Vinyl Flooring:
Types and Cautions

Vinyl Flooring has become very popular because of its low cost, easy care, and the way it can mimic more expensive floor coverings.

But is it a safe and non toxic product?

vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl flooring

Vinyl actually became popular as a substitute for linoleum . Natural linoleum sales have steadily
increased over recent years, but vinyl remains a
popular choice.

The primary reason vinyl has come under fire by those concerned about indoor air quality (IAQ) is its
outgassing characteristics.

Vinyl is made from petrochemicals, particularly plasticizers. which give the floor its flexibility. A number of chemicals, or VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are out-gassed by
these floors.

Some VOCs can cause respiratory symptoms and difficulties, as well as eye irritation. Indeed, some of the side effects are similar to formaldehyde exposure. If the vinyl is placed using an adhesive, often that will contain formaldehyde as well as other chemicals.

So, what's the big deal about a few chemicals?
New Construction Materials are loaded with them!

Simply this: VOCs (chemical exposure) has been linked to asthma and allergies and some of those chemicals are carcinogenic (may cause cancer).

Children are the most vulnerable as they breathe more air for their size than do adults. Also, children live and play much closer to the ground (the floor).

There are several types of vinyl used for flooring. There are some differences, so we'll look at each individually.

Vinyl Sheet Flooring

Sheet vinyl floor is probably the biggest seller of them all. It is also the most flexible, which means the amount of VOCs or plasticizers, is higher in this product.

It is quite economical and comes in an enormous number of designs. Often, it will mimic the look of tile, marble, brick, wood or stone.

Vinyl Floor Tiles

Vinyl floor tiles are thicker, and thus less prone to the amount of outgassing that the lower end sheet vinyl gives off. Often mimicking a ceramic style of tile, vinyl flooring tiles are not too difficult to install, but need a bit more careful cutting than simply the sheet type.

Self Stick Vinyl Tiles

Self stick vinyl tiles have the adhesive already attached so they can be merely "stuck" onto the floor or sub floor wherever you like. The adhesive on these tiles doesn't tend to be as odorous as an adhesive placed on-site.

If you plan to use sheet vinyl or tiles, look for a low-tox adhesive.

Making Vinyl Less Toxic?

Some people have been able to tolerate vinyl by allowing it to outgas for several weeks or months in a garage or unused room in the house. This way, the strongest outgassing can take place in unoccupied areas.

Another idea is to consider purchasing vinyl in a remnant form - this works especially well for smaller rooms. Most likely, the remnant has been in the outlet store for some time, and may have a less strong odor by the time it is purchased.

Can vinyl be considered a green product?

Considering the fact that this flooring is seldom recycled (usually ends up in landfills) and has toxic components, it is not especially eco-friendly. You may be surprised to discover that some of the more natural flooring products are much more price-competitive than they used to be.

Also, keep in mind that tile, stone, linoleum and hardwood can be expected to have a much longer life than vinyl flooring.

Go from Vinyl Flooring to Linoleum

Flooring Guide

Hardwood Flooring

Bamboo Wood Flooring

Stone Floors

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