The Best and Worst Flooring Options for Allergies

Ebonee Williams
Written by Ebonee Williams
Updated September 13, 2021
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Choosing the right flooring option can help prevent indoor allergy symptoms

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Installing the right floors for your home is essential, especially if you have allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 50 million Americans suffer from allergy symptoms each year. Most people assume allergy symptoms mainly crop up outside; however, you can also experience allergies in your home, and one of the biggest triggers is your flooring. 

Some flooring options, like carpets, can be harder to keep clean, therefore making it easy for dust to hide within their fibers. Harder surfaces, like wood or tile, are the best when it comes to adding new flooring for your home because they are easy to keep clean.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to know to choose the best flooring option for allergies.

Thick Carpet Can Harbor Dust

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Heavy, high-pile shag carpets aren’t the best flooring options for people looking for relief from dust and other airborne allergens. This particular type of carpet holds onto pesky particles and other irritants. Despite vacuuming thoroughly, even the most capable machines have a hard time with thicker carpets, making it harder to keep them clean.

If carpet is your only option, go for a low-pile with a tight nap. Berbers and cut-loop patterns can be a nice place to start shopping. Wool carpets are another option to consider. While wool costs more and ranges between $5 and $26 per square foot, this material is natural, biodegradable, and if you take care of it properly, it will last longer.

Avoid Floors High in VOCs

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Floorings that are high in VOCs—aka volatile organic compounds—can be harmful to everyone, but they are especially hard on those who already have sensitive allergies. The adhesives used in some types of engineered hardwood, laminate and vinyl floorings can carry high amounts of VOCs. Carpets treated for waterproofing and stains can also contain harmful substances. 

Be sure to always check labels and ask about the installation adhesives for glue-down items and treatments. Some of these products release a chemical smell.

Hardwood Flooring Is a Good Bet for Allergy Sufferers

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Hard-surface flooring can be a great choice for those with allergies. Many types are easy to keep dusted and won’t absorb airborne particles. It’s much easier to remove dirt and dust from hard-surface flooring no matter what cleaning device you use. As discussed above, you want to look for nail-in or staple-down products when possible and keep them organic. Solid three-quarters-of-an-inch hardwood is an option that will add value to your home, require simple maintenance, and allow you to breathe easily. 

If you are having the floor site-finished rather than factory-finished, you should ask about how the local hardwood flooring contractor plans to control the sanding dust and about the types of finishes they will apply, as these can also trigger allergy symptoms. These days, there are some waterborne finishes that will keep the VOCs low and the smell out, too.

Consider Vinyl and Linoleum if You Have Allergies

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Vinyl and linoleum are better options for allergies than carpeted flooring because they are easier to clean, therefore making it harder for allergens to hide on their surfaces. While both options can be better for your allergies, make sure to look out for the VOC levels because sometimes the adhesives used to install these options contain chemicals that may trigger allergies. 

Tile and Stone Can Also Be Good Choice For Allergy Sufferers

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Most tile and stone with smooth finishes are great when it comes to hypoallergenic flooring options. However, more natural stones and tiles with jagged edges can trap allergens like dirt, dust, and mold. Try looking for a polished surface like marble, but be aware that they are slippery. Like other flooring options mentioned, it’s important to watch the VOC levels when it comes to adhesives and grout options when installing tile and stone. 

More Tips for Choosing an Allergy-Friendly Flooring Option

So what’s the best way to know if you are picking out products that will work with, not against, your health? Make sure your contractor has experience installing floors with allergy symptoms in mind—and if they don't have an answer for you right away, they should at least know who to ask.

Many flooring manufacturers have allergy facts at the ready, and you can find a lot of information on the labels. For instance, if you do decide to go with a synthetic carpet, make sure to look for the options that have Green Label Plus- or Greenguard-certified carpet and padding because they have fewer allergy triggers. Overall, don’t be afraid to ask for documentation of any health claims a sales rep is making.

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