I recall that 20 years ago every new home had to have wall to wall carpeting.

Today that seems to have changed and now many builders brag about the absence of carpeting and the presence of hardwoods, marble, and travertine tiles. Environmentally speaking, that is music to my ears.

Carpeting can pose several indoor air quality issues and for this reason I tend to urge people to avoid it.

My last house had no carpeting because I had it all removed. I now live elsewhere and soon this home will be carpet free as well. If you are allergic to dust (as I am) or if you are prone to become ill after chemical exposure (as I sometimes do), carpet removal or avoidance might make sense for you as well.

First, carpeting tends to be very dirty. If you don't believe me, rent a carpet cleaning machine and look at the waste water.

It will be black as coal. That dirt was in your house -- and you were touching it, breathing it and becoming dirty as a result of living with it.

Everything that you and other family members (including pets) come into contact with ends up in your carpeting.

So do particulates brought in with air pollution, as well as outdoor pollens. In short, your carpeting is a microcosm of your outdoor environment.

If you have dust allergies or asthma, this might be reason alone for eliminating carpets. If you are going to keep them, make sure to vacuum them often, using a vacuum that actually works rather than redistributing dirt all over your house.

Second, carpet adhesives necessary to install carpet may be another reason that some people reject carpeting.

It appears that some people become ill when exposed to these adhesives. If you are one of them, you may be better off avoiding a room with newly installed carpeting until it is free of fumes from the adhesives.

The final problem with carpeting concerns cleaning it. Some people reportedly become ill when exposed to the chemicals used for cleaning carpets.

There have been numerous published scientific reports that have addressed this issue. If you are one of these sensitive persons, some kind of avoidance mechanism or other protocol to reduce the harmful effects may be in order.

In my opinion, wood floors are easier. The same applies to floor tiles and other installed products available at home improvement retailers. But watch to ensure that these products do not contain potentially harmful adhesives or other harmful chemicals. In the case of finished flooring, I suggest using an environmentally friendly finish.

The final analysis is this: If you are not bothered by these kinds of irritants, and if you enjoy carpeting, then carpeting might be best for you. But if you become ill after carpet exposure, adhesive exposure or exposure to carpet cleaning chemicals, then avoidance may be a good strategy for you.

In that case, perhaps consider wood flooring or a similar substitute. Read labels, ask questions, and purchase products with proven track records.

Log in to comment

Chuck's Avatar
Chuck replied the topic: #11275
Carpets need to be vacuumed often because they harbor a lot of allergens like dust, pet hair, pollen, dirt, etc. Carpeting makes it nice to walk around the house but they are a lot of maintenance compared to wood or natural flooring due to the need to vacuum carpets all the time.