in production, and emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Current carpet uses no formaldehyde and only releases VOCs into the air for a brief time. Since these chemicals dissipate within 24 hours or less, emissions from new carpet is the lowest of any household furnishings. The backing used in new carpets is synthetic latex, which has not been shown to provoke the allergies found in natural latex. Studies have confirmed that carpet presents no health risk because of the chemicals it contains.

Hardwood floors, on the other hand, often used toxic chemicals in the finishing process. Traditional stains and sealers had a high concentration of VOCs. Manufacturers even claimed it was impossible to make high-quality finishes that did not emit chemicals, even for a time. Now, beautiful, effective polyurethanes, paints, shellac, varnishes, color lacquer, and waxes are available with low emissions level. Many are water-based or made with plant extracts and minerals that are naturally low VOC or VOC free finishes and less likely to trigger allergies.

The Allergy Issue

Carpet can harbor dirt and allergens, but there are no reports that link carpeting with asthma or an increase in allergies. Rather than trapping particulates, which is seen as a bad thing, carpeting prevents such things from becoming airborne. Frequent, thorough vacuuming sucks allergens out of carpeting. Like mattresses and upholstered furniture, carpeting needs vacuuming once a week with a vacuum with a HEPA filter to prevent allergens from floating back into the air.

Advocates of hardwood and other hard flooring surfaces maintain that these floor coverings are easier to clean than carpeting. Carpeting fans counter that the amount of sweeping, mopping, stripping, waxing, and buffing required for hard surface floors is more expensive and labor intensive than vacuuming carpet once or twice a week. If you do not frequently attend to hardwood floors, they can develop a serious population of dust bunnies that can easily become airborne and trigger allergies.

The Real Issues In The Hardwood vs. Carpeting Debate

With allergy issues in carpeting a thing of the past, what draws people to carpeting versus hardwood comes down to personal preference and appearance. You must maintain whatever you have. Poor quality carpet which has been poorly cared for with infrequent vacuuming and cleaning can look old and matted within a few years. HardwoodOn the other hand, hardwood can acquire scratches from pets, furniture, and general use that can only be fixed by sanding and refinishing the floor.

Ironically, many people who love hardwood accent it with area rugs, even room size ones, to add warmth, color, and style. While this makes for a great look, it compels you to be a good housekeeper who frequently sweeps and vacuums all surfaces.

Bottom line: even with allergies, you can go with the floor covering you love so long as you keep it clean and well maintained.

Filters Keep Your House Cleaner

High quality air filters and furnace filters can keep your home cleaner, whether you prefer carpeting, hardwood, or a mix of both. Choose a furnace filter, air filter, or whole house filter from Air Filter Buy, which stocks a variety of products to meet your needs and budget. Check out our website or call us at (855) FILTBUY to order air filters.