Most people spend about 90% of their time at home in contact with their flooring. And why not?
If you want to grab a bag of chips in the pantry, you will need to walk to the kitchen to get it, right?
Almost all of our movements at home requires us to use the floor. So, it is not only essential to consider how it looks like, but you should also think about its durability, sustainability, and guaranteed safety.
A lot of us will settle on cheap designs, focusing the home improvement budget on something more decorative.
Some materials used for the flooring are believed to contain or release chemicals that are detrimental to humans. Plywood laminate floors can emit excessive amounts of volatile organic compound or VOCs from the resins that were utilized to put them all together. Some of these emitted chemicals, like formaldehyde, can evaporate readily into the air. These make them easy to get inhaled by both children and adults alike. One other material that you should try avoiding is PVC tiling or vinyl tiling. Like plywood laminate floors, it emits VOCs and phthalates.
Does this mean wood flooring is off-limits?
If you have a tiny human at home, you should consider your choices of flooring inside the house. Aside from being concerned about how the feel of the flooring can harm your child’s feet, you should also be aware of its possible systemic effects.
Types of Wood Floorings and Their Potential Hazards
- Solid Hardwoord
Solid hardwood floors look simple, but they have a lot of advantages. For one thing, solid wood is highly durable and flexible use. It can be placed anywhere at your home, be it the bedroom, kitchen, or living room. It is also known for its longevity. It can last a whole lifetime if you do the proper maintenance necessary. Just by sanding it, you can get rid of the damages that were caused by a direct contact like moving around furniture or your children’s toys.
This flooring is possibly the least non-toxic option in the market. Not only because of the materials used in its creation does are natural but also it not require glue upon installation. To seal this type of flooring in place, all you need to do is use nails.
Types of Hardwood Floors
Hardwood floors come in different varieties. It can encounter damages and dents just as other types of floorings. Brazilian Cherry and Santos Mahogany are the strongest and most durable types of hardwoods out there. Hickory and Maple are some of the harder varieties that can’t get scratched easily. Oak is quite a popular choice. They offer a mid-range level for hardness, so those moms that are concerned about how the flooring’s hardness can affect their baby’s feet find oak favorable. Its surface can withstand wear and tear and it is suitable for your baby’s first steps. Cherry or Walnut are some of the weakest varieties. Knowing the hardness level of the wood can help you be better informed with your investment.
The Limitations of Hardwood Floors
Unfortunately, solid wood flooring cannot be installed in areas rich in moisture, such as the bathroom. Also, living in flats restrict the use of nails upon installation. Lastly, hardwood floors are very expensive. If you have the budget for it, then there is nothing to worry about.
2. Engineered Hardwood
This type of flooring is made of several layers of materials. The core consists of plywood and it has a thin layer of natural wood on top. This means only the top part is real wood. That being said, engineered hardwood is not as solid and durable as solid hardwood. Apart from that, it can release toxic ingredients. Engineered hardwood imparts a high level of formaldehyde in the air inside your home. High levels of formaldehyde can cause irritation, which can be manifested as wheezing, fatigue, headache, and nausea. If your kid is asthmatic, this can be a trigger. Also, being a known carcinogen, it can cause harm to both kids and adults.
The plywood in engineered hardwood is simply wooden boards glued together. The glue used to adhere the engineered wood and other composite wood parts determines the emission level of formaldehyde differs. Urea-formaldehyde and phenol-formaldehyde are the top two widely used adhesives.
Now, this does not mean you can’t use engineered hardwood as your flooring. You still can. All you need to do is find out what certifications and requirements can ensure that your engineered hardwood is safe for your little one.
How to Guarantee that Your Engineered Hardwood Floor is Safe for Use?
There are engineered hardwood floors that use CARB 2 Certified composite wood core. This feature limits the level of formaldehyde released from the composite wood products to only 0.05 PPM. CARB certifies manufacturers without any additional formaldehyde or low-emitting formaldehyde resins known as no-added formaldehyde (NAF) and ultra-low emitting formaldehyde resins (ULEF),
The safest engineered hardwood floors also has TSCA Title VI. The Environmental Protection Agency or EPA recommends that all composite wood products should never go beyond the 0.05 ppm limit given to all 50 states in the United States. You will know that the product has met this qualification if there is a TSCA compliant label attached to it.
Greenguard ensures that materials and end products are designed accordingly for indoor use. It should meet the limits of chemical emission and does not compromise the quality of air inside your house. Being Greenguard certified means that the product has passed the test against 360 VOCs and the limit set on the total of all chemical emissions combined. Most products with Greenguard certification are intended for highly sensitive people. It guarantees that your baby is protected from any harm.
- Reclaimed Wood
The wood gathered from factories, warehouses, pallets, or barns is called a reclaimed wood. Its charm is its sense of history that gives your home a new and unique character. What makes this so appealing to nature-friendly people is that it is sustainable? There is no need to cut and process new trees which is an expensive and energy-consuming process.
There is no need to be concerned about the quality of reclaimed wood because these are very strong and durable. They comes from old-growth wood which are trees that grew with limited light. It is made of heartwood and tight growth rings, making it strong and resistant to rotting.
Reclaimed wood can also have Leadership and Energy and Environmental Design certification because it is recycled content.
The Downside of Reclaimed Wood
Unfortunately, reclaimed wood can contain chemicals, molds, and insects. For instance, grocery pallets might have bacteria from spoiled foods. Animal feces can be left from barn wood. Old wood from 1978 or before that can contain lead paint. Some wood can have mildew and mold. Reclaimed wood wcan also possess volatile organic compounds, insecticides, preservatives, and adhesives that can be toxic to your child. To avoid purchasing reclaimed wood that is not of good quality, check what the source is and have it tested. If it is not something you are not willing to do, just look for a reclaimed wood with CA Section 01350 and a Greenguard Gold certificate.
Now, enough with the technical information. Your existing floors will do so long as you have baby-proofed your floors. Don’t get too anxious, but don’t be too laid-back either.
Tips on How to Baby-Proof Your Wood Flooring
Less is more when ensuring your child’s safety at home all the time. Think of the things that you do not need inside your house. For instance, why not get rid of that side table beside your couch? Maybe it is better to dispose of excess furniture that serves no purpose.
Keep in mind that your little babe needs to have enough space to crawl around. Then, once he or she grows into a toddler, curiosity and exploration are most likely to take over. It is best to stay proactive when preparing your home.
Below are some things you can do to avoid your toddler from experiencing any mishaps on your wood flooring.
- Put rugs on wood flooring
Covering your floors with rug can make it softer and more comfortable once your baby’s feet come in contact with it. You can prevent him or her from having bruises which has a high probability of happening with hardwood floors. Apart from that, it will help your toddler avoid any potential health risks that arise from direct contact with your flooring. A lot of big area rugs can provide protection to your baby. Put them in areas where your baby usually is, like the bedrooms and playroom.
- Install cork flooring
Cork flooring is a good option for your child’s bedroom. It is warm, anti-allergenic, eco-friendly, anti-microbial, and gentle to the touch. If your baby falls when trying to stand up, cork can provide enough support and cushion.
- Check your carpeting options
Carpets are perhaps the most popular flooring choices for kids. It is soft and snug like cork flooring. You will not worry about your baby getting scratched or bruised. However, carpets are high-maintenance. It can collect dust and allergens like dust mites, mildew, and mold if you do not apply the necessary measures. Some carpets might also contain chemicals that can trigger sickness and allergies. Try installing the carpet ahead of time. So, by the time your kid settles into his or her room, the carpet would have aired out.
Yes, baby-proofing your home requires a lot of hard work. More often than not, moms and dads fail to recognize the impact of flooring.
- Purchase playmats on designated areas in your house
Playmats are perfect for kids who are just beginning to learn how to walk. It is padded and comfortable. It can prevent injuries and extra softness for babies while they are lying down, crawling or even sitting. Since babies love putting things in their mouth, get a playmat that does not contain any chemicals or toxic substances. To avoid your kid from falling down all the time, a non-skid feature is a plus. Playmats are a great substitute for area rugs because they can provide more protection and cushion. Most parents are hesitant to purchase playmats because of their outrageous designs and loud colors, opt for neutral styles that go well with your flooring.
Additional Tips When Your Baby Starts Crawling and Walking
Read on below bonus tips to make your house safe once your little one starts moving on his or her own
- The window and electrical cords that you normally ignore should be put away. Take special note of the electrical outlets. Buy plug-ins or covers for them. Ensure that the cabinets are locked, especially if they contain poisonous substances, sharp objects, medicines, and breakables.
- Clear the tiny items that are on your floor. Babies are naturally curious. They will try to fit everything they touch.
- Install safety gates in every area you deem dangerous, such as the bathroom. If not, be conscious about keeping every room to your home closed.
- Install gates at the top and bottom area of your stairs. By doing this, you are preventing your child from getting up or down those stairs without your supervision. Although, you can install it a few steps from the landing area so you can give your kid enough time to practice.
Hardwood floors are friendlier to the environment than laminated wood floors, which are held together by glue that contains toxic substances. Always choose hardwood floors that are sourced naturally.
Bamboo and oak wood floors can fend off the effects of constant foot traffic and prevent scratches just as well as laminates and vinyls do. Additionally, cork, bamboo, and other eco-friendly options are a lot stronger than those synthetic options.
If you do not want to alter your flooring, you can try purchasing area rugs or playmats. For your kid’s room, it is best to select cork floorings or install carpeting.