Often, manufacturers and sellers confuse and trick buyers into buying their flooring merchandise, believing that these products are eco-friendly as they claim to be. To avoid regrets, customers must run a background check of the product first before diving into the wrong decision of buying the so-called “green” flooring.
Here are five tips that can help make the best decision in buying eco-friendly floors:
- Check formaldehyde content.
Whenever you’re planning to buy bamboo flooring or any other flooring produced from natural vegetation, it is imperative to ask the supplier of the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) content of the product. A typical example of VOC is formaldehyde. Most plants naturally contain formaldehyde. The question is in the type and amount of formaldehyde that occurs in the products. Phenol formaldehyde, which is more expensive but considered non-toxic, is used in some floorings. Urea formaldehyde, on the other hand, is hazardous to human health and is believed to be carcinogenic. Formaldehyde is measured in parts per million since they are in a form of a colorless gas. An acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) for floorings and other products, to be considered environmentally safe, should be below 0.10 ppm according to the emission standards of World Health Organization.
If a supplier claims that their product contains zero formaldehyde, be skeptic about it and ask for proof, such as third party certifications. As stated above, almost all plants contain naturally occurring formaldehyde. So, it is best to check if the material has no urea formaldehyde added instead of having zero formaldehyde. But if you want to be on the safe side, Ecotimber and Teragren offer bamboo products that have minimal or no formaldehyde emission.
- Look for a credible certification.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the only organization that is internationally recognized by environmental groups. The FSC certifies that a flooring product is harvested sustainably by monitoring the manufacturers’ compliance with their standards in preserving forests, ensuring that the trees are collected accordingly to their time of maturity and that the workers receive a fair wage.
However, many companies abuse the FSC logos and fool buyers into thinking that their products are credibly certified. Check the actual box and the line item of the receipt for the trademark logo of FSC, and then you’ll know you’ve got the right one. Also, the receipt should have the Chain of Custody Number (COC#) of the manufacturer or seller.
- Consider all costs involved.
There is a broad variation of ‘eco-friendly’ flooring, and each has a different set of specifications. A floor may just cost you for about $2 per square foot, but the delivery, the installation costs including all the materials needed for the installment, the finishing costs and the cost of floor protectors are completely different stories. In many cases, your subfloor may need modifications. Moisture problems and homes with radiant heat also require additional costs for a particular flooring to be installed.
- Compare the products.
Not all floorings are equally created. Bamboo, for example, is manufactured in a variety of ways. Therefore, its quality and price also exist in vast differences. In bamboo floorings, the criteria for evaluation and comparison may include: the harvesting procedure, hardness rating, finish, overall VOC and formaldehyde content, warranties and certifications, and the prices.
- Read and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
When purchasing, it is a wise practice to go through the manufacturer’s instructions. Floorings usually require specific conditions such as moisture free and level subfloors which may cost you further fees. Some flooring may not be suitable for use in your home, and extra work may be needed for the floors to fit in. Also, reading the instructions tells you the recommended materials for the finishing and maintenance of the flooring. Not doing so will result in flooring failure.