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Floor Coverings

DEFINITION
CONSIDERATIONS
COMMERCIAL STATUS
IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES
GUIDELINES

  1. Recycled Content Padding and Carpeting
  2. Water-based Adhesives
  3. Linoleum
  4. Recycled-content Tile

CSI Numbers:

09680 Carpeting
09681 Carpet Cushion
09690 Carpet Tile
09300 Tile
09760 Floor Treatment
09700 Special Flooring


DEFINITION:

The floor coverings addressed in this section pertain to non-wood flooring: carpeting and its padding, tile products, and linoleum (as opposed to vinyl). These are coverings that would be used in all the primary areas of a home. (Wood flooring is addressed separately.)

Recycled-content carpet padding comes in two primary types – from old padding and from reclaimed carpet fibers.

Recycled-content carpeting is made from recycled PET derived primarily from post-consumer plastic soft drink containers.

Natural linoleum is made from softwood powder, linseed oil, pine tree resins, cork, chalk, and jute backing.

Recycled-content tile that is currently available is made from waste glass such as lightbulbs and auto windshields. An additional recycled-content tile is made from a byproduct of feldspar mining.

Natural carpets are those made from grasses, cotton, and wool with minimal treatment.


CONSIDERATIONS:

Common floor coverings are most often cited as primary contributors to indoor air contamination. This is due to the VOC constituents (volatile organic compounds) present in the binders used in the fabrication of the materials such as carpet padding and carpeting and in the adhesives used to apply carpet padding and tile.

Since homes are now constructed tightly in order to conserve energy, chemicals outgassing from building materials are more potent and harmful. Formaldehyde outgassing is a primary threat from commonly-used floor coverings.

Airing a home before it is occupied will dilute the chemicals during their most potent initial stage. However, high levels of VOC’s will outgas for months and, in many cases, will continue to outgas for years. Reducing the application of VOC’s in the home can be achieved through alternatives – mainly associated with the use of carpeting.

This section identifies recycled-content materials which are durable, high quality, and attractive floor coverings. The use of these materials strengthens the viability of our recycling efforts and greatly benefits our resource and energy impacts.

Linoleum and natural carpets use renewable resources and offer durability without compromising aesthetics. The cork used in linoleum is harvested from the cork tree on an ongoing basis without harming the tree. Along with cotton and wool, carpet-type floor coverings are available from grasses and reeds.

Ceramic tile offers outstanding durability and maintainability. It also has high aesthetic value.

Commercial
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Carpet Pad Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Recycled Carpet Satisfactory Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Ceramic Tile Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Linoleum Satisfactory Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory
Recycled Tile Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory
Natural Carpets Satisfactory Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Satisfactory Satisfactory
Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory in most conditions
Satisfactory in Limited Conditions Satisfactory in Limited Conditions
Unsatisfactory or Difficult Unsatisfactory or Difficult


COMMERCIAL STATUS

TECHNOLOGY:

Adequately developed.

SUPPLIERS:

Available locally, except recycled-content tile.

COST:

Recycled-content padding and carpeting are priced competitively. Recycled-content tile is higher priced than average tile products. The least toxic adhesives used with ceramic and recycled tile are locally available at competitive costs. Linoleum will cost more than low cost vinyl flooring. Natural carpet materials are more costly than common carpet materials, but competitively priced with standard high quality carpeting.


IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

FINANCING:

Available.

PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE:

Healthy home issues are among the highest environmental appeals to homebuyers. Buyers may be wary of recycled-content floor coverings, but they will find that they are indistinguishable from non recycled-content products.

REGULATORY:

None.


GUIDELINES

1.0 Recycled content padding and carpeting.

Standard installation.

Types of recycled padding.Rubber-based recycled padding is quite common. It can outgas. Environmentally sensitive individuals should check a sample of the padding material for any adverse reactions.

Recycled padding from carpet fibers is also available and may be more suitable for environmentally sensitive persons.

2.0 Water-based adhesives.

A least toxic alternative. Now common in the flooring industry.

Standard application.

3.0 Linoleum.

Installed similarly to vinyl flooring.

If the backing material is jute, the cuts for seams need to be beveled away from the seam. The jute backing “relaxes” with use and will spread out.

Select installers that have received factory installation training.

4.0 Recycled-content tile.

Handled like ceramic tile.

Products listed in the Resources section are suitable for high traffic commercial applications.