Is Carpet Still an Option?

April 3rd 2007
Is Carpet Still an Option?

Over the years more and more homeowners are replacing wall to wall carpeting with hard floor surfaces such as wood, ceramic or slate. One of the reasons behind the move towards hard surface flooring is the concern that carpet impacts indoor air qulaity by collecting dust in addition to producing VOC off gassing. But what if you are not ready to let go of the comfort and warmth of carpet? Is carpet still an option for our homes?

We took this question out to the industry to find out what impact carpet may have on the air in our homes. Exclusive Floors in Vancouver offers a variety of choices of both hard surface flooring and carpeting to consumers. They say the demand for carpet is there since it provides comfort and warmth as well as sound absorbing qualities that hard surface flooring simply cannot match. Carpeting has also come a long way in respect to stain resistance and is now easier to clean and maintain than ever before.

Does Carpet Impact Indoor Air Quality?

According to the German Allergy and Asthma Society and the European Community Respiratory Health Service it does. The European study was done in 18 countries. (Alot of European as well as Australia, India, New Zealand, and the US.) The results were that homes fitted with wall-to-wall carpets had the fewer asthma symptoms and less bronchial responsiveness. These results were consistent in all countries. What this is based on is the carpet acts as a passive filter by holding the allergens and dust particles on the floor. Then when you vacuum they are removed. On hard surface floors the dust and allergens are not held down but are able to move into the indoor air and into your lungs. In Switzerland they have the lowest percentage of households with wall-to-wall carpet but have the highest asthma symptoms and bronchial responsiveness in Europe.

A lot of new carpets are coming with "Everfresh" which inhibits the growth of mold and mildew. However, you still need to properly maintained your carpets by having them professionally steam cleaned every 18 months and vacuum your carpets once a week or when needed. Also, an improperly maintained carpet is a breeding ground for dust mites and worst things.

So carpet sounds great, why get wood? One of the negatives of carpet and pad is it off gases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that some people are very sensitive to. There are a few things that you can do to limit or eliminate VOC. The more affordable way is to buy a high quality underlayment that has very low VOC off gassing or none. (Nylon carpet by it self has very low VOC off gassing, most of the VOC come from the chip foam underlay.) Or you can buy a wool carpet with a high quality pad. This option will have zero to next to no VOC off gassing.