Looking to remodel or replace your old dingy carpets? Think about all-wood floors. Carpets and the pads beneath them are made with synthetic fibers derived from petroleum and are glued together with urea formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogenic substance and it leaks from your carpets and pads into the air for as long as you own your home.
Carpets also catch dust and allergens such as pet dander and pollen. Even vacuuming and steam cleaning doesn't remove all of this, and carpets usually gain weight over the years. Carpets also make good homes for fleas and dust mites, making it virtually impossible to remove them from the home without commercial spraying. Finally, there are all the chemical substances used to clean carpets. Very few natural solutions exist to clean these artificial fibers.
Wood flooring eliminates most of these problems. Stick with the hardwood floors, and if possible get bamboo or flooring made from salvaged wood to protect our forests. Wood flooring is easy to install and really not more expensive than premium carpeting. It doesn't collect dust and allergens so it is definitely recommended if you have either allergies or asthma. It also doesn't provide homes for fleas or dust mites. Wood is also easier to care for and doesn't stain as easily when properly sealed.
I would suggest staying away from laminate flooring though. This is usually cheaper and has the look of wood but is made of wood fiber (aka sawdust) glued together with formaldehyde-based glues and covered with a veneer of pressed paper to look like wood. It does come with a long-term warranty but isn't as durable as true wood flooring.
Of all the wood flooring choices available, bamboo is probably the most environmentally friendly. If you want to soften your wood floors, you can use organic wool or cotton area rugs that are available in a variety of colors and patterns to suit your desire. Area rugs are easier to clean and disinfect than wall-to-wall carpeting because you can take them outdoors to do so. Also you can use them to a really good effect in your home decorations.
Some alternatives to wood flooring include cork flooring and stone or ceramic tiles. Cork flooring is softer than hardwood and usually sold as tiles. It makes a good floor for places where people are standing all the time like the kitchen. It is a very resilient floor and adds warmth to any room. Stone and ceramic tiles come in many different configurations and colors. Usually they are thought of as cooler surfaces, but they also come in warm colors and styles.
If choosing a ceramic tile, make sure the glazes don't contain harmful substances like arsenic. While this is only a problem if the tile gets chipped, it is better to be safe than sorry. Sticking with as many natural substances as possible when remodeling or redecorating your home is better for the environment in the long run.
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