Can Hardwood Flooring Make You Healthier?
As one of the oldest and still most highly prized types of flooring in the nation, hardwood has nothing to prove when it comes to desirability. However, on the commonly held belief that hardwood is a healthier flooring than carpet—i.e. hardwood doesn’t provide a place for dust and mold to hide—the verdict isn’t exactly cut and dry.
Does Carpet Affect Allergies?
There are many people out there who believe that dust mites, pollen, and other allergens can easily become trapped in your carpet. Perhaps surprisingly, the carpet industry supports this belief. According to Carpet-health.org, studies comparing airborne particles levels in carpeted rooms to non-carpeted rooms showed carpeted surfaces trapped more particles so that walking [over the floor] disturbed fewer particles. Result: less dust in the breathing zone over carpeted floors. To put it more bluntly, the website tells us that clean, dry, well-maintained carpet actually improves indoor air quality.
On the Other Hand…
Producers of hard flooring are quick to point out that just because the allergens are trapped, they are still present. From their perspective, having dust you can see and remove on your flooring is a better situation than having trapped particles all over your house. They aren’t the only ones with this belief: According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America(AAFA), hardwood floors are an ideal type of floor for persons with allergies and asthma.
The Problem with Moisture Issues
One place where everyone can agree that carpet doesn’t belong is in moist areas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) firmly tells homeowners to “Remove and replace flooded carpets to reduce the likelihood of mold growth (a situation that can become decidedly serious).” The CDC also makes a point of telling homeowners, “Do not carpet bathrooms” for the same reason.
Note: Any moisture-rich area is generally considered a bad place to install carpet, but since moisture can have extremely detrimental effects on hardwood, too, the clear winners in basements, bathrooms, and laundry areas are other forms of hard flooring like tile, stone, and concrete.
Is One Flooring Healthier than the Other?
If you take care of your flooring and replace it when necessary, there’s nothing to strongly suggest that either hardwood or carpet is a significantly healthier option. However, homeowners who like the comfortable feel of carpet should be aware that proper cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep it as healthy and attractive as possible.
It should be noted that some have made a case for hardwood being healthier on a global scale. When sustainably grown and harvested, wood flooring is a very environmentally friendly product whose long life expectancy suggests that it won’t be taking up landfill space any time soon!